World Cup 2014: Best XI of Day 10 with Omeruo, Messi and Klose
Day 10 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup featured spectacular goals, sturdy defending and exceptional goalkeeping.
In Belo Horizonte, Argentina needed a moment of magic to see off Iran, while Germany and Ghana played to an exhilarating 2-2 draw in Fortaleza.
In the day’s final match, Bosnia and Herzegovina went out of the World Cup after losing 1-0 to Nigeria in Cuiaba.
There were standout performers in each contest, and over the next few slides we’ll have a look at Day 10’s best XI.
Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero, Argentina
Argentina’s 1-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina will be remembered for Lionel Messi’s spectacular winner, but had Sergio Romero not provided some standout goalkeeping, the Barcelona forward’s goal might only have been an equaliser.
Despite not facing much action, Romero came up big when called upon and made an important save from an Ashkan Dejagah header to keep the scoreline level.
The 27-year-old has now stopped eight shots at this World Cup, per WhoScored.com.
Right-Back: Harrison Afful, Ghana
Harrison Afful was one of two new faces (Kevin-Prince Boateng was the other) to start for Ghana in Saturday’s match against Germany.
Replacing Daniel Opare, the 27-year-old Esperance right-back proved a handful for Germany’s Benedikt Howedes on the front foot and kept things tidy on the defensive side of the ball as well.
He’ll almost certainly start the Black Stars’ final Group G match against Portugal.
Centre-Back: Amir Hossein Sadeghi, Iran
If not for Amir Hossein Sadeghi, Iran might well have lost to Argentina by more than a single goal on Saturday.
Throughout the 90 minutes in Belo Horizonte, the 32-year-old was focussed and committed in his defensive duties, whether sticking to an opponent like glue or instinctively closing down space.
His work to contain Sergio Aguero was particularly impressive, and it’s rather telling that Lionel Messi’s eventual winner had to be struck from well outside Iran’s 18-yard box.
Sadeghi and his teammates simply gave no quarter in front of goal.
Centre-Back: Kenneth Omeruo, Nigeria
Kenneth Omeruo earned just his 20th cap for Nigeria on Saturday, but he played like a seasoned veteran against a desperate Bosnia and Herzegovina side.
The 20-year-old Chelsea defender kept as close to Edin Dzeko has humanly possible and also took away shooting space from Miralem Pjanic whenever the Roma midfielder ventured inside the Super Eagles’ 18-yard box.
In total, Omeruo contributed four important tackles, per WhoScored.com, and didn’t commit a single foul.
Left-Back: Marcos Rojo, Argentina
Marcos Rojo is looking to use the World Cup as a springboard to a big-money summer transfer, possibly to Barcelona.
“Obviously I’d love to play in Barcelona,” he admitted earlier in the week, per Inside Spanish Football's Jen Evelyn. "But we haven’t talked about it with Leo [Messi].”
On Saturday in Belo Horizonte, the 24-year-old Sporting Lisbon man played his best game of the World Cup to date, offering width as the Argentina midfield became increasingly narrow and direct.
Midfielder: Javier Mascherano, Argentina
Javier Mascherano earned his 100th Argentina cap on Saturday against Iran—a match in which he ran the midfield.
Over the course of the 90 minutes, the 30-year-old touched the ball more than 100 times, completed an impressive 92 percent of his passes and contributed six tackles without committing a single foul, per WhoScored.com.
His performance was all the more effective as he was able to revisit a successful partnership with Fernando Gago, who was benched last Sunday against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Midfielder: Fernando Gago, Argentina
Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella will have a hard time splitting up Fernando Gago and Javier Mascherano anytime soon.
The two complement each other extremely well, with Mascherano putting himself about in various positions and Gago finding teammates with well-placed passes.
Against Iran, the 28-year-old completed 92 percent of his passes and touched the ball more than anyone else on the pitch, per WhoScored.com.
Midfielder: Sulley Muntari, Ghana
Ghana will sorely miss Sulley Muntari when they face Portugal next week.
The combative midfielder picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in Saturday’s match against Germany, but by the time of the booking he had already assisted on an important goal for the Black Stars.
Intercepting Philipp Lahm’s misplaced pass, the 29-year-old sprung Asamoah Gyan, who raced in on goal before giving Ghana a 2-1 lead.
Forward: Asamoah Gyan, Ghana
Asamoah Gyan scored his fifth World Cup goal on Saturday—a tally that pulled him level with Africa’s highest-ever goalscorer at the competition: Cameroon’s Roger Milla.
But at the final whistle, the Ghana captain was only interested in discussing his team’s performance in a 2-2 draw with Germany.
"It was a great game and would like to congratulate the team. We believed in ourselves against a tough side," he told the BBC. "We saw the real Ghana today."
Forward: Lionel Messi, Argentina
It’s conceivable Lionel Messi could score in every match that Argentina play at this World Cup.
And that’s a scary possibility for the sides that La Albiceleste have yet to face.
Messi’s winner against Iran gave Argentina six points from two matches, and after Nigeria’s win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, the South Americans secured their spot in the round of 16, where they’ll likely face either Ecuador or Switzerland.
Forward: Miroslav Klose
Germany were trailing 2-1 to Ghana when Miroslav Klose was introduced.
Two minutes later the scoreline was level, and he had equalled Ronaldo’s all-time record of 15 World Cup goals. In scoring, Klose also joined Pele and Uwe Seeler as the only other players to have scored in four World Cups.