2014 FIFA World Cup: Power Ranking Top 100 Players

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJuly 15, 2014

2014 FIFA World Cup: Power Ranking Top 100 Players

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    Welcome to Bleacher Report's closing FIFA World Cup argument: A final run-down of the top 100 players to have graced sport's most honourable stage.

    We've been running round-by-round power rankings to chart the rise and fall of our performers after every game, but this final set will rank the top 100 based on their overall showing in the competition.

    The scores are collated by grading each player out of 10 for every game they play, though it's worth noting a heavier weighting is given to the latter rounds and therefore players who made it further are ranked higher.

    A reward for sticking around, you could call it.

    With thanks to Sam Rooke, Karl Matchett, Eduardo Mendez and Chris Atkins for the assistance in compiling the rankings.

Honourable Mentions

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    These 10 players just missed the cut:

    110. Diego Godin Uruguay

    109. Emmanuel Emenike Nigeria

    108. Matt Besler USA

    107. Yacine Brahimi Algeria

    106. Amir Sadeghi Iran

    105. Ivica Olic Croatia

    104. Luiz Gustavo Brazil

    103. Cristian Zapata Colombia

    102. Georgios Samaras Greece

    101. Jefferson Montero Ecuador

100. Divock Origi, Belgium

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    Kicking us off is Divock Origi, a real surprise package who came in to save Belgium's bacon on a number of occasions.

    That Marc Wilmots so readily trusted him from the off in lieu of a good Romelu Lukaku performance speaks volumes for the 19-year-old's work-rate and talent.

    Best moment: His first World Cup goal, against Russia.

99. Paul Pogba, France

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    Paul Pogba disappointed at this FIFA World Cup, as while it was plainly obvious his overwhelming talents were on show, he failed to have the definitive impact expected.

    His goal against Nigeria in the round of 16 falsely boosts his stock for the tournament; he should have been a lot more like midfield colleague Blaise Matuidi from the off.

    Best moment: Slaloming through the Ecuador midfield at ease.

98. Eduardo Vargas, Chile

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    In a tournament where Chile really stole the limelight for a few weeks, Eduardo Vargas failed to imprint as heavily as his colleagues.

    He could be a near-clone of Alexis Sanchez operating from the other side but he's in the very early stages of his development despite being 24 years old. Good coaching and a stable domestic environment is direly needed here.

    Best moment: Scoring the opener in a win against Spain? Not bad.

97. Giannis Maniatis, Greece

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    Giannis Maniatis impressed greatly for Olympiakos ahead of the FIFA World Cup and successfully translated his club form onto the national stage.

    He's a warrior in defensive midfield and acquitted himself very well in a tough group.

    Best moment: Willfully protecting his back four against Japan despite Kostas Katsouranis' sending off.

96. Muhamed Besic, Bosnia-Herzegovina

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    In Muhamed Besic, one lucky club is going to find an absolute steal—so long as they can contain the behaviour of the Bosnia-Herzegovina midfield terrier.

    He was removed from his old club, Hamburg, for disciplinary reasons, but at 21 he stands an intriguing and multi-talented prospect ripe for coaching.

    Best moment: His all-action performance against Iran was a great watch.

95. Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Greece

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    Sokratis Papastathopoulos was Greece's rock at the back, as expected, and he scored his first goal in national colours at this FIFA World Cup.

    He was everything his time at Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund told us he'd be: cool, calm, collected and stubborn in the face of attacks.

    Best moment: Taking Greece into extra time against Costa Rica with a scrappy last-minute strike.

94. Jan Vertonghen, Belgium

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    Jan Vertonghen plays out of position at left-back for Belgium as, for one reason or another, the European nation failed to produce any players that play naturally in the full-back area.

    He got off to a slow start, looking poor defensively and failing to support Eden Hazard in the attack, but he grew into the tournament and even managed to bag a goal against South Korea.

    Best moment: Slotting home in the final group game on the run.

93. Abel Aguilar, Colombia

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    Abel Aguilar's absence in the quarter-final was sorely felt, as Brazil ghosted through Colombia's midfield far more easily than usual.

    Fredy Guarin did nothing to protect Colombia's evidently suspect back line and failed to execute the first pre-requisite of Jose Pekerman's system: Make los Cafeteros impossible to counter-attack.

    Best moment: At his imperious best against Greece.

92. Serge Aurier, Ivory Coast

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    Arsenal fans watching Serge Aurier kill it for the Ivory Coast this World Cup sat praying Arsene Wenger would make him their next right-back for the decade to come.

    He surges forward superbly, attacks his markers and swings in great crosses. He was, essentially, the Elephants' only form of creativity despite boasting a wonderful side on paper.

    Best moment: Two assists against Japan.

91. Paul Aguilar, Mexico

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    Paul Aguilar played well from right-wing-back for Mexico this summer but was a little overshadowed by the man on the opposite flank. 

    He's not flashy and not as quick as you'd like, but he picks his moments well and attacks opposing full-backs with venom.

    Best moment: Working in tandem with Miguel Layun to crucify Cameroon on the flanks.

90. Kostas Manolas, Greece

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    Looking for a potentially cheap, yet experienced, rock-solid defender? Check in on Kostas Manolas, a 23-year-old centre-back who outshone Sokratis Papastathopoulos in Brazil this past month.

    The Olympiakos man defends excellently but remains limited with the ball at his feet—a fact that will never change so long as he plays for the "underdog" on the European stage.

    Best moment: Resolute against Japan despite having a colleague sent off.

