It really has been magnificent hasn’t it! I’ve gone for a 352 this time…
GK – Cho Hyun-Woo (South Korea)
It was a glorious match that made me celebrate like an idiot (partly because I bet money on Germany’s failure). He had been shaky in earlier matches, but he was truly fantastic in this game, as he produced a wonder save to deny Die Mannschaft. Special mention should go to 45-year-old Hadary of Egypt who produced a wonderful penalty save.
CB – Diego Godín (Uruguay)
He has been unlucky to only now be getting his first entry. Has been fantastic the whole tournament, alongside Uruguay’s staunch defence. They still haven’t conceded yet. He will be central to their fortunes going forward. Now, if they could only sort out their midfield issues, then we’d have a genuine contender.
CB – Andreas Granqvist (Sweden)
Has now 2 penalties to his name, but didn’t get in here due to the goal. Both he and Lindelof raised their games significantly against Mexico to produce a wonderfully solid display. 3 defensive headers and 3 successful tackles say it all.
CB – Raphael Varane (France)
They’ve only conceded once and yes, tougher tests await, but the French defence has been one of the few decent ones at this years World Cup. Varane produced a towering performance against Denmark with 7 successful defensive aerials. He’s still only 25. Just think of what he might yet achieve.
DM – Milan Badelj (Croatia)
The 29-year-old has given his manager a huge headache. A goal, an assist, a 90% pass success rate, 3 successful dribbles, 3 successful tackles, I could keep going. How do you fit Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic and Badelj in one midfield? They really are looking good, aren’t they.
DM – Éver Banega (Argentina)
How did he not start the first two matches? I like Sampaoli but I wanted to give him a good shake over this one. Provided some wonderful forward passes from midfield, something Argentina had been sorely lacking. It’s amazing what Messi can do when provided the ball correctly. Argentina won me over this week, and I now really want to see them do well.
RM – Lionel Messi (Argentina)
He had been unfairly butchered by the press after the Mexico game, when the service to him by the other Argentinian players had been dreadful. He cannot win every game on his own. The goal against Nigeria was a thing of beauty, with 2 delightful touches to set himself up. Perhaps the goalkeeper could have done better, but overall it was a marvellous goal.
AM – Marouane Fellaini (Belgium)
Fellaini has got far too much abuse in the Premier League and this felt like his moment of vengeance. He tore Eric Dier apart as Belgium B deservedly beat England B in the most pointless match of the World Cup. Still can’t see him starting the next game though.
LM – Isco (Spain)
Long overdue, he has been one of the few Spanish players to emerge with credit so far. 4 successful dribbles, 2 aerial battles won and 3 successful tackles were topped off with a goal. They are in the easier side of the draw and if they keep focused will surely reach the final.
CF – Paolo Guerrero (Peru)
Aren’t Peru wonderful! They really did deserve more from the tournament but at least they got a win at the end. Guerrero has been a threat all tournament and finished it with a goal and an assist. It is up to Peru now to continue the progress and make this a more common occurrence. At 34, he won’t see another World Cup, but he can go home with his head held high.