Tracking Barcelona Player Performance in World Cup Group Stages

Jason PettigroveContributor IJune 12, 2014

Tracking Barcelona Player Performance in World Cup Group Stages

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    Once again Lionel Messi was Argentina's hero.
    Once again Lionel Messi was Argentina's hero.Michael Sohn/Associated Press

    Barcelona have provided no fewer than 13 players for the World Cup in Brazil.

    Per FCBarcelona.com, Spain will again be the major beneficiaries with seven Blaugrana players representing La Roja.

    They are Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Pedro Rodriguez and—until he signed for Chelsea on Thursday—Cesc Fabregas.

    Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano will turn out for Argentina whilst Neymar and Dani Alves are selected for the hosts.

    Alexis Sanchez will lead the line for Chile, Alex Song represents Cameroon while new-signing Ivan Rakitic is crucial to Croatia's hopes.

    It promises to be a fiesta of football, and this column will track the performances of every Barca player throughout the group stages.

    With these pages being constantly updated, remember to keep checking back over the first couple of weeks of the tournament.

    All stats supplied by either Squawka.com or WhoScored.com.

    —Last updated: Wednesday June 25—

Lionel Messi

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    Where would Argentina be without Lionel Messi?
    Where would Argentina be without Lionel Messi?Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Nigeria

    Minutes Played: 62

    Touches: 44

    Shots: 4

    Tackles: 0

    Successful pass completion: 88 percent

    Started the match as he meant to go on by volleying the ball with menace into the roof of the net after just 2 minutes, once Angel Di Maria had seen his shot rebound off of the post twice.

    Played in Gonzalo Higuain with a pinpoint pass but the Napoli striker unable to take advantage, and continued to link well with Higuain and Sergio Ageuro until the latter had to leave the field through injury.

    A stunning free kick on 43 minutes was heading inside the post before being parried wide, but just a minute later Messi's direct running led to a foul and another set piece. Step forward Argentina's number 10 to make no mistake and put his team 2-1 ahead at the break. Breathtaking.

    Continued to probe in the second half until a sensible decision by Alejandro Sabella to substitute him just after the hour mark.

Javier Mascherano

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    Javier Mascherano did the simple things well against Nigeria.
    Javier Mascherano did the simple things well against Nigeria.Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Nigeria

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 80

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 5

    Successful pass completion: 93 percent

    Took a nasty blow to the ankle in the opening couple of moments as Nigeria sought to impose some early authority.

    Recovered well to provide a real presence centrally with accurate distribution a feature of his play throughout the first period. Did the simple things well.

    Handed the captain's armband by Lionel Messi after he was subbed on 62 minutes, and continued to take the hits for the team, putting his feet in where it hurts.

    Argentina became ragged during the final half hour and it wouldn't have been a surprise had Nigeria equalised. Mascherano became peripheral for longer periods but still managed to time challenges well when required.

    After not having scored for four years before the warm up games, he nearly made it a second in as many weeks as he let fly from distance.

    Not his best game overall, but an acceptable performance.

Neymar

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    Neymar was simply breathtaking against Cameroon.
    Neymar was simply breathtaking against Cameroon.Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Cameroon

    Minutes Played: 70

    Touches: 52

    Shots: 4

    Tackles: 0

    Successful pass completion: 83 percent

    Neymar was in virtuoso "Santos" type form. Step overs, double drag-backs, they were all on show. As well as a snipers eye for goal.

    As early as the second minute, he provided a great chance for Fred which wasn't taken. Chased aimless long balls during the opening quarter of an hour, and was industrious without being any great threat.

    Got his reward on 17 minutes and showed his class when he opened his body up to receive a pass from Luis Gustavo and expertly guided it home.

    Just two minutes later he executed a stunning volley which was on target but beaten over by Charles Itandje. It deserved a goal.

    Gave the Selecao the lead again on 34 minutes with an exquisite strike, drawing three defenders before deceiving Itandje and almost completed his hat-trick early in the second half with a wicked free-kick which Itandje did well to parry.

    Proved to be a constant thorn in Cameroon's side until he was substituted on 70 minutes.

Dani Alves

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    Dani Alves was at fault for Cameroon's first goal.
    Dani Alves was at fault for Cameroon's first goal.Dolores Ochoa/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Cameroon

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 74

    Shots: 1

    Tackles: 7

    Successful pass completion: 84 percent

    Started the game well with a superb long pass to Neymar in 2nd minute, which ultimately ended in nothing.

