Monday, June 23, 2014

World Cup Best XI After Match Day 2

Each team has played two games and the landscape of the World Cup now appears much different from what it was just a couple weeks ago. Thus, here are our updated picks for the best XI of the World Cup so far. Because I am trying to fit as much talent into a single XI as possible, I will give myself free reign over positional decisions - for example, even though Arjen Robben has played striker for the Netherlands, there have been many impressive strikers and fewer outside midfielders, so I will play him at right midfield, where he plays for Bayern Munich.
Guillerme Ochoa, Mexico, Goalkeeper - Put on one of the best individual performances by a goalkeeper that we have seen in a long, long time. He made three separate point-blank saves to help Mexico to a huge tie against Brazil.

Serge Aurier, Ivory Coast, Right Back - Was The Ivory Coast's best offensive outlet against both Japan and Colombia down the right flank. Aurier had two assists, both on beautiful crosses, against Japan and was equally as dangerous (but perhaps not as lucky) against Colombia.

Jalal Hosseini, Iran, Center Back - Iran's back line has been absolutely superb through two games against Nigeria and Argentina, and that is largely due to the play of Jalal Hosseini. Hosseini is the veteran man on the Iranaian back line, and it has showed, as he has made countless brilliant tackles and clearances.

Mario Yepes, Colombia, Center Back - Mario Yepes is 38 years old and still dominating on the 
world stage. Yepes dominates on the ground and in the air, both of which are expected of him, but also has been impressively ambitious in starting counter attacks and moving forward.

Daley Blind, The Netherlands, Left Back - Blind was not nearly as influential in the game against Australia as he was against Spain, but his two-assist game versus Spain is enough to get him into this starting XI.

Arjen Robben, The Netherlands, Right Midfielder - Without a doubt the best player in the tournament so far, Robben has three goals to his name, all of which were outrageous solo efforts. He has played at striker for the Netherlands so far but I'm using my creative license to move him to right midfield, where he traditionally plays for Bayern Munich.

James Rodriguez, Colombia, Center Midfielder - Rodriguez has been the midfield mastermind behind Colombia's recent success; he has two goals in two games as well as countless key passes and dribbles, but I'm not even sure if we've seen the best of him yet, which is a scary thought for Colombia's upcoming opponents.

Mathieu Valbuena, France, Center Midfielder - The French have great finishers and equally impressive holding midfielders, but the question coming into the world cup was whether anyone could connect the two. The answer: yes. The man: Mathieu Valbuena, who has been the most creative player for France thus far, registering a total tally of one goal and one assist.

Alexis Sanchez, Chile, Left Midfielder - Chile has experienced a surprising amount of success so far, and that is largely due to the fantastic play of Sanchez. He is not only the creator for this Chile team but is also the main finisher for them. He has played up top for Chile in the World Cup, but I'm putting him on the wing, where he traditionally plays for Barcelona.

Robin Van Persie, The Netherlands, Striker - He will be disappointed to have to miss the Netherlands final group game against Chile, but Van Persie had a brilliant first two games regardless. His diving header in the Netherlands' game against Spain is one of the best goals of the tournament so far and his total of three goals is tied for top in the tournament.

Karim Benzema, France, Striker - Benzema has a fantastic tally of three goals so far, but he should honestly have several more. He missed a penalty, was denied a goal against Switzerland due to the final whistle, and has refused to take a couple chances himself by passing them off to teammates (he has 2 assists). Benzema has been absolutely every where for France, who now look like legitimate title competitors.

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