Coral’s World Cup Best XI
The World Cup is over. After 64 games, and some sensational strikes, Germany were crowned as champions; as Bayern Munich superstar Mario Gotze netted in extra time to secure a 1-0 win.
Following the excitement of the last four weeks, Coral’s analysts have put together a team of the tournament, based on high frequency statistics, measured by sophisticated technology.
GOALKEEPER: MANUEL NEUER (GERMANY)
Arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, Germany’s Neuer also won the prestigious Golden Glove in Brazil having pulled off some top class saves. Playing mainly as a sweeper, he is also very adept with the ball at his feet and has enough speed to outpace attackers.
RIGHT BACK: PHILIP LAHM (GERMANY)
Versatile, intelligent and a great athlete, Die Mannschaft coach Joachim Low often switched him between two positions in Brazil. Adept as a holding midfielder, being able to read the pattern of play, intercept and tackle, his high energy approach and crossing ability was utilised at right back in the semi against Brazil and the final. His passing accuracy of 91 per cent was second only to teammate Toni Kroos. Costa Rica’s Cristian Gamboa just missed out to the World Cup winner.
LEFT BACK: DALEY BLIND (NETHERLANDS)
The Netherlands and Feyenoord left back won’t be short of suitors in the summer should he pursue a move. Deployed in coach Louis van Gaal’s 3-4-3/5-3-2/5-2-3 system on the left, he proved to be very good with the ball at his feet, sees a pass, and possesses great match intelligence, typical of a Van Gaal-esque player. With three assists, and a tackle accuracy of 73 percent, he was by far the best left back at the tournament, with Switzerland’s Ricardo Rodriguez just missing out.
CENTRE BACK: MATS HUMMELS (GERMANY)
Without a shadow of a doubt the best central defender in Brazil. Having kept four clean sheets and scored two goals, the Borussia Dortmund man showed against Argentina in the final exactly why he deserves to be selected. The partnership he formed with Jerome Boateng proved formidable, as the two built up a solid understanding. Unable to walk nearing the end of the final, he gave the performance of his life, and just kept out runner-up Ezequiel Garay.
CENTRE BACK: RON VLAAR (NETHERLANDS)
Aston Villa’s centre back, although unglamorous, was efficient and uncompromising. He commanded the Dutch defence with intelligence and with a tackling accuracy of 88 per cent, deserves his place in this XI narrowly keeping out teammate Stefan de Vrij.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: JAVIER MASCHERANO (ARGENTINA)
The Barcelona man really didn’t deserve to be on the losing team in Brazil. He was the tournament’s top tackler with an accuracy of 77 per cent, completing 23 out of 30. He also had the third highest passing accuracy at 88 per cent. More impressive though was his relentless work rate; he just didn’t stop running, and constantly put his body on the line for his country. Paul Pogba of France just missed out on being included.
DEEP-LYING MIDFIELD: TONI KROOS (GERMANY)
Pass-master supremo at the World Cup, with a hit rate of 90 per cent. Irrepressible in the semi-final against Brazil, chipping in with two goals, he also played in a number of positions at the tournament, either behind the striker, or further back. Furthermore, Kroos had the second highest amount of assists with three. Having secured a move to Champions League winners Real Madrid, he will relish his next challenge. Teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger narrowly misses out.
RIGHT WING: JUAN CUADRADO (COLOMBIA)
Responsible for having the highest amount of assists at the World Cup with four, Colombia’s Cuadrado has attracted a number of potential suitors this summer. Currently under Fiorentina’s employ in Serie A, he has benefited from playing with top class players for his country, and can take this to the next level.
LEFT WING: ARJEN ROBBEN (NETHERLANDS)
This man made an impact in every game. Quite possibly the most unplayable performer at the World Cup, once he got on the ball, Robben was virtually unstoppable. Despite scoring three goals, he created a number of chances, even if they weren’t converted. Ghosting into the opposition penalty area on countless occasions, he also proved effective at winning penalties. Super sub, Andre Schurrle of Germany just misses out on being included.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD: JAMES RODRIGUEZ (COLOMBIA)
The man they call ‘Hames’, this boy is seriously the real deal, and could even eclipse Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to become the best player in the World. Unexpectedly he was the top scorer in Brazil with six goals from nine shots, and two assists. His volley against Uruguay was simply phenomenal, arguably one of the best strikes in the history of the competition, and a move to Real Madrid this summer looks likely.
CENTRE FORWARD: THOMAS MULLER (GERMANY)
It’s perhaps apt to round off the team with a World Cup winner. Muller has proved that his Golden Boot award four years ago wasn’t a fluke, even though he just missed out by one goal this time. He consistently proved to be a handful for opponents in a false nine role, and was a key component to Die Mannschaft’s victory. Robin van Perise, who netted on four occasions narrowly misses out.