    Began to show his Barcelona form, being beaten far too easily down the right side on numerous occasions in the opening 15 minutes. Vincent Aboubakar passed him like he wasn’t there on 12, and only David Luiz stopping a certain goal.

    No such luck when Nyom brushed him aside and crossed for Joel Matip to level the scores on 26 minutes.

    Got caught in possession yet again on 54 minutes and was lucky to hear the referees whistle as the three-on-one scenario that had developed just outside of the Brazilian penalty area would surely have resulted in another goal for Cameroon.

    Coasted through the latter stages as their opponents began to wilt under constant Brazilian pressure. Got forward and linked well although was still caught out of position on occasion and will be exposed badly against Chile if he doesn't learn his lesson.

Ivan Rakitic

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    Ivan Rakitic worked hard throughout the match against Mexico.
    Ivan Rakitic worked hard throughout the match against Mexico.Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Mexico

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 80

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 2

    Successful pass completion: 88 percent

    Wanted to be involved at every opportunity, constantly looking for the ball and foraging in the midfield areas.

    Rakitic carried the fight to a sprightly Mexican side in the early stages and was booked for a nasty “studs up” challenge on eight minutes, which could’ve easily been red if it had been later in the game.

    Linked reasonably well with Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic in the first half without creating too much, as the Croatians attempted to stifle the Mexican threat.

    Had to dig in and put in a shift throughout the second half as wave upon wave of El Tri attacks forced the Croats into a backs-against-the-wall performance.

    Rarely threatened after half time and faded badly towards the end as his side bowed out of the tournament.

Alexis Sanchez

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    Alexis Sanchez was at the heart of everything good that Chile did.
    Alexis Sanchez was at the heart of everything good that Chile did.Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Holland

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 82

    Shots: 2

    Tackles: 0

    Successful pass completion: 69 percent

    Alexis Sanchez played a typical game, hustling and harrying and not giving his Dutch markers a moment's peace.

    Right from the first whistle, Sanchez made himself busy and a delightful early through ball deserved better than the poor finish it received.

    He continued to get right under the skin of the likes of Ron Vlaar and Daley Blind, both of whom gave away free kicks after numerous fouls on the player. , giving the Dutch the runaround at times.

    Involved in a well worked corner routine on 22 minutes that unfortunately led to nothing, and anything good that Chile produced in the opening half came via Sanchez. 

    Constantly fouled in the second half as he made a real nuisance of himself without providing too much of a threat.

    His whipped-in corner on 80 minutes should've resulted in a penalty for Chile as the ball was kept out by De Vrij's arm.

Jordi Alba

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    Jordi Alba's performance was much more akin to how he usually plays.
    Jordi Alba's performance was much more akin to how he usually plays.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Australia

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 108

    Shots: 1

    Tackles: 5

    Successful pass completion: 88 percent

    This was much more like the Jordi Alba that Barcelona fans are used to seeing on a regular basis.

    A trademark lung-bursting run after six minutes set the tone which continued throughout the first half. He should've really scored after a back heel left Alba one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot directly at the custodian was wasteful.

    As he was when in possession of the football. When rampaging down the left side Alba provided swift, accurate ball, but control of the short, sharp game deserted him at times.

    Noticeably higher up the pitch in the second half but faded significantly.

Andres Iniesta

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    Andres Iniesta ran the Spanish midfield in their final group game.
    Andres Iniesta ran the Spanish midfield in their final group game.Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Australia

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 105

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 3

    Successful pass completion: 88 percent

    Almost every Spanish play went through Andres Iniesta in the early stages. Delighting in a Xavi-type roving role, Iniesta worked the quick, short balls and returns to maximum effect.

    Found acres of space throughout the opening half and managed to dig out a superb cross on the 20 minute mark which David Villa volleyed over.

    Worked hard with Fernando Torres and Villa to keep the Australian back line on their toes and wasn't averse to getting back and defending in front of his own area.

    His stunning pass to Fernando Torres that split the Australian defence on 69 minutes gave El Nino an easy chance, and he made no mistake with a trademark finish.

    Controlled the game from thereon. 

     

Javier Mascherano

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    Javier Mascherano had a quiet game.
    Javier Mascherano had a quiet game.Jon Super/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Iran

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 111

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 6

    Successful pass completion: 92 percent

    Javier Mascherano was rarely troubled in open play during the first half, although he looked vulnerable from the high ball in from a corner or free kick. 

