The 2014 World Cup is officially in the books.
Germany’s 1-0 win in Rio ended the latest campaign, lauded by many as one of the best tournaments in recent memories, thanks in large part to an action-packed group stage.
The Germans were worthy winners, hands down the best team on a game-by-game basis during the month long tournament.
Here is TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Best XI from the the 2014 World Cup:
GK Manuel Neuer, Germany: The heroics of Costa Rican Keylor Navas caught a lot of headlines, although his run came to the end in the quarterfinals. That opened the door for Neuer, often in the discussion for the impossible to label “best goalkeeper in the world” tag. Neuer helped pave the way to Germany’s triumph, and while he may not have had much to do in Sunday’s final, he was immense throughout.
D Ron Vlaar, Netherlands: Questions about a young Dutch back line dogged the team heading into Brazil, and it was Aston Villa man Vlaar who helped anchored the team’s strong defensive effort. His missed penalty against the Argentines will surely haunt him, but he can hold his head up high for helping the Netherlands to a third place finish.
D Giancarlo Gonzalez, Costa Rica: Group winners in a quartet that featured Italy, England and Uruguay, the Costa Ricans provided shutdown defense, thanks in part to the great play of Navas, as well as the form of Gonzalez.
D Philipp Lahm, Germany: Captain of the world champions, Lahm started the tournament in the midfield, but it was his shift to right back that opened things up for Germany and saw them flourish, cantering to a World Cup win.
M Javier Mascherano, Argentina: Capped off a sensational performance against the Netherlands with a tremendous block of Arjen Robben to help the team advance to the final. It was more than just the one moment of excellence that lands Mascherano on this list, as he did an excellent job protecting the Argentinian back line.
M Toni Kroos, Germany: It was something of a coming of age performance for Kroos, the Bayern Munich midfielder who probably played the best soccer in Germany shirt
M James Rodriguez, Colombia: The tournament’s high-scoring, Rodriguez’s accomplishment speak for themselves. Only a brutal and sluggish shackling by the Brazilian defense of Rodriguez helped see off Colombia.
M Thomas Muller, Germany: All he does is score goals. His gait may not look like that of a professional soccer, but his tally of five goals in Brazil raised his career haul to ten across two tournaments. His ability to find open space in the opposing box is unparalleled.
F Lionel Messi, Argentina: While the Barcelona star might not have ever played at the peak of his powers, a worn down Messi was still great. His goals helped Argentina’s progression from the group stage, and the attention he commanded opened up spaces for his teammates — it’s not his fault some of them couldn’t capitalize.
F Neymar, Brazil: Before his World Cup came to a cruel end against Colombia, Neymar’s dynamic attacking ability made Brazil a danger any time it had the ball. His absence in the semifinal horror show against Germany only helped his case for inclusion as one of the best players in the tournament.
F Arjen Robben, Netherlands: His infuriating diving antics aside, Robben was nearly unstoppable at times for the Oranje, few players showed the same ability to get in behind and finish chance that he did.