Best XI of Serie A Players at the 2014 World Cup
With the host nation humiliated and Germany crowned champions for the first time since 1990, the latest edition of the World Cup is already consigned to history. It has delivered some truly iconic moments, with players from across the globe making a name for themselves on football’s grandest stage.
As stars such as James Rodriguez of Colombia and Germany’s Mario Gotze grab the headlines for their telling goals, Italy once again flopped. Just as they had in South Africa four years ago, the Azzurri failed to emerge from the group stage, their struggles among the worst performances the nation has ever witnessed.
Yet it is far from a damning indictment for Serie A as a whole, with a number of those who play on the peninsula emerging from the tournament with huge credit. On the following pages is a best XI of the World Cup, lining up in a 4-3-3 formation and comprised solely of players from Italy’s domestic league.
All statistics are via WhoScored.com unless otherwise stated.
GK: Sergio Romero (Argentina, Sampdoria)
There were some hugely impressive goalkeeping displays witnessed during the course of the World Cup, with many No. 1's turning in some of the tournament's best displays. Italy’s own Gigi Buffon made some excellent saves of his own, but Sergio Romero of Argentina wears the gloves here.
While the 27-year-old spent 2013-14 on loan at AS Monaco, he is actually a Sampdoria player and has made 61 appearances for the Genoa-based side. In Brazil he was ever-present as he helped the Albiceleste finish as runners-up to Germany in Sunday’s final.
Recording four clean sheets in seven games, Romero was the hero of the semi-final, saving penalties from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder in his side’s shootout victory. The former AZ Alkmaar stopper was named on the three-man shortlist for FIFA's Golden Glove award for the tournament's best goalkeeper, per BBC Sport.
RB: Matteo Darmian (Italy, Torino)
Italy’s best player at the tournament, Torino’s Matteo Darmian catapulted to the world’s attention with a stellar display against England. Teaming up with Antonio Candreva, the Azzurri full-back terrorised Leighton Baines on the flank, forcing the Everton man into a stream of errors.
The 24-year-old played all three Group D matches, averaging 1.7 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game according to stats site WhoScored.com.
CB: Cristian Zapata (Colombia, Milan)
Considered something of a flop at Milan, Cristian Zapata enjoyed an excellent World Cup, his play helping Colombia reach the quarter-final stage. Losing 2-1 to Brazil, Jose Pekerman’s side won many admirers for their excellent performances during the competition.
Zapata was vital to that, making four appearances in which WhoScored shows he averaged 2.0 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and four clearances per game.
CB: Mario Yepes (Colombia, Atalanta)
As good as Zapata was, he was surpassed by his team-mate and captain Mario Yepes, the 38-year-old showing no sign of age reducing his effectiveness. His WhoScored averages of 3.8 tackles, 2.3 interceptions and 5.3 clearances per game arguably made him Serie A’s finest defender at the tournament.
LB: Martin Caceres (Uruguay, Juventus)
Luis Suarez’s bite on Giorgio Chiellini may have been the major talking point in Group D, but Juve’s Martin Caceres also outshone his club team-mates in the Italy squad. He played both full-back roles and in central defence during the competition, never once looking out of position and consistently harassed opposing attackers.
CM: Gokhan Inler (Switzerland, Napoli)
Amid some of the more eye-catching performances of the World Cup, the contribution of Napoli’s Gokhan Inler may have gone largely unnoticed. The midfielder provided excellent protection for the Swiss defence, also helping to launch some excellent attacks.
CM: Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia, Roma)
While Bosnia-Herzegovina struggled in their first major tournament, the performances of Miralem Pjanic were incredible to witness. The nation only played its first recognised match in 1995, and won just once at this World Cup, but the Roma midfielder was excellent throughout.
WhoScored shows that only two players bettered his average of four key passes per game, while his averages of 1.7 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game highlight just how hard he worked for the cause.
CM: Kwadwo Asamoah (Ghana, Juventus)
Like Pjanic and Bosnia, Kwadwo Asamoah was central to everything positive about Ghana’s play in Group G. They may have failed to win a game, but the versatile Juventus man once was once again in excellent form for his national side.
RW: Juan Cuadrado (Colombia, Fiorentina)
If the players so far were important more for substance than style, Colombia's Juan Cuadrado brought vast quantities of both to his nation's play. He may not have been as influential as James Rodriguez, but the Fiorentina star shone brightly in almost every game.
No player at the tournament bettered his tally of four assists, his creativity and pace key to undoing many opposition defences.
S: Miroslav Klose (Germany, Lazio)
There were a number of better strikers at the World Cup, and many of his younger Germany team-mates played better, but Miroslav Klose deserves recognition for a historic achievement. His two goals in Brazil took his tally in finals to 16, eclipsing Ronaldo as the player with the most career goals, per Guardian Sport.
Already his nation’s leading goalscorer, the Lazio striker is also the only man to net in four different World Cup competitions according to the BBC website.
LW: Gervinho (Ivory Coast, Roma)
As he had all season for Roma, Gervinho was once again a constant threat on the wing for Ivory Coast, recording two goals and an assist in his three appearances. His play was excellent throughout, and his match-winning strike against Japan was undoubtedly one of the best of the tournament.