Tracking Milan Player Performance in World Cup Knockout Stage

Matteo BonettiContributor IJune 29, 2014

Italy's Riccardo Montolivo looks on during a line-up before the start of their international friendly soccer match against Republic of Ireland at Craven Cottage, London, Saturday, May 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Sang Tan/Associated Press

Note: This article will be updated after games featuring Milan players

Milan players have been hit-or-miss at the World Cup, with only a few of them being able to get out of the group stage with their respective nations.

Captain Riccardo Montolivo had the misfortune of breaking his tibia in Italy's friendly against Ireland, and he was left out of Cesare Prandelli's 23-man team.

Montolivo was hoping to be a fringe-starter on the national side, and his exclusion was an unlucky one.

The Rossoneri players who made it on the Azzurri weren't too successful.

Mattia De Sciglio had a nagging injury and was forced to miss Italy's opening two matches in the group stage, only starting once in their final game against Uruguay, where he played as a left-sided wing-back in a rather unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation.

Mario Balotelli was given the keys to Milan's front line, but he was largely anonymous other than scoring a header against England.

Along with others, his performance was thoroughly disappointing in the most important match against Uruguay, where a draw or a win would have sealed qualification to the next round.

Balotelli failed to influence the World Cup the way he wanted
Balotelli failed to influence the World Cup the way he wantedMatthias Hangst/Getty Images

Even though Balotelli has been unfairly portrayed as the nation's scapegoat, he failed to impact the result in the most important moment, and he was taken out shortly after halftime in the Uruguay match by an annoyed Cesare Prandelli.

Super Mario's future with Milan is still unclear, as there's been a negative cloud swirling over his tenure this calendar year.

Keisuke Honda's fortunes with Japan were hit-or-miss, much like his spell with Milan since joining over the January transfer window from Russian side CSKA Moscow.

Other than the beautiful goal scored against the Ivory Coast, the playmaker was quelled along with his teammates as Japan failed to get out of the group.

The Ghanaian duo of Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien also didn't perform up to expectations. Muntari was even shunned by the team after an argument with the coaching staff. He was sent home before Ghana's last group match against Portugal, one they ended up losing.

Dutch defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong and Colombian defender Cristian Zapata are the only two Rossoneri players who have had a positive World Cup.

De Jong celebrates victory with Holland
De Jong celebrates victory with HollandClive Rose/Getty Images

Zapata lunger for a ball with Colombia
Zapata lunger for a ball with ColombiaMatthias Hangst/Getty Images

De Jong has been a focal point in the Netherlands' destruction of their group, decimating Spain and picking up nine points from their first three matches. Nigel's defensive ability as well as his penchant for picking out the easy pass has made him a staple in Holland's midfield.

Meanwhile, Zapata has formed a fantastic defensive partnership with former Milan teammate Mario Yepes.

The two have sealed off Colombia's defense and help them get through the first knockout match against Uruguay, where Los Cafeteros picked up yet another clean sheet.