    Was warned by the referee for getting too close to the Iranian attackers at set-pieces perhaps evidencing his nervousness at the same.

    Caught out on a number of occasions during the second period, giving away needless free kicks, but was competent enough when in actual possession of the football.

    Great long ball to Palacio almost led to the opening goal and almost immediately afterwards was outpaced on the break when Sergio Romero got him out of jail.

Lionel Messi

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    Iran paid close attention to Lionel Messi.
    Iran paid close attention to Lionel Messi.Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Iran

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 68

    Shots: 6

    Tackles: 0

    Successful pass completion: 93 percent

    In much the same way as he started the game against Bosnia Herzegovina, Lionel Messi was conspicuous by his absence. Iran kept him under very close attention and it wasn't until after the 10 minutes mark before La Pulga began to get involved.

    Intelligent movement and some sharp passing to the likes of Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain kept the Iran back four on their toes throughout the half. 

    Should've done better with a free-kick just after the half hour mark, and another a few moments later found Fernando Gago who headed over when well placed.

    His incisive run and shot just before the hour only just missed the post, and when he shaped to shoot for a certain goal on 61, he was expertly dispossessed by Teymourian.

    Was close to opening the scoring with a vicious free kick on 73 which hit the side netting. 

    In general terms, there were far too many defenders swarming around him at all times for him to make a difference.

    That was until a moment of genius in the 91st minute. For the first time in the game he had space to move the ball. A quick look up and then a curved shot into the opposite corner against a fully stretched Alireza Haghighi.

    It was a goal worthy of winning any game.

Ivan Rakitic

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    Ivan Rakitic showed just why Barcelona have made him their most recent signing.
    Ivan Rakitic showed just why Barcelona have made him their most recent signing.Phil Walter/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Cameroon

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 79

    Shots: 1

    Tackles: 0

    Successful pass completion: 86 percent

    First meaningful contribution came from a long-ranger in the 16th minute which was easily gathered. Until that point, Rakitic just made himself available for short, sharp passes in the central midfield areas.

    Got more involved as the half went on and was especially dangerous from the set-piece. After Alex Song was sent off, the Croatian regularly found himself in space and more able to play his natural game.

    Took the ball almost the full length of the field on 54 minutes, gliding though the centre before playing a crisp pass wide, going for the return, but not receiving it.

    The extra man advantage gave Rakatic and Luca Modric acres of room and a licence to explore. Some of the passes that the former was pinging all over the pitch were exquisite, his languid style pleasing on the eye.

    Almost got on the scoresheet with a couple of minutes left but a dink over the keeper from the counter attack, went just the wrong side of the post.

Alex Song

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    Alex Song was deservedly red-carded before half time.
    Alex Song was deservedly red-carded before half time.Phil Walter/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Croatia

    Minutes Played: 39

    Touches: 30

    Shots: 1

    Tackles: 0

    Successful pass completion: 82 percent

    Alex Song had a relatively quiet start to the match, but when he was allowed to get into his stride, looked powerful in possession. 

    Had a shot charged down on 19 minutes when well placed and took the game to the opposition when circumstances allowed.

    Looked like he could become a real influence across the 90 minutes for Cameroon until a complete rush of blood saw him deservedly red-carded before half time.

    As Croatia broke down the left side, Song inexplicably elbowed Mario Mandzukic in the back, in full view of the referee who had no option other than to send him off.

Jordi Alba

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    Jordi Alba was dominated throughout the game against Chile.
    Jordi Alba was dominated throughout the game against Chile.Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Chile

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 93

    Shots: 2

    Tackles: 2

    Successful pass completion: 75 percent

    For the second game in a row, Jordi Alba was rarely involved. Looking far from match fit, his first half performance was instantly forgettable.

    Any forward runs were instantly blocked by a handful of exuberant and well-drilled Chileans.

    Really did nothing at all to warrant further comment.

Sergio Busquets

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    The double pivot didn't suit Spain.
    The double pivot didn't suit Spain.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Chile

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 67

    Shots: 1

    Tackles: 1

    Successful pass completion: 98 percent

    The double pivot of the first half was clearly not working for Spain, and both Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets were anonymous. 

    Just one tackle and little else of note from one of Barcelona's best players in the opening 45.

