FIFA World Cup

World Cup 2014: Best XI of Day 3 with Pirlo, James Rodriguez and Joel Campbell

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2014

World Cup 2014: Best XI of Day 3 with Pirlo, James Rodriguez and Joel Campbell

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Day 3 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup proved to be another spectacular one, with four games providing 13 goals, plenty of great performances and a big shock result.

    Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy and Ivory Coast all emerged victorious after wins over Greece, Uruguay, England and Japan respectively, as Groups C and D both got underway.

    We've taken the best performers from Day 3 and put them together into a combined XI for you—leave your suggestions for other worthy candidates in the comments below. Here, we line up our team in a 4-1-4-1 system.

GK: David Ospina, COL

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    Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

    Colombia got themselves off to the perfect start with a win, three goals—and a clean sheet.

    David Ospina had a quiet enough afternoon, but the work he needed to do, he did well, including pulling off two very good saves.

    He was beaten by a Gekas header but saved by his woodwork, and aside from that, he enjoyed a very comfortable time, taking the ball well in the air and distributing quickly.

RB: Matteo Darmian, ITA

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    Martin Mejia/Associated Press

    Matteo Darmian might not have been expected to start the tournament for the Italy team, but he performed excellently at right-back against England.

    He surged forward well, doubled up down the flank when possible and was impressive in his distribution, while he also defended well and didn't really have too many problems other than one pass played in behind him—which resulted in a goal.

    Even so, Darmian was a very strong performer for his side and just nicks a place ahead of Ivory Coast's Serge Aurier.

CB: Gary Cahill, ENG

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    Martin Mejia/Associated Press

    England defended well for the most part against Italy, with a good team shape and a strong central area for much of the first half when Italy dominated possession.

    Gary Cahill was pivotal in that work, making several clearances and isolating Mario Balotelli from the buildup play, holding the centre together with good organisation and generally looking comfortable.

    There was little he could do about the second Italian goal, having taken up his position in the middle and not having a full-back covering the striker's pull away at the back post.

CB: Mario Yepes, COL

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    Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

    At 38 years of age and winning his 99th cap for Colombia, it was already an impressive feat for captain Mario Yepes to be facing Greece.

    His performance in the game was excellent, though, rock solid in the air against an early barrage of crosses and similarly reliable on the ground, stopping the few runners through the centre.

    A lung-bursting run from centre-back to centre-forward made a mockery of his age, too, and as he approaches his century, he looks in fine condition and ready to lead his side to the knockouts.

LB: Cristian Gamboa, CRI

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Cristian Gamboa played as Costa Rica's right wing-back, but we're shoe-horning him into the side on account of his fantastic performance.

    The fleet-footed wide man was a constant outlet for Costa Rica against Uruguay, racing into the middle and final thirds to be an out-ball and release the pressure, important early on when the South Americans were on top without being overly impressive.

    His crossing was telling too, creating chances, including Campbell's equaliser.

CM: Andrea Pirlo, ITA

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Andrea Pirlo dictated play for Italy as you'd expect, though England were happy to stand off him in the first half and contain the movement of the Italians further up the field.

    He still played a huge part in the flow of the game, dummied the ball beautifully for the opening goal and smacked the crossbar with an amazing late free-kick.

    His movement off the ball, control under pressure and ability to keep picking passes late on in the match was exemplary.

RM: Antonio Candreva, ITA

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    Adam Pretty/Getty Images

    Ahead of Darmian, Antonio Candreva was a massive thorn in the side of England's defence.

    His constant raiding into space caused no end of problems for Leighton Baines at left-back, who could not decide whether to push on or stand off.

    Candreva delivered quality from wide but also contributed to more patient buildup play, kept the possession cycling for Italy in the first half and was generally one of their biggest threats throughout the game.

AM: James Rodriguez, COL

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    Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

    Colombia's playmaker James Rodriguez was essential to their game plan, with most of their forward movement going through him.

    The South American side attacked quickly in the final third, exchanging passes through Rodriguez with the pacy attackers beside him and Teo ahead.

    Rodriguez's vision and dribbling ability was central to all that, while his fine finish at the end wrapped up the points for his country.

AM: Raheem Sterling, ENG

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    England might have been defeated by Italy, but the decision to play Raheem Sterling from the start was a big success.

    His pace and dribbling troubled the Italian defence from the first whistle, side-stepping challenges and getting shots away. He also created England's goal with an excellent through pass.

    He faded from the game somewhat before getting involved again later on and was the team's biggest threat on the night, playing initially through the middle and later on the flank.

LM: Victor Ibarbo, COL

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    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Victor Ibarbo was the man who essentially took the place of the missing Radamel Falcao in the Colombia team, coming in on the left flank to move James Rodriguez central and Teo up front.

    Ibarbo's pace and power was plain to see from the first minute, but Greece simply couldn't cope with it as he made run after run down the wing, beating his man on the outside or looking to accelerate into space behind the defence to open up a passing chance from deep.

    It was a great tactical decision from Jose Pekerman, and it paid off big time for Colombia.

CF: Joel Campbell, CRI

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Joel Campbell scored a fantastic goal for Costa Rica to bring them back into the match against Uruguay, drilling in a low finish after controlling a bouncing cross.

    Quite apart from that, though, he was excellent with his movement and holdup play in an extremely difficult situation, up against two far stronger central defenders and very much isolated for the first hour of the game.

    His dribbling was positive and intelligent, and his long-range shooting posed problems for Fernando Muslera, while his assist for the third was well-timed and perfectly weighted.

     

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