Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top 10 Players Of The World Cup So Far

1. Arjen Robben, Striker, Netherlands - Nobody expected the performance that Robben put on against Spain. Sure, we all knew that he was a good player, but Robben looked like a man possessed, as evidenced by his final tally of two goals on the night. Even when he wasn't directly putting the ball in the back of then net he looked outstanding; with the time wearing on late in the game, Robben recieved a bouncing ball about 5 yards outside the box. I'm not sure there is a single soccer player who could have put the hit on this ball the way Robben did, as he smashed the ball with venom towards the upper left corner. Granted, Iker Casillas made a great on the shot, but at that point it became clear that Arjen Robben is currently in top form.

2. Robin Van Persie, Striker, Netherlands - With cries of "World Cup under-performer" ringing in his ears, Robin Van Persie went out and put on an absolute masterclass performance against one of the more highly regarded defenses in the world. He scored to goals altogether, but it was the first that was truly special and may be the goal that this World Cup is remembered by. Netherlands' left wing back Daley Blind played a perfect ball over the top to Van Persie, who dove with incredible grace to head the ball over the keeper. It will certainly be exciting to see if him and Robben can maintain their form for the rest of the World Cup.

3. Thomas Muller, Striker, Germany - There go Germany's striker problems... With no true striker in the roster outside of 36 year old Miroslav Klose, Germany stuck Muller up top in a false-9 formation that is reminiscent of Spain's formation with Cesc Fabregas up front during the 2010 World Cup. Muller came through, registering a hat trick that included a penalty kick goal and two goals from open play. Though none of his goals were particularly incredible, there is something to be said for him being in the right place at the right time. If Germany have aspirations of winning the cup, they are going to need Muller to remain in form at the striker position.

4. Oscar, Brazil, Attacking Midfielder - While Brazil as a whole played poorly against Croatia, Oscar enjoyed an outstanding game. He had the pass which led to Fred's "penalty," had the assist on Neymar's goal, and managed to score a beautiful goal late in the game. Being a fan of the EPL and watching him at Chelsea, it was incredible to see the difference between his play for Chelsea and for Brazil. For Chelsea, Jose Mourinho employs him behind the striker in his preferred role, but allows him no freedom and insists that he track back on defense. For Brazil, Oscar was allowed to roam wherever he pleased, as evidenced by his 7 completed dribbles (his highest total for Chelsea is 4). Oscar was a big question mark coming into the tournament, so Brazilian fans will be pleased to see that he seems to be on top form.

5. Joel Campbell, Costa Rica, Striker - Arsenal have a real star in Joel Campbell if they ever choose to use him. Campbell's incredible dribbling skills and pace were showcased all night as he tore up the Uruguayan defense, but what was most impressive was his monstrous left foot. Campbell let several very long distance efforts fly on the night and all of them were absolute rockets that missed the net by just inches. On his only goal, Campbell fired the ball back across the goal giving the keeper no chance at a save. With the game winding down, Campbell completed his brilliant night with a beautiful pass in behind the defense that resulted in Costa Rica's final goal. If Campbell continues to play this way, Group D may be even more of a "group of death" than we originally thought.

6. Mats Hummels, Germany, Center Back - Hummels didn't have a ton of defending to do against a 10-men Portugal team, but what little he did have to do was done expertly. The real reason he ends up on this list was his fantastic headed goal. Hummels went up against two mammoths for center backs in Pepe and Bruno Alves, managing to out-jump the two of them and fire the ball into the back of the net. Hummels will have harder tests to come, but the way he played against Porugal certainly makes him deserving of a spot on this list.

7. Karim Benzema, France, Striker - Like Germany, France didn't have too stiff competition, as they were going up against a 10-men Honduras side. However, as soon as Honduras went down to ten men, they immediately packed it in on defense, so it is a testament to Benzema's ability that he still managed to find enough open space and bag two goals. Both goals were clinically finished, the second being a very impressive effort from a tough angle that he simply powered over the goalkeeper's hands. It is also worthwhile to mention that Benzema brings much less baggage than French strikers of the past, which will be a relief to French fans after the fiasco at the South African World Cup.

8. Daley Blind, Netherlands, Left Wing Back - Being a wing back, Blind had a lot of responsibilities to manage, as he needed to provide width in the attack and track back to support the wide areas on defense. He preformed both of these jobs solidly, but what set him apart was his passing. Who knew Daley Blind was going to be the next Andrea Pirlo... His two long balls to Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben both resulted in goals and were both so incredibly directed that I'm not sure they would have ended up in goals if he had even been a foot off in any direction. Many left backs struggle to make any noticeable impact in attack but that was not the case for Daley Blind against Spain - he fueled the Netherlands' attack.

9. Alexis Sanchez, Chile, Striker - For the first twenty minutes of Chile's match against Australia it looked as if the final scoreline was going to be outrageous in Chile's favor. That is a testament to how easily Alexis Sanchez sliced open the Australian defense at the start of the game. Sure, the game settled down a bit and Sanchez found considerably less space to penetrate, but those first few minutes gave us a glimpse of how good Alex Sanchez can be. In the end, he registered a goal and an assist, both in the first twenty minutes, and will be the key player for Chile if they manage to make it out of the group.

10. Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico, Goalkeeper - I'm kind of cheating by adding Ochoa here because his incredible game against Brazil technically wasn't in the first round of games, but his performance was simply too good to ignore. Even in his first game against Cameroon he was brilliant, but against Brazil he was on another level of brilliant. By my count, he made four incredible saves from point blank range and 6 saves in total, both outrageous tallies. His save on a Neymar header early in the game was the best save we had seen yet in the tournament, but he may have trumped it with another save later in the game on a wide open Thiago Silva header. Most importantly, though, he helped gain a huge point for Mexico that will be crucial to their group stage endevours.

1 comment:

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