    The game against Chile was Busquets' 68th cap for the national team and he had never scored. On 53 minutes and just three yards out, he will never have a better chance to open his account.

    That he swung wildly and missed told you everything about the brittle confidence of the Spaniards.

    Unusually for him, gave away far too many balls as Spain tired towards the end of the game. One such laboured pass almost saw Alexis Sanchez score from a breakaway.

    Completely out of sorts by full time.

Andres Iniesta

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    Andres Iniesta was crowded out almost every time he had the ball.
    Andres Iniesta was crowded out almost every time he had the ball.David Ramos/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Chile

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 76

    Shots: 1

    Tackles: 1

    Successful pass completion: 85 percent

    As with most of his team mates, Andres Iniesta was barely in the game during the opening 10 minutes.

    Came into the match much more before half time, but despite his passing being on point, the movement up front from the likes of Diego Costa and David Silva was poor. The result was too many wasted through balls.

    Played an unusually loose ball just before half time after pressure from the Chileans who continued to . crowd him out.

    Set up the first chance of the second half with a sublime through ball to Costa on 48 minutes, which deserved a better finish than it got.  

    Hugely frustrating game for the magician who continued to be crowded out time after time. A brilliant long-range effort on 83 deserved a goal by Claudio Bravo was equal to it.

Pedro Rodriguez

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    Pedro was quick and alert but not incisive.
    Pedro was quick and alert but not incisive.USA TODAY Sports

    Game: vs. Chile

    Minutes Played: 75

    Touches: 43

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 1

    Successful pass completion: 85 percent

    Played in much the same way as he does for Barcelona. Sharp, incisive and willing to chase every lost cause, there wasn't much you could reproach Pedro for in the first half, save for a couple of wayward touches.

    Never really got going after half-time, and it wasn't too much of a surprise when he was substituted with 15 minutes to go.

Alexis Sanchez

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    Alexis Sanchez was the best player of the first half.
    Alexis Sanchez was the best player of the first half.Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Spain

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 55

    Shots: 1

    Tackles: 3

    Successful pass completion: 68 percent

    As expected, Alexis Sanchez was central to all of the good things that Chile did in the game.

    Hardworking and industrious, he was instrumental in setting up first goal, taking out 4 Spanish players with one pass, eventually finding it's way to Eduardo Vargas to open the scoring.

    A real thorn in the side to his Barca colleagues, he chased everything, questioned every decision. 

    Iker Casillas should've saved his free-kick which led to the second goal just before half time.

    Great break on 70 minutes as he picked up a wayward Sergio Busquets pass, just didn't have the legs to make anything of the chance.

    Man of the match by a country mile.

Neymar

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    Neymar remains Brazil's go-to player.
    Neymar remains Brazil's go-to player.Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Mexico

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 61

    Shots: 3

    Tackles: 0

    Successful pass completion: 87 percent

    Neymar started off this match quite auspiciously, being tackled by his own player Fred on 5 minutes. Jose Vasquez was not giving him any room to manoeuvre in the centre and his frustrations manifested itself with a wild challenge in 12th minute, for which he escaped a booking.

    Was involved twice in a sweeping move on 25 minutes, once when he played an exquisite outside-of-the-boot pass and then as the move came back to his side of the pitch, a towering jump almost saw his header creep inside the post. Only an outstanding save from Guillermo Ochoa denying him.

    Just after the half hour he took on all-comers during an incisive run to the heart of the Mexican defence. It took four players to stop him in a half where he remained Brazil's go-to man.

    Drew numerous fouls in the second period as his trickery completely outwitted Mexico when he was in full control and possession of the football, and was denied by another brilliant Ochoa save just after the hour mark as the hosts sought to press home an advantage. 

    Worked extremely hard in the latter stages to fashion a chance, but Mexico were up to the challenge.

Dani Alves

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    Dani Alves got forward at every opportunity.
    Dani Alves got forward at every opportunity.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Mexico

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 73

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 1

    Successful pass completion: 85 percent

    A newly highlighted Dani Alves was as industrious as ever in the opening stages.

    His all-action display landed him in trouble twice as his exuberance got the better of him. Two wild challenges should have been punished by a card, but he was lucky to escape with just the free-kicks against his side.

    Easily beaten for pace by Andres Guardado just before half time and by Miguel Layun just after the hour as Mexico looked to exploit the weakness.