89. Camilo Zuniga, Colombia

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    If it weren't for Camilo Zuniga's seemingly endless pursuit of zero end product he'd probably be higher on our list, but the very fact he played at the FIFA World Cup after sustaining a near-season-long injury is good enough for now.

    He's a positive presence for Colombia on the right and gets forward well to aid Juan Cuadrado. Brazilians don't like him, though, and you shouldn't ask why.

    Best moment: He rinsed Greece's left in the opener.

88. Eugenio Mena, Chile

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    Eugenio Mena's improvements thanks to Jorge Sampaoli have been pleasing to see, and now he looks just as capable as Mauricio Isla from the left side of Chile's formation.

    He's all-action, happy to defend, capable on the ball and likes to push on when the flow of the game allows. He doesn't have the connection with Eduardo Vargas he'd ideally like, but it'll come as the two continue to grow.

    Best moment: His best game, like many of Chile's players, came against Spain. As a team they were perfect.

87. Sofiane Feghouli, Algeria

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    Sofiane Feghouli was one of the few Algeria players to retain a constant and regular role in Vahid Halilhodzic's XI, as the chopping and changing of formation ruled out all but the most key and versatile.

    He offered work-rate, penetration, retention of possession and creativity from the right-hand side no matter the shape, and he was a great out-ball for the Desert Foxes to use.

    Best moment: Scoring Algeria's first of the World Cup from the penalty spot.

86. Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria

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    Vincent Enyeama didn't quite hit the heights of 2010 or of his magnificent 2013-14 season with Lille, but his performances were still formidable in the Nigeria goal.

    He made a rare error for Lionel Messi's second goal when the Super Eagles played Argentina in the group stage, but he made up for it with a series of excellent saves afterward.

    Best moment: His performance against Bosnia-Herzegovina was rather good.

85. Kyle Beckerman, USA

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    On the BBC's live coverage of USA vs. Ghana, Thierry Henry picked out Kyle Beckerman as one to watch while previewing the game.

    His pick, it turns out, was tremendous, as Beckerman shone in all three games before being questionably dropped for the match against Belgium in the round of 16.

    A real midfield terrier with bite and zest.

    Best moment: A dominant showing against Ghana.

84. Enner Valencia, Ecuador

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    Enner Valencia used the FIFA World Cup to launch himself into the Premier League's consciousness, with Joe Bernstein of the Daily Mail now believing he's set for a £12 million move to West Ham. 

    He's played largely on the wing for Pachuca but got thrust into a second-striker role for Ecuador ahead of the World Cup, charged with replacing the goals Christian Benitez once brought to the team.

    Best moment: His first goal against Switzerland—what a header!

83. Mehrdad Pooladi, Iran

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    Mehrdad Pooladi's great performance at the FIFA World Cup is one of those unexpectedly special stories, as he looked a doubt to even make the squad at one point.

    He's also a converted central midfielder, but he has recently made a new home at left-back and played particularly well in the opener.

    Best moment: Acing the first game against Nigeria.

82. Carlos Sanchez, Colombia

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    Carlos Sanchez fluffed his lines—badly—against Brazil in the quarter-final, but if that's the lasting impression of him for this tournament then it's a harsh one.

    He stands a dominant defensive midfielder and key to the layer of protection ahead of Colombia’s defensive line. It's difficult to counter-attack Los Cafeteros because of Sanchez's size, physique and remarkable range when tackling.

    Firm but fair.

    Best moment: All of his skills and talents were on display against Greece in the opener.

81. Angel Di Maria, Argentina

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    Angel Di Maria tried and tried but it just didn't happen for him, with only an incisive Lionel Messi pass allowing him to get clear enough to finish against Switzerland in the round of 16.

    His work-rate was fantastic throughout and he ran the channels well, but his usual golden touch deserted him and he frequently lost the ball.

    Best moment: The 117th-minute winner against Switzerland.

80. Mamadou Sakho, France

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    Many Arsenal fans were in uproar about the fact Laurent Koscielny didn't start for France under Didier Deschamps, but Mamadou Sakho proved his managers' faith is well-placed time and again.

    As the aggressor in the partnership between he and Raphael Varane, he was dominant in the air and stepped out superbly to time challenges higher up.

    Best moment: His best game was his first against Honduras.

79. Pablo Armero, Colombia

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    Pablo Armero fell into just the right system to accentuate his strengths and mask his weaknesses, with Colombia excelling in transition football and this particular left-back boasting blistering pace.

    With two defensive midfielders ahead he was covered defensively for forays forward, and the fact he scored his nation's opener really boosted his confidence.

    Best moment: Left-back goals at World Cups are rare. He'll never forget scuffing home against Greece.

78. Fabian Johnson, USA

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    Fabian Johnson enjoyed an incredible tournament, despite playing on the wrong side, bursting forward from right-back and looking like the USA's most potent attacking weapon.

    Now DeAndre Yedlin has exploded onto the scene it will be interesting to see if Jurgen Klinsmann pairs them up. A reckless, but lightning-fast combination in waiting.

    Why so low? He showed his talents in spurts and patches, not in a consistent manner.

    Best moment: Mauling Portugal's left-hand side.

77. Axel Witsel, Belgium

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    We didn't see Axel Witsel's best football at the FIFA World Cup—far from it—but it was enough to confirm he's essentially a more graceful version of Colombia's Carlos Sanchez.

    He has great size, strength, bulk and range, capable of spanning the width of the pitch and clamping a midfield on his own. In Belgium's odd hybrid 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 he has a complex job but fulfills it superbly.

    Best moment: He was at his imperious best against Algeria's counter-attacks.

