WORLD CUP 2014: The All-Star Team?

WORLD CUP 2014: The All-Star Team?

Compiling this eleven has rekindled the ‘football hipster’ light in me. 

Not that this eleven is obscure, oh no. There’s no box-to-box Iranian midfielder complimenting the talents of a Honduran attacking midfielder, and no ball-playing centre half from South Korea.

These players are, for me, the best in their positions at the World Cup 2014.

The talent here is quite simply world class; and while they don’t know it, I’ve set them a challenge – to maintain their flawless standards throughout the tournament, so each of them features in FIFA’s ‘All Star XI’.

It’s a good job the grey suits at FIFA have a habit of creating a good eleven. After all, it’s a bloody awful name. Like something you’d affectionately call a primary school basketball team.

Pitting your ‘best eleven’ against your mates – at school, on the bus, or at the pub; and debating their various qualities is something that gets the hipster senses tingling in all of us.

I’m not going to apologise for the gushing praise delivered to these players. After all, it is a World XI.

02 Separator 03 Separator

 

Neuer in action for Bayern Munich

Neuer in action for Bayern Munich

GK – MANUEL NEUER – GERMANY 
AGE: 28
INT’L CAPS: 45
CLUB: BAYERN MUNICH

Neuer, thankfully, is no longer remembered by us, the England fans, as the man capable of bending goal lines.

Since that incredible World Cup quarter final fixture four years ago, Neuer has cemented his reputation as football’s finest goalkeeper. After beginning his career at Schalke and developing a reputation of a talent beyond his years, he finally secured a move to Bayern Munich in the summer of 2012.

Shot-stopper. Commander. Distributor. Leader.

He has surpassed the legendary European talents Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas in recent years, and will look to hand off new challengers to his mantle, with Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois both holding reasonable claims to the top spot.

RB – DANIEL ALVES da SILVA – BRAZIL
AGE: 31
INT’L CAPS: 73
CLUB: FC BARCELONA

Dani Alves is what Gary Neville would term the ‘modern day full-back’. A glitzy term used by Neville and his Sky chums to describe a player capable of turning defence into attack – with a forward run or incisive pass.

Capable of stopping both the tricksters and old-fashioned pacey wingers he comes up against – or both in Cristiano Ronaldo – Alves has long been regarded amongst the world’s best defenders. A member of the FIFPro XI on four occasions, winner of six European titles and four La Ligas with Sevilla and Barcelona, Alves will be the unsung hero of the Brazil side this summer.

Silva will hope to be lifting the World Cup on the 13th July in Rio

Silva will hope to be lifting the World Cup on the 13th July in Rio

CB – THIAGO SILVA – BRAZIL
AGE: 29
INT’L CAPS: 45
CLUB: PARIS SAINT GERMAIN

Next to Alves will be Thiago Silva. Considered by the legendary Franco Baresi to be his ‘heir’, Silva has won plaudits from players, pundits and fans, the world over.

A natural leader, Silva is excellent with the ball at his feet and has an exceptional reading of the game. Athletic, strong and quick, he has the ability to nullify the aerial threat, the man on the ball and the runner in-behind.

Considered amongst the best in Europe since making his name at Fluminese, Silva has graced the San Siro for the Rossoneri and most recently, Paris Saint Germain.

CB – VINCENT KOMPANY
AGE: 28
INT’L CAPS: 56
CLUB: MANCHESTER CITY

Perhaps the most contentious of my selections, Vincent Kompany will have to hold off the challenge of some experienced figures in Brazil, notably Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos for Spain, the Argentine Ezequiel Garay, and rising England star Chris Smalling (ahem!)

Remember though, that this XI is a prediction of those who will shine at the World Cup 2014. If Belgium are going to act on the reputation that are building, Kompany will be at the centre of it. An inspiration who has helped transform Manchester City from bit-part side to Premier League juggernauts – with a bit of added cash thrown in.

He is the natural leader of the Belgian outfit and will look to utilise his key strengths in stopping the various talents of Russia and South Korea as his Red Devils aim to top Group H.

Lahm in action for Germany during Euro 2012

Lahm in action for Germany during Euro 2012

LB – PHILIPP LAHM – GERMANY
AGE: 30
INT’L CAPS: 105
CLUB: BAYERN MUNICH

A man who has received more German caps than Voller, Rummenigge, Ballack, and The Kaiser himself, Beckenbauer.

Philipp Lahm is a uniquely talented player. Adept at playing on both sides of a back four, both sides of midfield and in the centre; he is simply the most talented defender in the game.

He is a one club man, having joined Bayern Munich as a 12 year-old in 1995. With the Bavarian outfit he has won six Bundesliga titles, five national Cups and the Champions League. He was integral to Jupp Heynckes treble-winning side and is considered by Pep Guardiola as the most intelligent footballer he has ever played with, or managed. Praise, indeed.