    Faded badly later in the second half. A lot of effort for little reward.

Lionel Messi

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    Lionel Messi showed flashes of brilliance.
    Lionel Messi showed flashes of brilliance.Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Bosnia Herzegovina

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 97

    Shots: 4

    Tackles: 1

    Successful pass completion: 80 percent

    Lionel Messi at the Maracana. For football fans it doesn't really get much better.

    A slow start was unexpected but a 3-5-2 formation patently didn't suit either Messi or the team in general in the opening stages of the game.

    A whipped free-kick which led to the first goal aside, it was a quiet first half.

    The introduction of Gonzalo Higuain and a 4-3-3 set up had the desired effect. Messi was rampant in the second period and his goal was a work of art.

    Despite no more goals, La Pulga was everywhere, probing and prompting. In the end the win was much more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

Javier Mascherano

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    Javier Mascherano's performance was adequate without being spectacular.
    Javier Mascherano's performance was adequate without being spectacular.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Bosnia Herzegovina

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 112

    Shots: 1

    Tackles: 4

    Successful pass completion: 97 percent

    First meaningful action was to give away a free kick on the edge of the box on 13 minutes, which luckily went unpunished.

    Generally tidy in possession during the first half, but his first touch that let him down on occasions. Also guilty of tracking the ball rather than the player.

    Did the simple things well in the second half. Brilliant block on 80 minutes sent Lionel Messi scampering forward on a counter attack which eventually came to nothing. 

Alexis Sanchez

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    Alexis Sanchez was at his brilliant best for Chile in their match against Australia.
    Alexis Sanchez was at his brilliant best for Chile in their match against Australia.Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Australia

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 67

    Shots: 2

    Tackles: 1

    Successful pass completion: 76 percent

    On this sort of form, Barcelona would be mad to get rid of Alexis Sanchez.

    Despite tying himself in knots in the lead up to the first goal, a fortuitous return ball was dispatched with aplomb. Just two minutes later a stunning turn, direct run and pinpoint pass to Jorge Valdivia saw Chile two to the good after 14 minutes.

    Step-overs on 25 minutes were a sign of his confidence although they came to nothing, and the work ethic for which he is known was evidenced just before the half hour as he tracked back into the right back position forcing an error.  

    Had a quiet start to the second half and took a painful knock to the shin after a wild swing by Mile Jedinak. Great pass to set up what looked to be the third goal after an hour, until a last-ditch goal-line saving clearance by Alex Wilkinson.

    After that Alexis only really got involved in fits and starts, but a decent night's work that he can be pleased with.

Gerard Pique

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    Gerard Pique was well off the pace against the Dutch.
    Gerard Pique was well off the pace against the Dutch.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Holland

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 83

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 3

    Successful pass completion: 88 percent

    Had a quiet opening few minutes but the signs of what was to happen were there as early as the 12th minute when Pique allowed Wesley Sneijder to motor past him, only to shoot straight at Casillas.

    At fault for Arjen Robben's first goal, the Dutchman given time to control the dropping ball before turning Pique inside out and scoring. Something that Barcelona fans had seen all too often during last season.

    Woefully out of position for Robben’s second when a high line wasn't necessary.

    Not a good night's work.

Jordi Alba

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    We didn't see any of Jordi Alba's trademark runs against Holland.
    We didn't see any of Jordi Alba's trademark runs against Holland.Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Holland

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 79

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 2

    Successful pass completion: 85 percent

    A very quiet night for Jordi Alba. Was bullied off of the ball on a number of occasions and his performance lacked any sort of spark whatsoever.

    Not one of his trademark runs in evidence and was even easily beaten down the flank by Jonathan De Guzman on a few occasions.

    Had no answers to the on-rushing Robben either, in an off-colour showing.

Andres Iniesta

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    Despite some exquisite passes, Andres Iniesta was quiet by his usual standards.
    Despite some exquisite passes, Andres Iniesta was quiet by his usual standards.Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Holland

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 92

    Shots: 2

    Tackles: 3

    Successful pass completion: 87 percent

    His phenomenal reverse pass on 42 minutes for David Silva was worth the gate money alone. It was exquisite, but we've come to expect that from Barca's midfield genius.

    When he had room to work, he generally made it count, but was shut out of the game for long periods.

    Long range shot on 49 sailed over and that was as close as he would come.