76. Miralem Pjanic, Bosnia-Herzegovina

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    Miralem Pjanic was Bosnia-Herzegovina's best performer, controlling the midfield in two out of three games played and notching one goal and one assist.

    He and Muhamed Besic combined superbly whatever the formation, he traveled with the ball well and served up plenty of attacking passes to Edin Dzeko.

    Best moment: Man of the Match performance against Iran.

75. Eden Hazard, Belgium

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    Where Eden Hazard stands is tough to gauge, as on the one hand he won two games single-handedly, but on the other hand he was essentially absent for large chunks of games—including the entire quarter-final.

    The general consensus is that Hazard failed, Marc Wilmots failed and, as a result, Belgium underperformed. 

    Best moment: Running riot late on against Russia.

74. Ricardo Rodriguez, Switzerland

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    Ricardo Rodriguez came into the tournament with unrealistically high expectations, largely because of his remarkable WhoScored.com rating, goal return and assist rate from last season.

    He played spectacularly well against Argentina, quite well against Honduras but underwhelmed in his other two games, painting the accurate picture of a talented, yet also very young, defender.

    Best moment: Shutting off the left flank entirely against La Albiceleste.

73. Yeltsin Tejeda, Costa Rica

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    Yeltsin Tejeda is an aggressive, snappy, combative central midfielder who shows enough bite and thirst for the ball to guarantee a spot in the Costa Rica XI.

    He's decent enough on the ball but his role is limited when it comes to distribution, proving his worth in winding up opponents and trying to control the central zones by force.

    Best moment: His 70 minutes against Italy were crucial to the victory.

72. Andres Guardado, Mexico

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    Andres Guardado put in a very solid shift from left-central midfield for Mexico this summer, with his set pieces in particular catching the eye.

    He started a little slow but grew into the tournament as his team did, accelerating between the lines brilliantly and carrying the ball into space.

    Best moment: He was key to defeating Croatia in the crucial Group A game.

71. Clint Dempsey, USA

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    Playing out of position with a broken nose, Clint Dempsey should be praised for his effort and determination leading the USA's forward line.

    He was their only semblance of creativity or offensive spark bar a marauding full-back run or two, and his performances would have been even better had his regular partner Jozy Altidore not ducked out so early with a hamstring injury.

    Best moment: Slotting his nation ahead in seconds against Ghana.

70. Thiago Silva, Brazil

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    Thiago Silva disappointed at the FIFA World Cup, and while Brazil's performance without him—the 7-1 loss to Germany—was significantly worse, he still failed to show his best form.

    His return in the 3-0 loss to the Netherlands saw him haul down Arjen Robben for a penalty just minutes in, and he was exceptionally lucky to receive just a yellow card.

    Best moment: Scoring against Colombia.

69. Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica

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    Jorge Luis Pinto provided Costa Rica the leadership from the sideline this World Cup, but on the pitch, it was Bryan Ruiz who led the charge for Los Ticos.

    The 28-year-old was a versatile threat, providing support for Joel Campbell as a secondary striker and then tucking back into the midfield to defend.  It’s no coincidence that Ruiz, El Capitan, scored both of his goals in the two most important victories in the nation’s history.

    Best moment: His towering header saw Costa Rica capture an improbable 1-0 victory over Italy, but his perfectly placed shot against Greece stole the attention.

68. Hector Moreno, Mexico

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    Twenty-six-year-old Hector Moreno was a rock for Mexico's first three FIFA World Cup games, then he went off at half-time injured against the Netherlands and his team felt the absence.

    His role as a left-sided centre-back in the 3-5-2 was vital to containing electric right-wingers, and once he exited, El Tri were overrun with pace and skill.

    Best moment: Helping keep a clean sheet against Brazil in front of the watching world.

67. Arturo Vidal, Chile

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    Arturo Vidal was a major fitness doubt ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2014, but he came through arthroscopic knee surgery in time to start the first contest against Australia.

    You could tell he was limited but he gave his all, leading the midfield press as a No. 10 and striking fear into opponents. If he'd have been 100 percent it's likely Chile would have beaten Brazil in the round of 16.

    Best moment: His entire 87-minute display against the Selecao was aggressive and proficient. That he did it coming off knee surgery was ridiculous.

66. Rafa Marquez, Mexico

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    For a 35-year-old who, in the last year, lost his designated player role at the New York Red Bulls and returned to Mexico to play out his final years, Rafa Marquez didn't look half bad.

    Miguel Herrera's 3-5-2 system accentuated his strengths and hid his weaknesses very well, and it's a shame his defining moment may well have been the concession of a penalty against Arjen Robben in the round of 16.

    Best moment: Giving Mexico the lead in their crunch win over Croatia late on, capping a wonderful performance with a well-deserved goal.

65. Gary Medel, Chile

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    Medel's performances at centre-back for Chile were typically excellent; it's a role he's really embraced under Jorge Sampaoli.

    His club next season, be it Internazionale, as reported by Sky Sports, or Cardiff City, will likely consider playing him there on a regular basis, but at club-level his engine, snappiness and ferocity is best-served in defensive midfield.

    Best moment: Playing 108 imperious minutes against Brazil in cyborg-esque fashion, strapped together with tape, bandages and seemingly any other household items to hand.

64. Sergio Romero, Argentina

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    Sergio Romero exceeded expectations during the FIFA World Cup 2014, with many pinpointing him as a glaring weakness before a ball had even been kicked.

    He was a hero in the penalty shootout against the Netherlands that got Argentina to the final and kept an impressive four clean sheets from six games.