02 Separator 03 Separator

 

CM – BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER – GERMANY
AGE: 29
INT’L CAPS: 101
CLUB: BAYERN MUNICH

From one German legend to another. A Munich man. The brains of both club and country.

A box-to-box midfielder with a level of stamina matched only by the man next to him in this eleven. Schweinsteiger has everything – a tough tackler, adept at running with the ball, a Scholes-esque range of passing, and a decent goal-scoring record.

The Bavarian has the ability to grace any midfield in the world. Another man with a century of caps for Die Mannschaft. 

Vidal will hope to inspire his Chilean team-mates as he has done in Serie A in recent years

Vidal will hope to inspire his Chilean team-mates as he has done in Serie A in recent years

CM – ARTURO VIDAL – CHILE
AGE: 26
INT’L CAPS: 53
CLUB: JUVENTUS

The second of my contentious picks, but Arturo Vidal will be the lynchpin in a Chilean side which will upset the odds. Qualifying from their group alongside Spain, Chile will have much to thank Vidal for.

One of Juventus’ most prized assests, Vidal makes up one part of Europe’s most dynamic central midfield alongside Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo. There is nothing beyond Vidal. For me, the most complete midfielder in world football. Like Vincent Kompany, Vidal comes into my eleven not only on the basis of his talent, but the inspiration he will give his team. 18 goals too, this season. Not to be sniffed at from central midfield.

Xavi, Toure, Pirlo – three men considered here. Vidal will prove he is amongst them.

RM – CRISTIANO RONALDO – PORTUGAL
AGE: 29
INT’L CAPS: 110
CLUB: CF REAL MADRID

What has not already been said about Ronaldo? The World Player of the Year, perhaps one the Top 10 players to have played the game. His ongoing personal battle with Lionel Messi only seems to drive him to improve further.

We all know what this man can do. Pace, power, goals – over 50 this season. The ability to run rings around any defender in the game. The best player on the planet?

Portugal are faced with a tough task in Group G alongside well-fancied Germany. Ronaldo has the ability to upset Die Mannschaft’s title challenge. Can he drive Portugal to top the group and present Germany with a tough 2nd Round tie?

The best midfield player since, well... ever?

The best midfield player since, well… ever?

CAM – ANDRES INIESTA – SPAIN
AGE: 30
INT’L CAPS: 94
CLUB: FC BARCELONA

Another player described by the greats as the ‘complete footballer’. Rijkaard, Del Bosque, Zidane – all have bestowed such praise on the Spaniard.

A player of poise, and known for his almost magical relationship with fellow clubman Xavi Hernandez, Iniesta is perhaps the most influential part of Barcelona and Spain’s creative axis.

Winner of the World Cup 2010, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 – where he was Player of the Tournament – Iniesta, amongst a raft of other Spaniards, will be aiming for an unprecedented quadruple this summer in Brazil. And he’d more than deserve it.

LM – FRANCK RIBERY – FRANCE
AGE: 31
INT’L CAPS: 80
CLUB: BAYERN MUNICH

Franck Ribery, transfer controversies notwithstanding, has delighted the fans of some of the biggest clubs in Europe with his energetic wing play.

Having made his name in the French football league, he moved to Galatasaray, back to Marseille, and then on to Bayern Munich, where has enjoyed the greatest success. Courted by Arsenal and Real Madrid, amongst others, Ribery has made Bavaria his home; and alongside Arjen Robben fronts one of Europe’s greatest attacking bodies.

Champions League winner, World Cup runner up, Bundesliga winner on four occasions, third place to Messi and Ronaldo at last years Ballon d’Or, Champions League player of the year, World Cup golden boot …like his ‘team-mates’ in this eleven, Ribery has won everything there is to be won in world football.

02 Separator 03 Separator
Some bloke called Messi, apparently

Some bloke called Messi, apparently

 

CF – LIONEL MESSI – ARGENTINA
AGE: 26
INT’L CAPS: 83
CLUB: FC BARCELONA

Winner of World Player of the Year and FIFA Ballon d’Or on four consecutive occasions. Three Champions League winners medals. Six La Liga titles. Champions League Golden Boot winner on four occasions. Featured in the World XI on seven occasions. Scorer of the most goals in a calendar year.

26 years old.

The best since Maradona.

Will 2014 be his, and Argentina’s year?

02 Separator 03 Separator

 

So, there we have it – my eleven to shine at the World Cup 2014. Do you agree?

Get involved on Twitter @OwlsAlive and @hugh_wragg and in the comments section below with your thoughts on my selections, who I’ve left out, and who you think will shine in Brazil.

NEUER

ALVES

SILVA

KOMPANY

LAHM

SCHWEINSTEIGER

VIDAL

RONALDO

INIESTA

RIBERY

MESSI

 

world cup Brasil emblem 01

Hugh
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @hugh_wragg


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *