World Cup 2014: Player Power Rankings After Group-Stage Games
Welcome to the first edition of our FIFA World Cup 2014 player power rankings, where we order the top 75 players in accordance with their form and performances so far.
There were no easy decisions, there's barely any wiggle room between the top five and crowning a leader was particularly difficult. Chile, Netherlands, Germany, France, Colombia and Mexico are understandably well-represented.
Who joins the likes of Robin van Persie, Lionel Messi and Neymar at the summit?
75. Angel Di Maria Argentina
74. Yeltsin Tejeda Costa Rica
73. Mathieu Debuchy France
72. Claudio Bravo Chile
71. Andres Iniesta Spain
70. Raphael Varane France
69. Emmanuel Emenike Nigeria
68. Andres Guardado Mexico
67. Eduardo Vargas Chile
66. Miralem Pjanic BIH
65. Teofilo Gutierrez Colombia
64. Muhamed Besic BIH
63. Tim Cahill Autralia
62. Mauricio Isla Chile
61. Mesut Ozil Germany
60. Diego Godin Uruguay
59. Clint Dempsey USA
58. Mamadou Sakho France
57. Giovani dos Santos Mexico
56. Mats Hummels Germany
55. Axel Witsel Belgium
54. Ivica Olic Croatia
53. Kyle Beckerman USA
52. Hugo Lloris France
51. Giancarlo Gonzalez Costa Rica
50. Nigel De Jong Netherlands
49. Paul Aguilar Mexico
48. Marcos Rojo Argentina
47. Antoine Griezmann France
46. Bryan Ruiz Costa Rica
45. Gervinho Ivory Coast
44. Mario Goetze Germany
43. Gary Medel Chile
42. Enner Valencia Ecuador
41. Ron Vlaar Netherlands
40. Ivan Perisic Croatia
39. Manuel Neuer Germany
38. Mehrdad Pooladi Iran
37. Keylor Navas Costa Rica
36. Serge Aurier Ivory Coast
35. Thiago Silva Brazil
34. Tim Howard USA
33. Miguel Layun Mexico
32. Cristian Gamboa Costa Rica
31. Raheem Sterling England
30. Arturo Vidal Chile
29. Xherdan Shaqiri Switzerland
28. Marcelo Diaz Chile
27. Mario Yepes Colombia
26. Alexis Sanchez Chile
25. Carlos Sanchez, Colombia
Carlos Sanchez is a big, burly, powerful defensive midfielder who does a fantastic job screening Colombia's back four.
Los Cafeteros are inherently difficult to attack—even counterattacks are difficult given their tendency to leave six back and clog the middle—and Sanchez is a leader in the middle.
He can be a little dirty if necessary, but usually uses his size and range well.
24. Daley Blind, Netherlands
Daley Blind, once the laughing stock of Ajax as he fumbled around the pitch, is now the Netherland's undisputed starter in defence no matter the position.
He excelled as a wing-back against Spain and Australia, then slotted into at centre-back alongside Ron Vlaar for the final game and kept a clean sheet vs. Chile.
23. Junior Diaz, Costa Rica
Junior Diaz, Costa Rica's star left-wing-back, has dealt with some monstrous right-wingers over the course of three games and still come out the winner of the duel.
The Mainz 05 man, barely heard of throughout Europe before the tournament began, combines defensive solidity, aggression and energy to provide the perfect outlet on the flank.
22. Andranik Teymourian, Iran
Andranik Teymourian was Iran's best player at the finals, playing a disciplined and important role in Carlos Queiroz's holding midfield.
It was supposed to be all about Javad Nekounam, the traditional star player, but he shied away under the spotlight and allowed his colleague to grasp the mantle.
Teymourian blocked everything; the No. 14 shirt did not know when to get out of the way.
21. Joel Campbell, Costa Rica
So Arsenal need a striker, huh?
There's a kid on their books right now with a work permit who seems worth a punt, and he goes by the name of Joel Campbell.
The 22-year-old has led the line for Costa Rica superbly, dipping into space, working the lines and out-muscling defenders for three games straight.
20. Mathieu Valbuena, France
Mathieu Valbuena may have had a slightly iffy season with Marseille, but he's put all that behind him and looks on top form for France.
He plays off the right but dips inside to find space, manipulating defenders and coaxing them out of position. Mathieu Debuchy is then able to steam into the gaps created and cross, while Karim Benzema also takes advantage from the other side.
Valbuena is as clever as they come.
19. Eden Hazard, Belgium
Belgium have been stodgy and laboured in attack, but Eden Hazard came up with two moments of brilliance to ensure his side won their opening two games.
His influence has been marginalised by the careful system manager Marc Wilmots has produced, but in space he finds a way to impact the game in the final third.
He's just getting started.
18. Luiz Gustavo, Brazil
Luiz Gustavo has put together an excellent three games in Brazil's midfield, with his accomplishments even more impressive when you factor in just how poorly his team-mate Paulinho is playing.
He does the job may don't notice: patrolling the midfield and sweeping up any mess that threatens to derail his trusty back four.
His athleticism has been on show during the tournament too, pressing high, creating turnovers and feeding his attackers in more advanced areas.
17. Fabian Johnson, USA
Fabian Johnson has been the USA's most potent offensive weapon since Jozy Altidore went down clutching his hamstring, steaming forward from right-back and causing chaos to defensive structures.
Ghana couldn't harness him, Portugal made it easy for him to run all over them and Germany did a lot of groundwork to ensure he was as limited as possible.
And, he's not even playing on his natural side.
16. Blaise Matuidi, France
Blaise Matuidi was one of few French players not rested against Ecuador with qualification virtually assured, outlining just how valuable manager Didier Deschamps believes he is.