    Best moment: Saving Wesley Sneijder's penalty. Great springing leap!

63. Junior Diaz, Costa Rica

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    A pre-tournament injury to Bryan Oviedo (shattered fibula and tibia) left Jorge Luis Pinto with a gaping hole at his left wing-back position. In stepped in Junior Diaz.

    The 30-year-old proved to be effective on both sides of the ball in five starts, but he looked his best against Italy. In addition to his four tackles that match, Diaz provided the inch-perfect cross that allowed Bryan Ruiz to send Costa Rica to the round of 16.

    Best moment: Clean sheet and an assist against the Azzurri.

62. Andranik Teymourian, Iran

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    Andranik Teymourian was the best Iranian player at the finals, doing two persons' work in midfield following Javad Nekounam’s descent into poor form from the off.

    He tackled very well and closed off space in midfield superbly, providing Amir Sadeghi with a much-needed screen in front of defence.

    Best moment: His exhibition against Argentina, despite eventually yielding to Lionel Messi, was brilliant.

61. Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland

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    Xherdan Shaqiri proved in Brazil why life after Franck Ribery may not be so bleak at Bayern Munich, excelling once moved into the No. 10 role by Ottmar Hitzfeld and bagging three goals.

    He can carry the ball, find space, link superbly with even the most average of strikers and shoot from distance superbly. An all-round playmaker and game-winner to hang your hat on.

    Best moment: That goal against Honduras; the one that began the hat-trick.

60. Giovani Dos Santos, Mexico

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    Giovani dos Santos had a great FIFA World Cup and should have come away with three goals to his name.

    He was wrongly denied two onside strikes against Cameroon in the opener but continued to play well with his head down, and his reward finally came in the form of a long-range effort against the Netherlands in the round of 16.

    Best moment: He dominated Cameroon between the lines from start to finish.

59. Thibaut Courtois, Belgium

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    We didn't get to see the very, very best of Thibaut Courtois due to the fact that Belgium dominate the ball so heavily, but he did produce one epic save against Lionel Messi late in the quarter-final.

    There was, however, nothing he could do about Gonzalo Higuain's thunderbolt earlier in the game, and the 1-0 scoreline meant Courtois suffered his first-ever loss as a Red Devils player after 22 showings.

    Best moment: Said save against Messi. Masterful.

58. Mauricio Isla, Chile

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    Mauricio Isla had a fine tournament from right-wing-back, stretching the pitch for Chile and joining Alexis Sanchez in attacks.

    His penetrative running saw him get free on the overlap several times and hit the byline but a lack of end product—either crossing or passing—continues to let him down.

    The frustrating thing about Isla is that he could be an elite wing-back.

    Best moment: Bossing Spain.

57. Antoine Griezmann, France

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    Antoine Griezmann was a direct benefactor of Franck Ribery's injury issues, filling in on the left flank for France and adding guile and tactical nous to their play.

    With much of the attention on Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena, the Real Sociedad man was able to drop into pockets of space as and when they appeared to influence play.

    Best moment: Sealing the round of 16 win against Nigeria with a tap-in.

56. Rais M'Bolhi, Algeria

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    CSKA Sofia might just have a tough time hanging onto goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi after his four excellent showings at the FIFA World Cup 2014.

    The Algerian was dominant in his box, stopped shots well and showed safe hands when leaving his line to claim crosses.

    Best moment: His performance against Germany, despite the loss, was marvelous.

55. Dirk Kuyt, Netherlands

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    Who saw this coming?

    Dirk Kuyt came into the Netherlands side as a left-wing-back deputising for injuries, but he never dropped out due to the fact he still works so hard.

    He eventually settled into a right-wing-back role ahead of the regular option Daryl Janmaat and took a few mean penalties in the shootouts.

    Best moment: He overlapped and attacked superbly against Brazil.

54. Celso Borges, Costa Rica

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    If you want efficiency, look no further than Celso Borges. The 26-year-old guided Costa Rica’s midfield this World Cup, averaging more passes (40) and a higher completion percentage (87 percent) than any other member of La Sele, per WhoScored.com.

    He was the calm to Yeltsin Tejeda’s chaos. 

    Best moment:  That emphatic penalty in the round of 16 against Greece.

53. Martin Demichelis, Argentina

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    Martin Demichelis was a late addition to Argentina's 23-man squad to some surprise, so it was an intriguing decision by Alejandro Sabella to then go ahead and replace regular starter Federico Fernandez with him ahead of the quarter-final.

    His aggression and pro-activeness melded with Ezequiel Garay's calmer, more reserved style superbly, and for the three games he played in, including the final, he was a strong defensive presence.

    Best moment: He was at his best against the Netherlands. Impenetrable.

52. Miroslav Klose, Germany

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    Congratulations to Miroslav Klose, whose 16th total FIFA World Cup goal against Brazil breached Ronaldo's record and sealed his name in the history books...for now.

    He was used in careful fashion and started just three games, hence his moderate ranking, but he came up big on multiple occasions—that Ghana equaliser in particular was key.

    Best moment: Firing past Julio Cesar at the second attempt to seal the record.

51. David Ospina, Colombia

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    David Ospina wasn't too busy, but he showed decent hands, nice reflexes and a good control of his box on the rare occasion Colombia did fall under pressure.

    He's a reliable shot-stopper, inspires confidence in his defensive line, and there's nothing he could have done about the two Brazil goals that knocked los Cafeteros out.

    Best moment: He was superb against Uruguay when it mattered.

