Picking a Combined South American World Cup XI

Dan Colasimone@@ArgentinaFWContributor IMarch 21, 2014

Picking a Combined South American World Cup XI

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    Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

    Here we are selecting a combined starting 11 from all the South American teams who will be participating at the 2014 World Cup.

    The sides from the host continent are expected to do very well this time around, and it will be no surprise to see one or more of them go very deep into the tournament.

    With so much talent to choose from, some excellent players were destined to miss out on our 11.

    Here are a few players who were unlucky not to make it. They form our reserves bench: Sergio Romero, Dani Alves, David Luiz, Antonio Valencia, Javier Mascherano, Alexis Sanchez, Edinson Cavani, Jefferson Montero, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Oscar. 

Goalkeeper: Muslera

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    Fernando Llano/Associated Press

    The Uruguay keeper edges out Argentina'a reliable Romero thanks to his ability to occasionally pull off some truly astonishing saves.

    Fernando Muslera is still only 27, yet he has 60 international caps and has performed admirably at two major tournaments: the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 Copa America.

    He will be key to Uruguay's chances in Brazil.

Right-Back: Mauricio Isla

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    This will be a controversial choice, but the all-round game of Mauricio Isla sees him chosen on the right side of defense over Brazilian superstar Dani Alves, who is still a wonderful player but not quite the force of nature he once was.

    Isla is crucial to Chile's dynamic attacking system and will be looking to get forward to join his side's offense as frequently as possible at the World Cup.

Centre-Back: Thiago Silva

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    The big Brazilian centre-half is supremely comfortable with the ball at his feet and is almost flawless as a defender as well.

    One of the most natural readers of the game at the moment, he sets the benchmark in world football for defensive players and oozes class in everything he does.

Centre-Back: Cristian Zapata

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    Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

    Tall, quick and strong, Cristian Zapata adds physical presence to the back line, though he is far more than just a natural athlete.

    Colombia has a habit of producing classy defenders, and Zapata is yet another example.

    He was a rock during his side's superb World Cup qualifying campaign and is set for a strong tournament in Brazil.

Left-Back: Marcelo

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    Real Madrid left-back Marcelo has his faults as a defender, but these are difficult for opponents to exploit as they are usually occupied with trying to limit his attacking influence. 

    For both club and country, the skillful and energetic left-sided player is often to be found deep in enemy territory, playing neat passes with teammates or sending in dangerous crosses.

Midfielder: Gary Medel

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    Michael Probst/Associated Press

    The deep-lying midfielder in the side is Chile's Gary Medel, who is effective at shielding the defense and playing accurate passes to his more offense-minded companions.

    The Pitbull will also add a touch of menace to a team filled with stylish players.

    Javier Mascherano would be first choice if Medel gets suspended.

Midfielder: Arturo Vidal

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    Chilean dynamo Arturo Vidal is brilliant in just about every facet of the game and will be the hub in the centre of the park for our side.

    He can defend, pass and shoot with great venom, and he has the stamina to run all day.

    In short, he is the complete midfielder and would walk into any international side.

Midfielder: Angel Di Maria

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    Providing the perfect balance of forward thrust and defensive graft to the midfield is Argentina's Angel di Maria.

    Underrated by some, the Real Madrid man can be blistering in attack and highly disciplined in tracking back to defend. 

Forward: Luis Suarez

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    There are few players on the planet who could claim to be in better form this season than Liverpool's Luis Suarez.

    The Uruguayan hit man has looked unstoppable at times and promises to be a nightmare for defenders to deal with at the World Cup.

Forward: Neymar

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    He has the weight of a nation's expectations on his shoulders, but thus far it doesn't seem to have affected Neymar one bit.

    Though he is still finding his feet somewhat at Barcelona, the 22-year-old is the dominant player on the pitch just about every time he runs out in Brazilian colors.

    Potentially the star of the tournament, Neymar is good enough to live up to the hype.

Forward: Lionel Messi

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    If Lionel Messi arrives in Brazil fully fit, Argentina must fancy their chances of winning the World Cup.

    Under Alejandro Sabella, the Albicelestes have finally seen the best of Messi, and he has been quite brilliant for the national team over the past 18 months or so.

    This could be the tournament that confirms Messi's status as a legend of the game.