World Cup 2014: Best XI of Day 6 with Ochoa, Hazard and Feghouli
All 32 teams at the 2014 World Cup have now seen action, and Brazil and Mexico kicked off the second set of matches on Tuesday in Fortaleza.
It was a true goalkeeper’s duel, with both Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa and Brazil’s Julio Cesar making highlight-reel saves.
In Belo Horizonte, Belgium came from a goal down to see off Algeria, and in the day’s other Group H encounter, both Russia and South Korea benefited from mistakes to earn a share of the points in Cuiaba.
There were standout performers in each contest, and over the next few slides, we’ll have a look at Day 6’s Best XI.
Goalkeeper: Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico
Guillermo Ochoa arrived at the World Cup unattached to any club and fighting for the No. 1 goalkeeping job with Mexico.
The former Ajaccio man was mostly untested in El Tri’s tournament opener against Cameroon on June 13, but on Tuesday, he delivered a career-defining performance to earn his side a scoreless draw with Brazil.
His saves on Neymar, Paulinho and Thiago Silva were especially spectacular as the CONCACAF outfit kept up with the hosts at the top of Group A.
Right-Back: Toby Alderweireld, Belgium
Toby Alderweireld grew into Belgium’s match against Algeria and ended up playing a meaningful part in the Red Devils’ 2-1 win.
The 25-year-old Atletico Madrid right-back touched the ball nearly 100 times as he moved forward opposite Faouzi Ghoulam, who, on another day, might have caused Belgium a few more problems.
Centre-Back: Daniel van Buyten, Belgium
Sticking with Belgium, Daniel van Buyten was exceptional against Algeria and typically kept himself in good positions against Islam Slimani, who was mostly a non-factor.
He also distributed the ball with 91-percent accuracy (all statistics courtesy of WhoScored) and tried his luck with a pair of shots in the attacking third.
Centre-Back: Madjid Bougherra, Algeria
At the other end of the pitch, Madjid Bougherra had a mostly impressive afternoon for Algeria.
The 31-year-old was strong and accurate in the tackle—throwing his body about but not committing a single foul.
Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku will have nightmares about Bougherra this week.
Left-Back: Dmitri Kombarov, Russia
Dmitri Kombarov’s job was made all the more difficult by the abysmal performance of Yuri Zhirkov just ahead of him.
But the Spartak Moscow left-back rose to the occasion and did well in an important matchup with Lee Yong.
The 27-year-old will look to carry the ball even more when Russia face Belgium on June 22.
Midfielder: Sofiane Feghouli, Algeria
There is no player more important to Algeria than Sofiane Feghouli.
The Fennec Foxes' No. 10 excelled in just his 20th international match on Tuesday—passing for a high rate of completion and contributing admirably on the defensive side of the ball.
He also opened the scoring when he converted his first-half penalty.
Midfielder: Hector Herrera, Mexico
It’s becoming rather apparent that Hector Herrera is Mexico’s key player in the centre of the park.
Against Brazil on Tuesday, the 24-year-old acquitted himself well against the World Cup hosts.
When not picking out teammates with accurate passes, the Porto midfielder was making good use of space—whether moving into position to receive a pass, or smartly closing down opponents without being overly physical.
Midfielder: Ki Sung-Yueng, South Korea
The lone South Korean on this list is Ki Sung-Yeung, who had a Man of the Match type of performance against Russia.
Ki, who plays his club football at Premier League outfit Swansea, touched the ball more often than anyone else in Cuiaba and showed a consistent willingness to run at opponents on the dribble.
Midfielder: Eden Hazard, Belgium
For Belgium to go far in this World Cup, Eden Hazard has to be at the top of his game.
And that’s exactly where Tuesday found him against Algeria, as he tortured Mehdi Mostefa and dribbled with such ease that it was like he had a string connecting the ball to his boot.
A standout performance was capped with an assist on Dries Mertens' emphatic winner in the 80th minute.
Striker: Dries Mertens, Belgium
Belgium manager Marc Wilmots made a trio of key substitutions against Algeria, and two of the players to be introduced during the match ended up finding the back of the net.
First, it was Marouane Fellaini, who headed Kevin De Bruyne’s cross into the goal for an equaliser, and then it was Dries Mertens’ turn.
Latching onto Eden Hazard’s pass, the 27-year-old released a vicious drive that left goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi with no chance whatsoever.
Striker: Alexander Kerzhakov, Russia
Fabio Capello raised a few eyebrows when he opted to start veteran striker Alexander Kerzhakov on the bench against South Korea.
But Russia's manager wasn’t too proud to introduce the 31-year-old with 19 minutes remaining in place of the terrible Yuri Zhirkov.
And he was repaid in bunches.
Just three minutes after coming on, Kerzhakov had slotted home an equaliser after goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong’s parry of Andrey Eschenko’s shot into his path.