Xavi Hernandez

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    A packed midfield ensured that Xavi couldn't conduct proceedings.
    A packed midfield ensured that Xavi couldn't conduct proceedings.Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Holland

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 85

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 0

    Successful pass completion: 91 percent

    Not sure Xavi has ever been kept so quiet. Barely affected the game at all other than his superb pass to Diego Costa which led to the penalty.

    Had to drop far too deep, especially in the early stages, and with the midfield getting completely overrun as both sides opted to pack out the central areas, Xavi just couldn't get his natural passing game going.

    Anonymous in the second half.

Sergio Busquets

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    Sergio Busquets was dominated uncharacteristically in the heart of the midfield.
    Sergio Busquets was dominated uncharacteristically in the heart of the midfield.Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Holland

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 77

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 2

    Successful pass completion: 97 percent

    Sergio Busquets put his marker down as early as the opening minute with a crude challenge on Wesley Sneijder. Went down twice himself in the first quarter hour from challenges which were far from reckless.

    Maintained a formidable "brick wall" alongside Xabi Alonso in the early stages, but was uncharacteristically giving the ball away in the second period. Couldn't settle in the latter stages as the Dutch ran riot through the central areas.

     

Pedro Rodriguez

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    Pedro Rodriguez wasn't given enough time to affect the game.
    Pedro Rodriguez wasn't given enough time to affect the game.Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Holland

    Minutes Played: 28

    Touches: 25

    Shots: 1

    Tackles: 0

    Successful pass completion: 88 percent

    Replaced Xabi Alonso on 62 minutes and was on the end of a wild challenge from Robin Van Persie on 65. Managed to get a superb header on target on 67 minutes only for Silva’s follow up to be adjudged offside.

    Didn't do too much else of note in the time he had on the pitch.

     

     

Alex Song

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    Alex Song performed adequately in the driving rain.
    Alex Song performed adequately in the driving rain.Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Mexico

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 39

    Shots: 0

    Tackles: 0

    Successful pass completion: 97 percent

    Alex Song didn't do an awful lot in this game, as his stats will attest. Over a 90 minute period at this level you will never affect the game if you don't get involved.

    Most of his touches were sideways to team-mates and there was no creativity or incisiveness about his play. Gave away a free kick after scything down Giovani Dos Santos which rather summed up his game.

     

Neymar

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    Neymar's strike brought Brazil back into the game.
    Neymar's strike brought Brazil back into the game.Elsa/Getty Images

    Game: vs. Croatia

    Minutes Played: 87

    Touches: 72

    Shots: 4

    Tackles: 1

    Successful pass completion: 79 percent

    It took Neymar a while to get going, but when he did, the entire stadium burst into life with him.

    Sensing the danger he brings to the party, the Croats kept him well-marshalled in the first quarter hour, and perhaps frustrated by the close attention, he was lucky to stay on the pitch after a stray elbow caught Luca Modric in the face on 21 minutes.

    Just five minutes later, a strike from outside the box found its way into the net off the foot of the post.

    It might not have been the cleanest shot he's ever struck, but the relief was palpable, and it was his 32nd goal in 50 appearances for Brazil. Phenomenal.

    The goal brought Neymar to life, and he was a lot busier throughout the rest of the half.

    A great run on 64 minutes was brought to an abrupt end by Corluka, but he was not to be denied. A contentious penalty decision and an interesting run-up aside, Neymar dispatched his and Brazil's second goal on 70 minutes.

    For the remaining 17 minutes that he was on the pitch, he was busy and bright, and with luck on his side, he could have had an opening-day hat-trick.

Dani Alves

31 of 31

    Dani Alves had a quiet game by his standards.
    Dani Alves had a quiet game by his standards.Felipe Dana/Associated Press

    Game: vs. Croatia

    Minutes Played: 90

    Touches: 105

    Shots: 2

    Tackles: 5

    Successful pass completion: 86 percent

    Dani Alves had a sub-par performance by his standards. Sluggish from the early moments, he was easily out-jumped by Ivica Olic in his first aerial challenge and was caught in possession by the same player a few minutes later.

    A couple of surging runs came to nothing, his well-renowned crossing ability letting him down at the vital moments, particularly in the first half.

    His forays into the opposite half were far less frequent in the second half, and when he did get forward, he wasn't particularly decisive.

    A free-kick that was blazed over on 66 minutes summed up his night's work.