The World Cup is over, and it has been a great tournament that will be remembered for a long time to come. These are the players who I think had the best tournament.
GK: Manuel Neuer, Germany
There were an amazing number of outstanding goalkeepers at this World Cup – Tim Howard, Keylor Navas, Guillermo Ochoa and David Ospina to name a few – but Neuer is my pick for the best keeper because he is so much more than just a brilliant keeper – he is almost another defender, with his seemingly mad dashes out of his area to sweep up through balls. Before the tournament, I believed that Thibaut Courtois was the world’s best keeper, but Neuer has convinced me otherwise with his superb performances.
RB: Serge Aurier, Ivory Coast
The Ivory Coast may have bowed out in the group stage yet again, but Aurier was a real stand out player for them at right back. He got 2 assists in their first game, and his crossing throughout was excellent. His great showings seem to have earned him a move to PSG for next season.
CB: Mats Hummels, Germany
Hummels was solid at the back throughout the tournament for Germany, and also contributed 2 goals against Portugal and France. Centre-back partner Boateng was also solid.
CB: Mario Yepes, Colombia
At the ripe old age of 38, Yepes was excellent at the back for the thoroughly impressive Colombian side that reached the quarter finals. He may not have the legend status of other veterans at this World Cup, but his performances were no worse for it.
LB: Daley Blind, Holland
He caught the eye in Holland’s first game against Spain with 2 assists, and went on to have a strong tournament in a variety of positions – left back, defensive midfield and centre back, also scoring against Brazil. Holland’s usually weak defence is starting to show signs of improvement.
CM: Toni Kroos, Germany
Arguably one of the best midfielders in the world at the moment, Kroos was crucial to Germany’s success, contributing 2 goals and 3 assists. Bayern have made a very big mistake in allowing him to leave for Real Madrid.
CM: Javier Mascherano, Argentina
Probably Argentina’s best player in their run to the final, Mascherano showed that despite being played at centre back for the last 2 seasons, he remains a world class defensive midfielder. His tackle against Arjen Robben in the semi final was one of the moments of the tournament.
RW: Arjen Robben, Holland
Robben can be a frustrating player, but he was at his brilliant best in this tournament. He tore Spain apart in their opening game, and was Holland’s stand out player as they laboured through the knockout games. He drew criticism for diving, but will he care? Unlikely.
AM: James Rodriguez, Colombia
He was hardly an unknown prior to the tournament, but in the last month James Rodriguez has announced himself as a star in the making with the world watching. 6 goals and 2 assists in 5 games is a phenomenal return, and scoring the best goal of the tournament doesn’t hurt either. The Golden Boot winner, and he should have won the Golden Ball as well.
LW: Neymar, Brazil
It was a tournament to forget for hosts Brazil, but the pre-tournament prediction that Neymar would be carrying them proved to be true. He scored 4 goals and assisted once, and his injury was not only a blow because he couldn’t play, it was psychologically devastating for the Brazilians. He is the only Brazilian player who can look back on the tournament with pride.
ST: Thomas Muller, Germany
10 World Cup goals at the age of 24, it is very likely that Muller could overtake team mate Klose as the all time top scorer. He won the Golden Boot in South Africa, and was only one short of doing so again this time round. He may not be the most technically gifted of Germany’s players, but his importance to them cannot be overstated.
Matt Besler, USA
Luiz Gustavo, Brazil
Juan Cuadrado, Colombia
Lionel Messi, Argentina
Philipp Lahm, Germany
Karim Benzema, France
Robin van Persie, Holland
Mathieu Valbuena, France
Alexis Sanchez, Chile
Blaise Matuidi, France
Tim Howard, USA
Keylor Navas, Costa Rica
Ivan Perisic, Croatia
Hector Herrera, Mexico
Jose Gimenez, Uruguay