50. Ivan Perisic, Croatia

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    Croatia's big concern coming into the FIFA World Cup 2014 was the strength of the wingers, yet on reflection that was their best area overall.

    Ivan Perisic played well above his station, tearing full-backs to shreds and haring down the flanks to provide crosses and shots for the Vatreni. He was their best player over three games.

    Best moment: Destroying Cameroon on his own.

49. Benedikt Howedes, Germany

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    Benedikt Howedes played an entire tournament completely out of position, in a key area of the pitch, and he ended up winning the FIFA World Cup 2014.

    He's a right-footed centre-back who struggles against pace at right-back, so to see Joachim Low play him on the left flank behind the defensively blase Mario Goetze was a real shock.

    Best moment: That crashing header against the post in the final. 

48. Claudio Bravo, Chile

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    Claudio Bravo, now seemingly Barcelona's first-choice goalkeeper while Marc-Andre ter Stegen learns the ropes, has all the attributes to shine at Camp Nou and showed them at the FIFA World Cup.

    He's great with his feet, wonderful coming off his line to catch and did a great job "coping" with Chile's exceptionally short defensive line.

    Best moment: His display against Brazil was magnificent.

47. Mathieu Debuchy, France

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    Mathieu Debuchy benefitted greatly from Didier Deschamps' correct use of him, and as an explosive, attacking right-back he's great value to a top side.

    The hope is that Arsene Wenger utilises him in the same fashion once he completes his impending move to Arsenal, per Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, and he doesn't waste him in a Bacary Sagna-esque role.

    Best moment: Ripping Honduras open time and time again.

46. Miguel Layun, Mexico

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    Miguel Layun turned some heads at the FIFA World Cup 2014 but any teams scouting him must beware of the small sample size he's played in.

    As a flying wing-back he's fantastic and can play either side, but it's been a long time—more than two years—since he played in a flat-back four. How does he fit?

    Best moment: Blitzing poor Cedric Djeugoue in the opener and forcing him off at half-time.

45. Raphael Varane, France

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    Raphael Varane was France's best central defender present at the finals by a distance, with his immaculate timing, clean tackling and great anticipation on show in spades.

    He and Mamadou Sakho were a fantastic partnership due to their nice blend of pragmatism and aggression, but it's obvious who the superior of the two is—even at age 21.

    Best moment: Shutting down the defence against Switzerland.

44. Jermaine Jones, USA

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    Jermaine Jones had a fantastic FIFA World Cup, playing all over the midfield, tackling hard and even managed to get himself onto the scoresheet.

    He served as chief protection to an initially sloppy defensive line and helped DaMarcus Beasley out immensely against Ghana from the left-hand side.

    Best moment: The golazo against Portugal beats any tackle or surging run.

43. Robin Van Persie, Netherlands

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    Robin van Persie struggled with consistency issues during the tournament, but he managed to put in three good performances and three bad ones to level out quite well in our ranking.

    His sixth and final showing against Brazil boosted his dwindling stock, and the match stands as another lesson of why not to play a high line against RVP and Arjen Robben.

    Manchester United fans should be confident Louis van Gaal can get the best out of their Dutchman once again for this coming season.

    Best moment: The header against Spain. What a finish!

42. Marcelo Diaz, Chile

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    Marcelo Diaz put in four excellent showings for Chile, controlling the tempo of their play and sparking attacks at will.

    He covered the most amount of ground out of any player at the finals over four fixtures and was even man-marked by Wesley Sneijder as Louis van Gaal sought to limit his impact.

    Best moment: Dominating Spain in midfield.

41. Jose Juan Vazquez, Mexico

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    Jose Juan Vazquez turned a few heads this summer, putting in three all-action displays in Mexico's engine room.

    He plays his club football in Leon back home and is therefore tucked away from the European limelight but after a strong tournament there may well be a few calls fielded.

    His absence in the round of 16 match against the Netherlands, due to suspension, was rather noticeable.

    Best moment: Asserting his value in the opener against Cameroon, tackling cleanly and starting attacks fluidly.

40. Oscar, Brazil

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    Oscar stood as one of Brazil's few remaining quality performers by the end of a shaming tournament, with his Man of the Match performance against Croatia in the opening night a clear highlight.

    He was combative, pliable, played anywhere Luiz Felipe Scolari asked and carried a portion of the goalscoring load usually held by Fred.

    Best moment: His first (and Brazil's third) against Croatia looked awkward, but it was a great strike.

39. Tim Howard, USA

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    Tim Howard made a record-breaking 15 saves during the USA's round of 16 loss to Belgium, topping every feat since we started counting back in 1966.

    He was solid in the groups, too, looking near-flawless in his execution bar going down too early for Nani's opener in the Portugal game.

    Best moment: You can watch all 15 magnificent saves here.

38. Pablo Zabaleta, Argentina

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    Pablo Zabaleta was far more reserved than we're used to seeing him during the finals, sticking to a more regular right-back role despite Argentina's clear need for width.

    That's not to say he never went forward, but Alejandro Sabella led a careful defensive line and the Manchester City man put in a lot of defensive groundwork. Needless to say he was stellar as usual.

    Best moment: He was unsung throughout, but his six tackles against Switzerland, per WhoScored.com, made an impact.

37. Blaise Matuidi, France

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    Blaise Matuidi's performances tailed off as the tournament wore on, but his overall display after five games was extremely positive.

    His physicality and direct running into the channels scares the life out of defenders, and he was key to overloading the left side of the pitch in unison with Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema.

    Best moment: The endless penetrative runs against Switzerland. Unstoppable.