His vertical running and aggressive style allows France to make ground easily in the final third and begin overloading areas of his choosing. He plays a similar role for Paris Saint-Germain and excels there, too.
15. Oscar, Brazil
Oscar was Brazil's star man on the opening night against Croatia, playing a slightly unfamiliar right-sided role but stretching the pitch, committing to tackles and scoring a goal all the same.
His combativeness and ability to drag markers away from Neymar is best suited to the centre, and Luiz Felipe Scolari finally appeared to get his formula right in the second half against Cameroon.
Fernandinho surging beyond Oscar centrally, with Neymar left. That's the dream.
14. Kenneth Omeruo, Nigeria
Kenneth Omeruo, fresh off a wonderful loan season with Middlesbrough in the Championship, had the eyes of millions of Chelsea fans descend upon him during the group stages to see what he could do.
He's Mamadou Sakho-esque; resembling the French defender with his bullish approach. He steps out well, intercepts confidently and never misjudges the flight of the ball.
Omeruo needs top-flight football next season no matter the club.
13. Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico
Guillermo Ochoa must be counting the imaginary Euros in his head when he goes to sleep at night, as when this FIFA World Cup finishes he'll be fielding offers from every continent bar none.
The free-agent goalkeeper caught the attention of the world against Brazil, making a series of stunning saves to deny Neymar and Co. taking the lead.
His athleticism, reflexes and springiness are astounding.
12. Thomas Mueller, Germany
Thomas Mueller's four goals in the group stages—including a hat-trick against Portugal in the opener—has moved him onto nine total goals in World Cup finals despite being just 24 years of age.
He's playing as Germany's primary No. 9 ahead of Miroslav Klose and responding to the pressure superbly. He's on course to retain the FIFA Golden Boot.
11. Rafael Marquez, Mexico
Rafael Marquez might be nearing the twilight of his career, but he's still the most influential player on this Mexico side now gunning for surprise glory.
His towering header against Croatia set El Tri on their way to the knockout stages at the expense of Niko Kovac's men, and his defensive contributions—plus his willingness to dribble out—has been key to the successes they've enjoyed.
10. Juan Cuadrado, Colombia
It took just five minutes for Juan Cuadrado to break down Greece's stubborn defensive structures, turning left-back Jose Holebas inside-out before crossing for Pablo Armero to finish.
He used that as a springboard, moving from strength to strength over the next two games and scoring a penalty in Colombia's beating of Japan.
There are few others you'd rather have spearheading your counterattacks.
9. Jose Juan Vazquez, Mexico
Jose Juan Vazquez is one of the lesser-known names in the Mexico starting XI, but we guarantee teams will have sat up and taken notice of this little tyke thanks to three outstanding showings.
At first it was easy for him, bringing the ball out from deep in midfield against a Cameroon side who didn't challenge him, but as sides started to pressurise him he got better and better.
His absence (suspension) in the round of 16 is a big blow for Miguel Herrera.
8. Charles Aranguiz, Chile
Udinese made a very smart move in signing Charles Aranguiz right before the FIFA World Cup started.
He's energetic, talented and extremely tactically aware, making him a dream fit for Jorge Sampaoli's Chilean system. He shines no matter where he plays, impacting the game at both ends of the pitch.
The Zebrette probably won't own the rights to him for long.
7. Jermaine Jones, USA
Jermaine Jones has been the USA's best player at the FIFA World Cup, protecting his defensive line and, more specifically, DaMarcus Beasley against potent attacking threats.
He scored a goal to equalise against Portugal in his second game, played out of position against Ghana in the first and worked his socks off against Germany in the final fixture.
6. Robin Van Persie, Netherlands
Robin van Persie netted twice against Spain in the Netherlands' opening game then bagged a third goal in the come-back victory over Australia.
He was suspended for the third group stage match but with qualification already assured, Dutch boss Louis van Gaal had no qualms keeping him benched and fresh for the round of 16 match vs. Mexico.
5. Neymar, Brazil
With Fred underwhelming up front for Brazil, Neymar has been carrying his nation's goalscoring torch almost single-handedly so far.
His brace in the opener against Croatia was followed by another brace against Cameroon in the final group game, giving him an early lead in the charts with four.
When played on the left he's been electric; when played in the centre, not so.
4. Lionel Messi, Argentina
Lionel Messi is currently carrying Argentina through the FIFA World Cup.
His teammates have either sustained injuries or failed to find form, with Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain in particular underwhelming in the group stage.
They've left it all up to the Barcelona man and he's responded with four goals. He'll need at least four more if his side are to lift the trophy.
3. Karim Benzema, France
Dider Deschamps was smart enough to realise Karim Benzema is the best player on his team sans the injured Franck Ribery, and as such has built his side around freeing up the striker.
The 4-3-3 system is similar to the one Real Madrid use, with Benzema dropping deep as a centre-forward and linking with a) two wingers who come inside and occupy space and b) a channel-running central midfielder in Blaise Matuidi (similar to Argentina's Angel Di Maria in his movement).
If it hadn't been for the missed penalty kick against Switzerland, Benzema might be top of our rankings.
2. Arjen Robben, Netherlands
Arjen Robben has had a magnificent tournament up front for the Netherlands.
He's embraced the 3-5-2 formation that Louis van Gaal designed to beat Spain and prospered, utilising the system to accentuate his remarkable strengths: raw speed, composure, finishing and dribbling.
With three goals and one assist to his name, he's gunning for individual and team glory for the Oranje.
1. James Rodriguez, Colombia
James Rodriguez has been spectacularly good in his first three games.
We knew he was good—hell, we knew he was great—but there have been so few flaws in anything he's done in a Colombia shirt so far it's astounding.
Playing back in his favoured No. 10 role he's pulled the strings and destroyed three teams almost single-handedly.
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