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World Cup 2014

World Cup Players XI (1st round of Group Stage)

World Cup XI 1

Players in red are part of our Talent Radar feature

Keylor Navas | Costa Rica, 27: Costa Rica’s No.1 keeper continued the reputation he developed at Levante. With some good saves against Uruguay after coming under pressure, Navas impressed us after the first round of fixtures, more so that some of the others did (there weren’t too many to choose from.

Matts Hummels | Germany, 25: Although helped by the red card, Hummels formed a rock solid defensive partnership with Mertesacker, keeping a rather weak Portuguese attach (and Ronaldo) quiet throughout the game. A thumping header further influenced our decision, but it is his defensive solidity that convinced us.

Rafael Marquez | Mexico, 35: Though unspectacular, captain Marquez helped his side keep Cameroon at bay in a rather drab match with Cameroon having the edge in attack. Just the solitary goal separated the two as Marquez helped keep his three man central defence extremely mature & organised.

Serge Aurier | Ivory Coast, 21: Ivory Coast’s young right-back put in a game changing shift, the details of which can be read here. A bit suspect defensively at the start. he put in a game changing performance in attack, putting two World class crosses in the second half in the space of two minutes, turning the game on it’s head.

Ricardo Rodriguez | Switzerland, 21: Like Aurier before him, Ricardo Rodriguez’ attacking performance was the attractive feature of his game. Though the Swiss were poor at the start, Ricardo Rodriguez’ early second corner and late second half cross helped the Swiss come from a goal down and take all three points.

Andrea Pirlo | Italy, 35: On a day when the big question mark was Gerrard vs Pirlo, the Italian playmaker was the outright winner. Though his biggest contribution involved him moving away from the ball allowing Marchisio to shoot, his usual flawless & smooth performance was incredible to watch, helping Italy to get a win.

Oscar | Brazil, 22: Defensive contribution, connecting the back four with the front, and giving his own helping hand in attack, Oscar played a proper midfielders’ role. A detail report can be read here. He started off on the wide right with some threatening crosses, but closely shifted into a more central role and proved to be more effective.

Arjen Robben | Netherlands, 30: On the Dutch’s most famous victory of recent times, Robben rolled back the years to put in an incredible shift. Composure for the first and raw pace for the second, you couldn’t tell Robben was a 30-yr-old if you had seen his brace against the Spanish. A more deeper role helping in his performance than that in the first half.

Robin Van Persie | Netherlands, 30: Van Persie’s incredible header is enough to get him into this XI, but on the whole his performance was rather impressive. Though one must criticise him for not being involved until the goal, his shift following that equaliser was remarkable, and more reminiscent of the Van Persie we’ve come to know.

Thomas Muller | Germany, 24: A hat-trick in the first World Cup game, doesn’t get better than that does it? A certain Miroslav Klose will know a thing or two about that having scored a hat-trick in the opener vs Saudi Arabia 12 years back. And as Klose chases Ronaldo’s all-time World Cup record, one must wonder how long before Muller sets his own.

Karim Benzema | France, 26: The Real Madrid man nearly had a hat-trick himself, and although it was against a rather weak opposition further weakened by the red-card, Benzema’s striker instinct helped the French to victory. He’s the sort of player you’d want at the World Cup and the one France will rely on.

Read all our World Cup content here

Sami Faizullah

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