36. Sami Khedira, Germany

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    Sami Khedira started the tournament hindered by the horrible ACL injury he sustained early this past season, but he moved through the gears quite nicely and begun stepping up his performances.

    Much of what he does is based on his physical attributes, so to lose his burst and sustained power in the dribble hits him harder than most. As the finals elapsed, he got stronger and stronger.

    Best moment: Semi-final exhibition of power running.

35. Vincent Kompany, Belgium

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    Vincent Kompany had an excellent FIFA World Cup despite his team's perceived shortcomings, and if he can translate the national showings into a Manchester City shirt they'll be on course for another title.

    The only slight against him was his tendency to step out of defence with the ball, but it was likely a product of frustration given his colleagues' incessant slow moving of the ball.

    Best moment: Tim Howard stole all the plaudits, but Kompany was superb against the USA.

34. Jasper Cillessen, Netherlands

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    Jasper Cillessen put together a fine tournament in goal for the Netherlands, playing above his station and keeping four clean sheets.

    Louis van Gaal didn't trust him to save any penalties but he did play extremely well during normal time, showing us good reflexes, decent hands and excellent feet.

    Best moment: Duping Gonzalo Higuain with some brilliant footwork in the semi-final.

33. Mesut Ozil, Germany

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    Mesut Ozil has been one of the most polarising figured at the FIFA World Cup, with some suggesting he's been nothing short of superb while the rest called for him to be dropped on a round-by-round basis.

    His performances, in our view, level out somewhere in the middle: He stood an important figure between the lines early on so Germany could avoid pressing and move the ball quickly, but his influence has waned as Toni Kroos' role expanded higher up.

    Best moment: A strong overall performance against Brazil.

32. Kenneth Omeruo, Nigeria

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    Chelsea fans will have been smiling to themselves as they watched Nigeria breach Group F and hit the knockout stages, as their young prospect Kenneth Omeruo was the Super Eagles' best defender throughout the tournament.

    His ability to step out, physically, and aggressively quell danger and pursue the ball is Mamadou Sakho-esque. He's just as powerful, though not as awkward on the ball.

    Best moment: Bossing Edin Dzeko and Co.

31. Toni Kroos, Germany

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    Toni Kroos got off to a slow start but that wasn't entirely his fault; playing deeper doesn't suit his skill set in full and he can get a little lazy in the middle third.

    Joachim Low's decision to change formation (to 4-2-3-1) and push Kroos further forward was a masterstroke, as he won the game against France using his clever positional sense and heavily impacted the victory over Brazil.

    His slightly disappointing rank reflects the slow start.

    Best moment: Rinsing Brazil with two goals and an assist.

30. Hector Herrera, Mexico

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    Hector Herrera put in four all-action, stupendous displays in the heart of Mexico's midfield.

    The role he was given in Miguel Herrera's odd 3-5-2—a sort of inside right midfield role as part of a "three"—is tough to master tactically and even tougher to heavily impact the game from.

    Had his cracking shot against Croatia that hit the bar gone in, we'd be talking about him a lot more.

    Best moment: Ripping Croatia to shreds.

29. Charles Aranguiz, Chile

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    Udinese are a clever club: They signed Charles Aranguiz ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2014 and loaned him out to Internacional to keep his fitness.

    There will have been many heads turned by this Chilean midfielder during the tournament, with his slightly harsh moniker of "Poor Man's [Arturo] Vidal" coming to the fore in his all-action displays.

    Unfortunately, he's all locked up.

    Best moment: That absurdly well-taken penalty in the shootout against Brazil. A moment in which his strong technique—not just his athleticism and tactical nous—leapt to the fore.

28. Hugo Lloris, France

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    With many floating voters focusing on the excellence of "new" flavours Keylor Navas and Guillermo Ochoa, Hugo Lloris didn't get the praise he deserved.

    France's group was a little easy, but he was still tested, and his positivity in coming out and claiming crosses and sweeping up behind the defence quickly became a common—and welcome!—sight.

    Best moment: Clean sheet in a World Cup knockout game. Nigeria didn't stand a chance.

27. Cristian Gamboa, Costa Rica

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    Cristian Gamboa caught the eye right off the bat, with his committed running style, endless energy and byline-to-byline range impressing greatly.

    If there's a prototypical example of "making a name for yourself" Gamboa is it, as many managers will have begun digging into his profile to see just how transferable his skills from right-back are.

    Best moment: His absurd cross on the run against Uruguay, assisting Joel Campbell's goal.

26. Juan Cuadrado, Colombia

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    Juan Cuadrado showed everyone what he's capable of during his five games at the finals, ranging from the positively brilliant to the maddeningly poor.

    He's an immense dribbler, a joy to watch, but sometimes puts his head down a little too often and runs blind into areas he shouldn't. Jose Pekerman began moving him around the pitch in response to unlock his best, and we hope to see his game mature even further during the coming 2014-15 season.

    Best moment: Turning Jose Holebas inside out for Colombia's opening goal of the FIFA World Cup 2014.

25. Joel Campbell, Costa Rica

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    The cogs in Arsene Wenger's mind will be ticking after Joel Campbell's illustrious performances at the finals. Scouting his performances at Olympiakos tells you only so much but shouldering a team (offensively) in a World Cup at 22 years of age? Impressive.

    He grabbed a work permit this time last year so he's eligible to play in the Premier League, but will Arsenal take the plunge?

    Best moment: Smashing home against Uruguay. It has to be.

24. Nigel De Jong, Netherlands

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    Nigel De Jong had a very strong FIFA World Cup 2014, but he wasn't perhaps as good or influential as some have made out.

