The 2014 World Cup All-Tournament Team
07/13/2014 7:35 PM
07/13/2014 7:41 PM
(SportsNetwork.com) - The 2014 World Cup was not short on talking points, drama or magic. Just look at Sunday's final.
The finale was billed as Lionel Messi, the world's best player, taking on Germany, the world's best team, but Die Mannschaft stole the glory through another total team performance that culminated in a late goal from Mario Gotze.
It was a storybook end to the tournament for Gotze, a man who had seemingly fallen out of favor with Germany head coach Joachim Low.
One of Germany's primary attacking options at the start of the tournament, the 22-year-old turned out some largely uninspired performances the rest of the way and was consequently relegated to a role as a substitute.
But Gotze assumed the position admirably as he popped off the bench to bag the title-clinching goal with just seven minutes to play in the final, displaying incredible control as he cushioned a cross from Andre Schurrle with his chest and guided a deft volley past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero in one astounding motion.
But while Gotze's heroic moment will be revered in Germany for eternity, is it enough to get the Bayern Munich man a spot in the team of the tournament?
Without further adieu, take a gander at the 2014 World Cup All-Tournament Team:
Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
Navas anchored a defense that conceded just one goal from open play through Costa Rica's run to the quarterfinals, and that strike came in second-half stoppage time of the nation's clash with Greece in the round of 16. The goalkeeper had little to do due to Costa Rica's organized approach to each match, but Navas managed to pull off some spectacular saves when he was called upon. His exploits in Brazil even attracted the attention of several top club teams, but the 27-year-old agreed to cash in on a move to Bayern Munich.
Philipp Lahm (Germany)
Lahm demonstrated his versatility by occupying a few different positions in Germany's run to the trophy. He began the tournament as a holding midfielder but eventually moved to his natural position at right-back to shore up the defense. It was a turning point for Germany, which had looked vulnerable at the back in the group stage and round of 16. Lahm's presence in defense gave the team more balance as the captain kept the Germans organized while still offering a wide option in attack.
Mats Hummels (Germany)
Hummels missed some time in the tournament, but Germany was at its best when the 25-year-old was at the heart of the defense. The Borussia Dortmund man was as much of a two-way player as a central defender can be, scoring goals against Portugal and France while helping Germany keep clean sheets in both contests. While Per Mertesacker was in and out of the lineup and Jerome Boateng switched positions on a regular basis, Hummels was the rock in defense that Germany relied upon.
Ron Vlaar (Netherlands)
The Netherlands defense was viewed as the team's Achilles heel at the start of the World Cup, but some superb play from Vlaar absolved that notion by the tournament's conclusion. Vlaar played every minute of Holland's World Cup run and was the key figure of a defense that conceded just four goals, only two of which came from open play. The Aston Villa man likely will be remembered for his penalty miss in the semifinals against Argentina, but he was sublime in the match up until that point, making several key tackles to thwart Lionel Messi and ensure a clean sheet through extra time.
Marcos Rojo (Argentina)
Like the Netherlands, Argentina only conceded four goals over the course of the tournament, and Marcos Rojo was a major reason why. The 24-year-old was physical when required but also managed to involve himself in the attack when the opportunity presented itself. Rojo was especially sound on set pieces, defending them with great fervor while showing against Nigeria that he can convert at the other end.
James Rodriguez (Colombia)
It is undeniable that Rodriguez was the star of the star of the World Cup. The youngster, who turned 23 on Saturday, was an absolute treat to watch as he appeared to be oblivious to the immense pressure of competing on the grandest of stages. He was influential in virtually all facets, recording three assists to go along with his six goals. Not only did Rodriguez put his stamp on the World Cup by scoring in each of Colombia's five matches, but he did so in remarkable fashion. His dink over Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was a cheeky tally that showed confidence beyond his years, but it was his breathtaking strike against Uruguay in the round of 16 that will go down as one of the tournament's signature moments.
