Using a careful selection with considerations of both consistent form, fabulous efforts, quality of the opposition, and team dependence; the staff at the Rhino Press selects the best XI of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Contributors include Shomik Sen and Pamela Banner.
GK: Manuel Neuer (Germany) – As the winner of the 2014 World Cup’s Golden Glove, Manuel Neuer really showed his class and talent on the pitch. Saving numerous balls in his goal, Neuer would only concede 4 goals for Germany. Known as the “Sweeper Keeper,” the goalkeeper successfully kept a clean sheet in Germany’s World Cup Final against Argentina, leading his team to victory.
Left Back: Ricardo Rodriguez (Switzerland) – Though Switzerland didn’t make it terribly far in the tournament, in all four games Rodriguez made a definite difference. With 33 recovered balls in only four games and a protagonist of the Swiss defense that kept Argentina at bay until extra time in the round of 16, it’s only just that he is a member of the best XI.
Center back: Thiago Silva (Brazil) – This dude is a defensive superhero. Okay, he may not have prevented any of the Netherlands 3 goals from entering his goal in the 3rd place match, but he was one of Brazil’s most solid players. His defensive partner David Luiz would often press high up the field, leaving only Silva to deal with counterattacks. Without him, Brazil’s defense crumbled- Germany would beat Brazil by six goals in the only game Silva couldn’t play. He is essential to Brazil’s defense and therefore deserves to be on this Best XI.
Center back: Ron Vlaar (Netherlands) – Starting in every single one of the Netherland’s games, Ron Vlaar was the most crucial player in Netherland’s defense. Recovering nearly 42 balls in the time of the entire tournament, he was solid in the back and was the sole reason many teams could not break Holland.
Right back: Philipp Lahm (Germany) – To say the least, he’s the German national team captain for a reason. Those who have played with him or coached him say he’s intelligent and calculating, which his impressive performance on the field has proven time and time again. He’s a fantastic leader and an even better defender, an asset to any team.
Midfielder: Javier Mascherano (Argentina) – Used as a defensive midfielder for Argentina, Mascherano has effectively handled every team he has played in this World Cup. His most phenomenal performance was of that against Netherlands, when he would manage to block Arjen Robben two times from scoring what might of been a fatal blow for the Argentineans.
Midfielder: Arjen Robben (Netherlands) – Rightly nominated for the Golden Boot this World Cup, Robben is without a doubt a world-class player. Everyone knows his signature move–sprint down the right side of the field dodging defenders and then take a shot–and yet, his quick steps mesmerize and his perfectly timed passes continue to shock players and fans alike.
Midfielder: James Rodriguez (Colombia) – Going into the Cup he was relatively unknown to the world, but now a month later he is anything but. He scored the most goals in the tournament, won the Golden Boot, and won the hearts of fans everywhere all at the humble age of 22. A spot on the best eleven this year is the just the beginning for a midfielder who promises to reach the heights of the soccer greats in the very near future.
Forward: Lionel Messi (Argentina) – Often hailed as the sport’s best player, Lionel Messi is crucial to his team both in club soccer and international. He’s the forward that opposing defenders guard almost religiously, but one mistake that lets the ball touch his feet and a goal is imminent. Argentina could not have made it to the finals this year without his knack for creating valuable plays and his strength in the face of pressure.
Forward: Neymar (Brazil) – Although a particularly aggressive tackle sent him off of the field and out for the remainder of the Cup, Neymar certainly did Brazil proud in the games he played. Versus Germany and Holland the Brazilian team had issues on both ends of the pitch, but offensively the importance of his playmaking and beautifully arched shots was plain to see. He was the face of the Selecao and rightly so, and deserves a place among the 2014 Cup’s best.
Forward: Thomas Muller (Germany) – In two consecutive World Cups he played impeccably, with five goals and three assists in each. He was a favorite to win the Golden Ball this time around and though he didn’t, his performance speaks for itself. Highly versatile and as calculating as the German team captain, the explosive Thomas Muller was definitely one of the new World Champion’s strongest players.