    He was the Netherlands' best central midfielder by a distance, but his lack of ability on the ball also diminished the Oranje's playing style through the middle at times.

    That said, as a tackler and an aggressor he's still the bee's knees.

    Best moment: Bottling up Lionel Messi fresh off a groin injury.

23. Mario Yepes, Colombia

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    Mario Yepes may have been given some serious protection in the form of Carlos Sanchez and Abel Aguilar, but he still performed heroically in Colombia's defensive line.

    At 38 years of age he was seen as the weak link coming into the competition, but he outshone Cristian Zapata and both his full-backs, dominating aerially and organising from the back.

    Best moment: Clean sheet in the opener against Greece. The door was locked.

22. Mathieu Valbuena, France

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    France barely missed Franck Ribery in Brazil due to the cleverness of Mathieu Valbuena from the opposite flank. The little magician manipulated space, created chances and linked superbly with his colleagues in every game played.

    Marseille fans will have been wondering where this version of Valbuena has been for the last 12 months.

    Best moment: Carving Switzerland open with consummate ease.

21. Marcos Rojo, Argentina

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    Marcos Rojo, playing out of position as a left-back, did extremely well to fill an obvious gap (weakness) in Alejandro Sabella's side and come out looking strong.

    He's quicker than most and got forward well when needed, but it was his ability to stabilise the formation and retain a defensive presence at the back that helped La Albiceleste the most.

    Best moment: Despite his best work coming in the defensive third, his goal against Nigeria will be the personal highlight.

20. Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico

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    Guillermo Ochoa's agent has probably had to buy 10 spare batteries for his phone ahead of the transfer window, as his client's displays on the world stage will likely have attracted hundreds—yes, hundreds—of admiring glances.

    He's a free agent after his contract with Ajaccio expired and he needs to make the right choice: He's too good to be a backup, but he could star at a top club.

    Best moment: Single-handedly denying Brazil in front of a watching globe, pulling off save after save in dramatic fashion

19. Alexis Sanchez, Chile

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    Alexis Sanchez put together an excellent tournament, played four brilliant games and earned a multi-million move to Arsenal as a result.

    Gooners can look forward to the Chilean's aggressive running, powerful dribbling and goalscoring nous next season, and he can play anywhere across the front three. He and Mesut Ozil will be magic together.

    Best moment: His goal against Brazil was poacher-ific, showing a different side to his game.

18. Philipp Lahm, Germany

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    If this iteration of the FIFA World Cup has proven anything, it's that Philipp Lahm is still kingpin at right-back, but he is still yet to fully convince in holding midfield.

    He has remarkable footballing intelligence, certainly, but coaches are making a mistake if they think he has to play centrally in order to get the best out of him: He can dominate a game from right-back.

    Best moment: Standing up and defeating Hulk one vs. one every time.

17. Keylor Navas, Costa Rica

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    Keylor Navas had been quietly rivaling Thibaut Courtois for the title of best La Liga 'keeper for the best part of 18 months prior to the tournament, but playing for little old Levante, few neutrals noticed his remarkable talents.

    He's not the perfect player—he's suspect coming off his line to deal with crosses—but his reflexes and shot-stopping ability are on par with the very, very best.

    Best moment: Denying the Dutch on his own and forcing them to beat Costa Rica in a penalty shootout.

16. Giancarlo Gonzalez, Costa Rica

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    Giancarlo Gonzalez put in several magnificent showings for Costa Rica, leading a stubborn and sturdy defensive line to three clean sheets in five games.

    He knows when to get nasty and when to stay upright. He plays a sentinel-esque role in the middle of the Ticos' back three and breathed confidence into his colleagues.

    Best moment: Offside trap masterclass against Netherlands. Seventeen clearances, too.

15. Ron Vlaar, Netherlands

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    Ron Vlaar stole the headlines after a wonderful performance against Argentina in the semi-final, shutting down Lionel Messi and Co. with consummate ease.

    The confidence in him soared—he moved quicker, passed better and ran faster—but missed the first penalty in the shootout to diminish his performance somewhat.

    A remarkable set of showings from the Aston Villa man.

    Best moment: Following Messi out of defence and executing a perfect slide-tackle on him high up the pitch.

14. Ezequiel Garay, Argentina

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    Anyone doubting Ezequiel Garay's pedigree is now running out of legs to stand on, as he put in several excellent showings to ensure Argentina were exceptionally tough to beat.

    His 10.1 clearances a game over seven matches, per WhoScored.com, in Brazil is eyebrow-raising, and he settled into an excellent partnership with Martin Demichelis late in the tournament, playing the role of sweeper.

    Best moment: The rock-solid showing and clean sheet against Belgium.

13. Jerome Boateng, Germany

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    Jerome Boateng won't grab the headlines after Germany's epic victory, but he was a faithful servant to Joachim Low throughout the tournament and played wherever he was asked to.

    His role in the final was superb, stepping out of defence and landing tackle after tackle. He was also a far more stable right-back than Shkodran Mustafi and nullified Cristiano Ronaldo with ease.

    Best moment: It doesn't get much better than Man of the Match in the World Cup final!

12. Karim Benzema, France

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    Karim Benzema put in four excellent performances to lead France to the quarter-finals, then disappeared off the face of the earth against Germany when it mattered the most.

    It'll be a black mark on his record forever, but if his play in Brazil is anything to go by, it's clear he's fast-developing into one of the most talented, all-round strikers in world football.

