By, Kyle Gibson
The World Cup is officially over, but I don’t want to admit that yet. Here’s a list of my Top Ten individual performances at World Cup 2014.
10. Marc Wilmots- Belgium Manager
Yeah, I know Wilmots is a manager, not a player, but unlike some coaches (cough cough, Scolari) who had a poor tournament, Wilmots was able to shine as manager of Belgium. 4 of his team’s 6 goals were scored by substitutes. That’s a manager who knows how to make a move.
9. Tim Howard- USA GK
Howard became the most capped US Goalkeeper at a World Cup and recorded 15 saves in the loss against Belgium. Howard played well in every game, keeping the US in the match in every game, with a very inexperienced back line.
8. Thomas Muller- MF/F Germany
Muller scored 5 goals for the 2nd consecutive World Cup, finishing 2nd for the Golden Boot. He would be higher on this list, but his form slacked off slightly after the Group Stage.
7. Javier Mascherano- MF Argentina
If you want to summarize Mascherano’s tournament with a single play, think back to the game saving slide tackle he made in the semifinals against the Netherlands. Superior performance for a man who thrives at doing the dirty work.
6. Manuel Neuer- GK Germany
Neuer showed he’s more than your average goalkeeper when he had 16 touches outside the box against Algeria and even took a throw-in during the Final against Argentina. Germany had a few shaky moments at the back, but always had Neuer to back them up. His save on Bemzema in the France game was nothing short of special.
5. Paul Pogba- Midfielder France
The young player of the tournament, Pogba has the potential to be a force for France in up to maybe 3 more World Cups. He has a temper, which can get you in trouble in a tournament with yellow card suspensions, but there’s no denying the already refined talent of a player so young.
4. Arjen Robben MF/F Netherlands
Robben is pure theatre. He is a villain, he is a scapegoat, he is the new face of diving in soccer. Above all that, he is one of the greatest players on Earth. I know he didn’t have a goal in the knockouts, but Robben’s performances did not drop off after the group stages. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a soccer player who thrives in big moments like Robben.
Lionel Messi- Mr. Everything, Argentina
Messi didn’t bring home the prize for Argentina, but he really answered his World Cup doubters, scoring 4 goals, collecting an assist and bringing home the tournament’s Golden Ball Award for best player. His goal against Iran was a stroke of genius and his assist to Angel DiMaria was super clutch. Messi is probably the best player in the world. He did what he does.
2. James Rodriguz- Colombia
Rodriguez was captivating for Colombia, scoring in all 5 games he played and getting 6 total on the way to the Golden Boot trophy. His volley goal against Uruguay will be remembered for years to come, as will his unexpected seizing of the spotlight. I wasn’t expecting much from Rodriguez, hell, I didn’t know a ton about him before this World Cup. If he stays with Monaco, there will definitely be a spike in TV audiences for Ligue 1 games.
1. Neymar- Brazil
No one meant as much to their team at this World Cup, or maybe any World Cup since Maradona in 1986. When Neymar was injured by the spineless Zuniga, the world was robbed of a chance to see the clear-cut top performer at the competition in the semifinals. I still think Brazil would have lost to Germany after seeing that 7-1 dismantling, but by nowhere near as wide a margin. In the 2 games without Neymar, Brazil had no idea what to do offensively. I will truly never forget the performance he put on in front of his home nation, under tremendous pressure.
What’s your list? Comment below!