World Cup 2014: Best XI of Day 19 with Paul Pogba, Andre Schurrle and More
Day 19 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals has been and gone, giving us another look at four nations fighting it out to reach the quarter-final stage in Brazil.
Germany and France will play each other in the last eight after each overcame African opposition in the round of 16.
France firstly saw off Nigeria with two late goals, and then Germany beat Algeria after extra time. Here is our XI of the day from the two games combined—feel free to leave your own selections below.
GK: Manuel Neuer, GER
Three of the four goalkeepers on show performed more than admirably, but Germany's Manuel Neuer just about takes the award.
He was a true sweeper keeper against Algeria, racing out of his box numerous times to head or kick clear from long through passes, while Germany's defence was exposed time after time. He made a couple of routine stops, too, and his distribution was excellent, particularly one long pass on the run to set Andre Schurrle racing toward goal.
DR: Mathieu Debuchy, FRA
France right-back Mathieu Debuchy was a big performer at both ends of the field, keeping things tight at the back and putting in challenges while also looking to support going forward when possible.
Early in the game, he supported from a deeper position, but as France started to exert more control on the match, he was able to dart forward into the channel more often.
DC: Rafik Halliche, ALG
Algeria's captain on the night, Rafik Halliche, was stupendous at the back, closing down Germany's attack and making a whole host of clearances throughout the game.
He was quick to step out of his back line and put in a challenge or intercept a pass to prevent attacks from truly gaining momentum, and his passing out of defence was also reliable.
He was substituted in extra time after getting injured, but he had already put forth a very impressive performance.
DC: Raphael Varane, FRA
Raphael Varane continued his impressive tournament with a steady display against Nigeria, bouncing back from one early error of judgement to look comfortable and capable throughout.
On the few occasions in the second half that the African side threatened to launch their own attacks, Varane's acceleration and reading of the game ensured that the French defence stayed watertight.
The youngster put on a good display and was the best central defender on the pitch in the earlier game.
DL: Faouzi Ghoulam, ALG
Faouzi Ghoulam was excellent in defence for Algeria, working hard and keeping a tight, compact shape to deny Germany space between full- and centre-backs and making sure the wide forwards had no room in which to manoeuvre.
It was in the opposite direction, though, where he had his biggest impacts on the game.
His crossing from the left flank, especially in the first half, was superb and almost put Algeria ahead on at least one occasion.
CM: Paul Pogba, FRA
After a fairly open first half, France dominated their match against Nigeria as the midfield completely took hold, forcing Nigeria back and maintaining possession high up the field.
Paul Pogba was instrumental in both the retention and the quick repossession of the ball, but most important of all were his ability and willingness to join up in and around the penalty box with the attacking phases of play.
His headed goal was well-taken and his dribbling and movement created problems for Nigeria throughout.
CM: Yohan Cabaye, FRA
The battle for the other midfield slot was between the other two France starters, with Yohan Cabaye just edging Blaise Matuidi on this occasion.
Playing in his usual controlling role, Cabaye was impressive in his distribution, his infrequent but effective surges forward through the middle of Nigeria's midfield and in making sure his team held a high line, pressing to win the ball in Nigeria's half and maintaining their second-half dominance.
Cabaye also hit the crossbar with a stunning strike from range.
RM: Mathieu Valbuena, FRA
France's most creative player on the park was forward Mathieu Valbuena, who roamed and roved from his right-sided starting role to double up with team-mates elsewhere on the pitch and look to exploit gaps in Nigeria's defence.
His set-piece delivery was not always spot-on, but in open play, few used the ball as intelligently or incisively as Valbuena was able to.
LM: Andre Schurrle, GER
Andre Schurrle didn't start the round-of-16 tie in the Germany team, but entered at half-time to help his side change the flow of the game and begin to exploit the gaps which existed between Algeria's goalkeeper and defensive line.
His pace and direct running gave a new option for the attacking midfielders to seek out, while he was quick to get shots away whenever possible.
Though he played 45 minutes less than everyone else, Schurrle had the most shots in the game, with one of his seven efforts finally breaching Rais M'Bolhi's goal.
CF: Thomas Mueller, GER
Thomas Mueller once more put in an effervescent and intelligent performance, showing great movement and determination to pull the Algeria defence all over the field.
He was unlucky not to get himself on the scoresheet after his off-the-ball running found him space several times in the penalty area, though his headers invariably were aimed straight at the keeper or off target.
Mueller was a big problem for Algeria to try to contain and his roaming often created space for others to exploit, too.
CF: Islam Slimani, ALG
At the opposite end of the field to Mueller, Islam Slimani led the Algeria front line with great enthusiasm, a well-practiced plan of attack and enough quality to really trouble the German defence.
He broke past the back line any number of times in the first half, with the attacks just falling short by way of an offside flag, a last-ditch clearance or a skewed finish.
Per Mertesacker in particular was having real problems containing Slimani, who worked as hard as anyone on the pitch and was thoroughly unlucky not to be rewarded with a goal come full-time.
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