    Best moment: The goal that never was; that thunderous strike into Diego Benaglio's top corner just after the final whistle had gone.

11. Mats Hummels, Germany

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    Mats Hummels' impact upon the Germany defensive line during this tournament was gargantuan, though it's difficult to find the line between just how good he was and just how poor Per Mertesacker was before him.

    He won the quarter-final near-single-handedly, scoring the winner from a set piece and leading his defensive line to a clean sheet against France. An impressive performance followed against Brazil, then he secured another clean sheet in the final against Argentina.

    Best moment: The header against France was genuinely sublime.

10. Neymar, Brazil

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    How influential is Neymar? Without him, Brazil lost 10-1 over two games against the Netherlands and Germany.

    That's some record, and it points to the Selecao's complete and overwhelming dependence on him in the final third. Fred misfired, Hulk was poor and Oscar dipped in and out. No one could come up with the goods in his absence, and his personal tally of four goals looks rather good.

    Best moment: That finish against Cameroon. 

9. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany

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    Bastian Schweinsteiger stepped forward when things looked grim for Germany in more ways than one, reclaiming a spot in the team following a start on the bench and pushing through a difficult final to win the FIFA World Cup.

    Sami Khedira pulled up in the warm-up against Argentina and Christoph Kramer got knocked out early on; with Joachim Low's men dropping like flies, "Schweini" took a firm grip of the midfield and even played through an attempted assault by Sergio Aguero.

    Best moment: Soldiering through a grueling final, playing box-to-box midfield without cover and simply wiping away the blood.

8. Stefan De Vrij, Netherlands

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    Despite the rapturous applause Ron Vlaar's performances received throughout the tournament, Stefan de Vrij was, in fact, the Netherlands' best central defender at the FIFA World Cup 2014.

    He was smooth, cool and calculated in the challenge, good in the air and quicker across the ground than any of his defensive colleagues. Feyenoord will hope he starts playing like this on a regular basis for them from now on.

    Best moment: His 120 minutes against Argentina were brilliant, perhaps better than his goalscoring 90 against Spain.

7. Lionel Messi, Argentina

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    Lionel Messi's FIFA World Cup 2014 will be remembered with negative undertones, as he flunked the best possible chance of finally "matching" Diego Maradona and sealing his reputation as the greatest player in the history of the game.

    But he played spectacular football from start to finish and dragged an under-performing Albiceleste side to the final. He was burdened with so much and the expectation was so high, he was doomed to "failure" unless he lifted the trophy.

    Most assessments of him have been very, very harsh.

    Best moment: The wonder-strike against Iran in the 93rd minute. Peach.

6. Thomas Mueller, Germany

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    Thomas Mueller, at the age of just 24, has 10 FIFA World Cup goals and likely two more tournaments in his career. For the newly crowned record-holder Miroslav Klose, this is going to be a problem.

    The Bayern Munich man was great throughout, primarily playing off the right-hand side and linking superbly with Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm late in the competition.

    His goals came at key moments, reinforcing the belief that he's as "clutch" as they come.

    Best moment: Undoubtedly, his opening-game hat-trick against Portugal.

5. Daley Blind, Netherlands

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    Daley Blind had an absolutely fantastic tournament, playing in a multitude of positions and excelling in each and every one.

    He's got a wonderful cross, a nice cool head, stands up well in the tackle and has great recovery pace. His super showings were capped in the final match when he picked up a poacher's goal, firing past Julio Cesar to give the Netherlands a 2-0 lead.

    Best moment: There were so many, but that two-assist masterclass against Spain in the opener stands clear in the memory.

4. Javier Mascherano, Argentina

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    Javier Mascherano was the best defensive midfielder at the finals, showcasing all of his typical, known skills and then adding in a few bonus balls to tip himself to the top.

    In the absence of any central midfield form from the likes of Fernando Gago and Lucas Biglia, Mascherano was the one pushing passes between the lines and into Lionel Messi's feet, as well as locking up the centre from a defensive perspective.

    Best moment: The pictured tackle. Immense.

3. James Rodriguez, Colombia

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    What a tournament James Rodriguez had!

    The Monaco man was Colombia's most important player coming into the tournament, and with Radamel Falcao out of action due to injury, players and fans were looking to him to carry the load.

    His six goals and two assists in four starts made him the golden boy of the finals, with his mobility, cool finishing, dribbling and incisive passing all catching the eye.

    Best moment: Picking among so many is tough, but nothing beats that sublime volley against Uruguay, does it?

2. Arjen Robben, Netherlands

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    Arjen Robben was the Netherlands' best player throughout the FIFA World Cup, excelling in every game and giving defenders 90-minute nightmares.

    He twisted and turned his way to three goals and one assist and landed on the shortlist for the Golden Ball. While some of his "antics" angered some avid viewers, the adulation he's received is richly deserved.

    Is he getting better (and quicker) with age?

    Best moment: He scored an absolute cracker against Spain, dribbling 80 yards before beating Iker Casillas in space.

1. Manuel Neuer, Germany

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    Manuel Neuer is hereby crowned the best goalkeeper of the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the best player at the tournament, and he beat out some stiff competition to claim the titles.

    Guillermo Ochoa, Hugo Lloris, Keylor Navas, Tim Howard...the list of great shot-stopping performances in Brazil is seemingly endless, but none eclipsed Neuer's ability coming off his line and sweeping up.

    He played brilliantly in each and every game, and while it's rare to see a goalkeeper come out top in a list like this, Neuer deserves the accolade.

    Best moment: The 'keeper sweeper exhibition against Algeria. Out of this world.


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