World Cup 2014: Best XI of Day 17 with James Rodriguez, Alexis Sanchez, More

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2014

World Cup 2014: Best XI of Day 17 with James Rodriguez, Alexis Sanchez, More

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    Day 17 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup saw the knockout stage finally kick into gear, with top billing given to four nations from the tournament's home continent.

    Brazil and Chile fought out a 1-1 draw, went to extra time and then penalties, with the hosts ultimately progressing after half the spot-kicks were missed. Colombia then saw off the challenge of Uruguay by a 2-0 scoreline, with attacking midfielder James Rodriguez central to their victory once more.

    Colombia and Brazil will now play each other in the quarter-finals, with BBC Sport's Chris Waddle among those expecting the hosts to face a tough test:

    I expect Colombia to play 4-5-1 against Brazil with James Rodriguez playing behind Jackson Martinez. They have got players who can change the game. They will cause problems on the break and there is no reason why they can't give Brazil a good game. But they can't sit back like they did towards the end against Uruguay.

    Here's our XI of the day—with Rodriguez, unsurprisingly, taking centre stage in a 3-5-2 variation.

GK: Claudio Bravo, Chile

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    Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has had a good all-round World Cup, and he put in another fine display against Brazil Saturday.

    He was dominant in the air, took the ball cleanly and quickly to relieve pressure on his defence and was always looking to distribute quickly in the first half. As the game went on and small mistakes could have proved ever more costly, he wisely went longer with his passing.

DC: Gary Medel, Chile

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    Gary Medel was inspirational once more for Chile, playing a roving centre-back role for them in the draw and subsequent penalty shoot-out defeat against Brazil.

    Aggressive, good in his reading of the game and quick to follow Neymar in particular and close him down, Medel set the tone for his side's defending and work rate and stepped into midfield during the game at opportune moments.

    Late in extra time, he had to be stretchered from the field after an injury.

DC: Thiago Silva, Brazil

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    Brazil captain Thiago Silva put in a very strong performance against Chile, arguably the best defensive performer the host nation has seen thus far.

    He was strong in the air and quick across the ground to cover the runs in behind the defensive line, making plenty of clearances from inside his own penalty box. He almost made amends for his team-mates' poor work on Chile's equaliser, but he had to gamble on a shot or a square pass by Alexis Sanchez.

    All told, he put in a great shift and even set up his team's goal with a good flick-on from a corner.

DC: Mario Yepes, Colombia

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    It was a close call between Mario Yepes and team-mate Cristian Zapata for the final slot, but Yepes just about edges it after an imperious final 10 minutes against Uruguay.

    Yepes was quick and aggressive to step out of the defensive line and make challenges, while Zapata covered behind to make clearances and interceptions aplenty.

    Late on, Yepes was strong in the air and marked the likes of Edinson Cavani extremely close to see out the game and ensure a clean sheet.

MR: Juan Cuadrado, Colombia

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    Juan Cuadrado played from the middle and from either side during the match against Uruguay, but we'll go with him in his usual right-sided role.

    He was the big early threat for his team, dribbling at the opposition with menace, with his influence on the game measured by the amount of times Uruguay quickly targeted him for tackles and fouls in the opening stages.

    His pace and movement was always a big positive for Colombia, and his header down for the second goal showed great awareness, too.

CM: Luiz Gustavo, Brazil

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    Luiz Gustavo surprised Chile early on with a number of surging runs forward from his holding midfield role, rather than merely patrolling the lines between defence and attacking midfield.

    He was largely intelligent with his ball use when the game was open and flowing, looking to be positive whenever possible and seeing plenty of the ball in midfield.

    Naturally, in such an open contest, he put in plenty of big challenges in the middle too, breaking up Chile's play and looking to stop them counter-attacking at pace.

CM: Charles Aranguiz, Chile

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    Most people would probably vote Charles Aranguiz onto the team of the day purely on account of his spectacular penalty in the shoot-out.

    However, he also put in a phenomenal performance during the 120 minutes of play. Aranguiz showed his all-action style to its greatest extent, getting through a tremendous amount of work at both ends and really being one of those pushing most for a winner late in the game.

    Aranguiz perfectly encapsulates Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli's emphasis and ideas in the game. He was perhaps Chile's second-best player throughout their time in the World Cup.

CM: Marcelo Diaz, Chile

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    If Charles Aranguiz was second, then Marcelo Diaz wasn't far behind.

    The controlling central midfielder balances defensive work rate with excellent on-ball technique, always looking to receive the ball off his defenders and set his side into build-up phases of play.

    In pressing and harassing the opposition, Aranguiz and Diaz made an excellent pairing once again for Chile and pushed Brazil all the way.

ML: Eugenio Mena, Chile

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    On the left, Chile's left wing-back Eugenio Mena got through an extraordinary amount of work once again, racing up and down the touchline to provide overlapping support going forward and keeping Brazil forward Hulk quiet for most of the initial 90 minutes.

    Later in the game, as he moved into a more compact back four, he was strong defensively and made his share of tackles, though he wasn't able to get forward as much to join counter-attacks.

AM: James Rodriguez, Colombia

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    Colombia's man of the tournament, James Rodriguez, helped to make World Cup history by firing his nation to the quarter-final stage for the first time ever.

    His excellent brace against Uruguay included the goal of the tournament so far, a stunning volley on the turn, while good movement and awareness brought his second from close range.

    A vital part of the side in build-up play and showing good work ethic off the ball, too, Rodriguez received a huge ovation from the entire stadium—save the Uruguay fans—when he was substituted with just a few minutes left on the clock.

FW: Alexis Sanchez, Chile

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    Having shown off amazing work rate, great attacking instincts and unusually large amounts of upper thigh during the World Cup, it is lamentable that Alexis Sanchez's last contribution to the tournament was a missed penalty kick during the shoot-out.

    His wasn't the telling one, with Brazil missing another after his, but it certainly could have made a difference.

    Even so, his 120-minute display was indefatigable, full of defensive running to help his side win back the ball, great acceleration to lead the counter-charges after turnovers in possession and, of course, his well-taken equalising goal.

    Chile are out, though, and Sanchez will be one of those players missed most as a result.