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Messi single-handedly lifted Argentina out of the group stage by netting four of the country's six goals, but the diminutive attacker faded a bit with the commencement of the knockout round, probably due to the fact that opposing teams smothered him with multiple defenders. But the Barcelona man proved in Argentina's clash with Switzerland in the round of 16 that he doesn't need to score to be influential. Messi drew three Swiss defenders out of position and delivered a perfectly-weighted through ball for Angel Di Maria to slot home the winner in extra time. After narrow defeats of Belgium and the Netherlands, Messi had the chance to enhance his legacy with a win over Germany in the final, but even while the 27-year-old was kept in check, his exploits over the course of the entire tournament were enough to garner the Golden Ball award.
Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
Robben was as vital to Holland's success in the World Cup as Messi was to Argentina's. The Bayern Munich man was a constant menace to opposing defenses throughout the tournament, beginning with the good hiding that the Netherlands gave reigning champion Spain in the opening Group B fixture. Robben terrorized Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and Iker Casillas, recording two goals and creating a host of further scoring opportunities. His dynamic play continued against Australia by adding another goal and then against Chile by providing an assist for Memphis Depay following a superb solo run. Still, Robben's tournament was not without controversy as the 30-year-old was constantly labeled a diver, especially after winning a late penalty against Mexico that handed the Dutch a dramatic win, but the pacey winger undoubtedly was Holland's greatest attacking threat throughout the World Cup.
Toni Kroos (Germany)
There is little debate that Germany's greatest strength is its midfield, and the man who ran the show in Brazil was none other than Kroos. Low chopped and changed the midfield frequently during the tournament, moving Lahm into defense and giving more responsibility to Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira, but Kroos was the link that allowed the Germans to remain in top gear. The 24-year-old exhibited sublime passing range as he kept the Germans in rhythm throughout the tournament. He also was quite opportunistic, a trait he showed against Brazil when he capitalized on a pair of gifts to punish the host nation with two goals in Germany's emphatic victory in the semifinals.
Javier Mascherano (Argentina)
Holding midfielders often go largely unnoticed in world football circles, so while Messi garnered the majority of Argentina's headlines, Mascherano flew under the radar with a superb tournament. The 30-year-old did the grunt work that afforded Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella the luxury to deploy more attackers in support of Messi. Argentina's lead-footed defense, a major question mark coming into the World Cup, was glossed over by Mascherano's ability to disrupt opposing teams. He put forth a heroic effort against the Netherlands in the semifinals, making a string of game-saving tackles to deny the Dutch a place in the final.
Thomas Muller (Germany)
Muller gets the nod at striker due to his ability to operate as a "false No. 9." While the Bayern Munich man has lined up all over the pitch during the tournament, he was counted upon to produce goals early on with Miroslav Klose failing to break into the team. Muller repaid Low's faith, scoring four of the team's seven goals in the group stage to clinch top spot in the "Group of Death." The goal well dried up somewhat in the knockout round with his only other goal coming in Germany's pasting of Brazil in the semifinals, but with 10 World Cup goals at the tender age of 24, Muller's penchant for consistently producing at the tournament makes him one of Germany's most valuable assets.
Louis van Gaal (Netherlands)
Van Gaal will be remembered for making a rare goalkeeping substitution just before penalty kicks against Costa Rica in the quarterfinals, a move the paid big dividends as Tim Krul made two crucial saves to send the Netherlands through. But the Dutch tactician meant so much more to the nation's surprising third-place finish than just that one decision. The squad was very inexperienced, especially in defense, and few gave the 2010 runners-up a chance to get out of a tough group that included Spain, Chile and Australia. But Holland won all three of its games in the group stage despite trailing in two of them. Whether it was a timely substitution or a change of formation, Van Gaal made the necessary adjustments to help the team come from behind on several occasions and see a largely unproven Dutch side realize its full potential.
Tim Howard (United States), Mario Yepes (Colombia), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Costa Rica), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia), Karim Benzema (France), Neymar (Brazil).
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