Many high profile players prove the difference, Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller & Neymar have showcased their talent at this year’s World Cup.
It has been a World Cup that has so far seen attacking players outshine defenders, while goalkeepers have struggled attacking players have flourished. This article looks at the 3 standout players of the Group stages at this year’s finals.
The 30-year-old Bayern Munich winger has been utilized by Louis Van Gaal in 2 man attack to devastating effect. The highlight of his tournament being his 2nd goal against Spain where he reached a top speed of 37km/ph to leave Sergio Ramos in his wake, before dragging the ball back onto his left to fire the ball to the net passed Spanish keeper Iker Casillas to score a memorable goal.
Robben scored 2 goals against Spain and succeeded with 4 dribbles the highest of any player in that game.
He showcased that ability again against Australia scoring in the 20th minute leaving the Australian in his wake before slotting away with his left foot. The former Chelsea winger provided his first assist of the tournament for Memphies Depay to score and secure a win over Chile. At Bayern Munich last season Robben was usually played in a right wing role. Louis Van Gaal has given him more freedom in this system and the Dutch team have benefitted. Robben has averaged 3.3 shots per game,2.3 key passes and 3.3 dribbles.
Colombia have been a joy to watch at this year’s finals with the pace, trickery and relentless running of Juan Cuadrado being complemented by the guile, technical ability and artistry of James Rodriguez. The highlight of the Monaco man’s tournament was arguably his last game. Rested for the first 45 minutes and with the scores deadlocked at 1-1, Colombia opted to bring on their star man and he provided 2 assists and scored a delightful chip to secure a 3rd win for Colombia.
Rodriguez sealed the win in Colombia opener drilling home a left footed effort. He followed this up with a headed effort against Ivory Coast in a narrow 2-1 win. The 23-year-old has been very impressive at this year’s final scoring 3 goals and providing 2 assists, he is bound to be a marked man in the round of 16. The former Porto player has averaged 3.7 shots per game, 2 key passes and 3.3 dribbles.
The golden boy of Brazilian football is currently the top scorer in this year’s finals scoring a brace against Croatia and Cameroon. It was his performance against Cameroon that was the highlight of his tournament, with the Barcelona attacker scoring 2 goals and showcasing some of the skills that convinced Barcelona that he is the player to play alongside Messi. With striker Fred failing to convince for the Selecao Neymar has stepped up at this year’s World Cup even if Mexico showed how the 22-year-old can be contained.
While at Barcelona Neymar is usually deployed in a left wing role in a 4-3-3 formation it has been noticeable the different positions he is taking up for this Brazil team, often dropping deep to receive the ball and taking up central positions just behind Fred when many thought he would play on the left cutting in to link with striker Fred, Neymar has demonstrated his tactical awareness in this Brazil team and has largely lived up to expectations so far. The Brazil No.11 has averaged 3.7 shots per game, 2 key passes and 3.3 dribbles per game.