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World Cup 2014: Player Power Rankings After Group-Stage Games

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 27, 2014

World Cup 2014: Player Power Rankings After Group-Stage Games

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    Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

    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?

75-51.

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    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

50-26.

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    Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

    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

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    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

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    Vinicius Costa/Getty Images

    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

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    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

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    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

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    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

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    Adam Pretty/Getty Images

    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

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    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

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    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

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    Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

    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

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    Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

    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

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    Adam Pretty/Getty Images

    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

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    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    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

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    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

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    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

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    Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

    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

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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    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

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    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

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    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

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    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

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    Buda Mendes/Getty Images

    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

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    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    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

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    Adam Pretty/Getty Images

    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

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    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

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    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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