2014 World Cup all-stars

The World Cup ended two weeks ago, which means that it’s high time for me to offer my World Cup all-star team. But first, a word about the tournament.

The consensus among those who covered it is that this was the best World Cup in modern memory. I’ve followed every World Cup since 1978 (ten in all), but my memory of the early ones has become hazy. Certainly, though, this was the best World Cup in a long time.

The Group Stage and Round of 16 were outstanding. The play was open, the cynicism was in check, and many of the matches provided high drama.

Unfortunately, this cannot be said of the matches that followed. Some were tense — primarily because it was clear that one goal would be enough to win — and one will be remembered for decades — Germany’s shocking 7-1 win over Brazil.

But there was nothing to rival the late-stage matches of 1986 — France’s shoot-out win over Brazil (as good a World Cup match as I’ve ever seen); the five-goal thriller of a Final; or even Argentina’s 2-1 win over England (featuring Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal).

In any event, this World Cup gave the tournament a needed boost after several mediocre ones in a row.

Here are my all-star selections:

First Team

Navas — Costa Rica

Lahm — Germany
R. Rodriguez — Switzerland
Hummels — Germany
T. Silva — Brazil

Mascherano — Argentina

James Rodriguez — Colombia
Robben — Holland
T. Muller — Germany
Neymar — Brazil
Messi — Argentina

Second Team

Neuer — Germany

Aurier — Ivory Coast
Blind — Holland
Vlaar — Holland
Garay — Argentina

Schweinsteigger — Germany
Pogba — France

Cuadrado — Colombia
Shaqiri — Switzerland
Valbueana — France
Al. Sanchez — Chile

Honorable Mention

Howard — U.S.
M’Bohli — Algeria
Enyeama — Nigeria
Ochoa –Mexico

Boateng — Germany
Holebas — Greece
Gonzalez — Costa Rica
Yepes — Colombia
Van Buyten — Belgium

Arevalo Rios — Uruaguay
Pirlo — Italy
Herrera — Mexico
Kroos — Germany
Iniesta — Spain
Di Maria — Argentina
Pjanic — Bosnia
Perisic — Croatia
Aranguiz — Chile
Karagounis — Greece

T. Cahill — Australia
Schurrle — Germany
Slimani — Algeria
Gyan — Ghana
E. Valencia — Ecuador
Gervinho — Ivory Coast

Player of the tournament — James Rodriguez
Runner-up — Robben


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