Brazil 2014 World Cup Dream Team – Not What You Expect
The 2014 World Cup has been one of the most memorable and exciting in modern times. From shocks in the group games to late drama in the knockout stages, we’ve been pretty blessed with the football on display over the past month. The semi finals provided us with one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history, and perhaps the most boring semi final in memory! Despite this, there are now only 2 games remaining and we are only 2 days away from knowing who will be crowned world champions.
The competition as ever has provided a platform for lesser known names to show the world what they can offer. With this in mind, here is my World Cup Surprise XI. A team of players who weren’t household names going into the tournament but have done their reputation no harm at all with their performances.
The Surprise World Cup Dream Team:
Goalkeeper – Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
The Costa Rican shotstopper has been nominated for the golden glove having only conceded one goal from open play in the competition. His heroics in the knockout games against Greece and Holland almost saw Costa Rica become the most unlikely of semi finalists in World Cup history. Quick off his line and brave, Navas is now a keeper in demand with Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool all rumoured to be interested in the Levante goalkeeper.
Other notables – Ochoa (Mexico) and Mbolhi (Algeria)
Right Back – Cristian Gamboa (Costa Rica)
Gamboa was part of the back four that protected Navas so well throughout the competition and he also proved to be a useful outlay for the side going forward. Currently plying his trade in Norway with Rosenborg, expect to see him make the move to one of Europe’s bigger leagues in the future. There has been talk of a number of Premier League clubs showing an interest in the player, so watch this space.
Other notables – Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin (USA)
Left Back – Ricardo Rodriguez (Switzerland)
Rodriguez is a player with a bright future ahead of him and someone currently being tracked by Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspurs. Currently playing for Wolfsburg in Germany, Rodriguez came into the tournament with a growing reputation, and for man of us this was a first glimpse of his talent. Solid in the tackle and great going forward, Rodriguez was one of the bright spots from a relatively disappointing Swiss team. He’ll want to forget the game against France, but his performances against Ecuador and Argentina did enough to show that he has the potential to become one of the world’s best left backs in the coming seasons.
Other notables – Ghoulam (Algeria) and Diaz (Costa Rica)
Centre Back – Oscar Duarte (Costa Rica)
Yet another Costa Rican player in the team but this shows the performance put in by this team. For me, Duarte has been one of the best defenders in the competition. Currently playing for Club Brugge in Belgium, he was excellent in all 3 group games and even chipped in with a goal against Uruguay. A red card ruled him out of the quarter final with Holland, but his performances did enough to secure a place in my side.
Centre Back – Gary Medel (Chile)
Okay, so Gary Medel is someone that many of us may be familiar with as he has played in both Spain and England, but his role in centre defence for Chile showed a different side to his game. He must have been one of the smallest defenders in the competition but his pace and hunger meant he was hard to get past. Was a big reason Spain struggled to break Chile down and could very well be on his way to Inter Milan as a result of his fine performances in Brazil.
Other notables – Belkalem (Algeria), Gonzalez (USA) and Moreno (Mexico)
Midfield – Juan Cuadrado (Colombia)
While he may not have been an unknown going into the tournament he certainly wasn’t a household name. Cuadrado’s performance down the right side of Colombia’s midfield was a joy to watch, and his link play with Rodriguez saw them play some truly entertaining stuff. With 4 assists, Cuadrado leads the way in creating goals for his team. Currently playing for Fiorentina, expect to see Cuadrado playing for one of Europe’s elite come September. Man Utd and Bayern Munich have both been rumoured to be interested in him.
Midfield – Muhamed Besic (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
They may have exited at the group stage but Muhamed Besic can be proud of his performance in Brazil. Did the donkey work that allowed Pjanic to pull the strings for Bosnia going forward. He has a great engine and can pick a pass. Currently playing in Hungary with Ferencvaros, I expect to see him playing in one of Europe’s top leagues pretty soon. Stoke City, Swansea and Sevilla have all been rumoured to be interested in him.
Midfield – Yacine Brahimi (Algeria)
Brahimi caught the eye for Algeria scoring a goal and getting an assist in Brazil. He may not have started every game but he certainly showed his quality when on the ball, most notably against Germany when he proved dangerous every time he picked up the ball. The Algerians surprised a lot of us and if their final ball was better Brahimi and co could have beat the Germans for a quarter final spot.
Other notables – Herrera and Guardado (Mexico), Bradley (USA) and Musa (Nigeria)
Attacking Midfielder – James Rodriguez (Colombia)
Okay, so he’s maybe not an unknown, and certainly not a surprise, but I couldn’t pick a World Cup XI without having James Rodriguez in it. He has excelled in Brazil and along with Cuadrado, shows that Colombia have a bright future ahead of them. Thoughts of what might have been had Falcao been available will no doubt go on for years in Colombia, but Rodriguez stepped up to the plate and spearheaded his teams challenge, and for me has been the player of the tournament. He has scored all sorts of goals in Brazil, and his strike against Uruguay must go down as one of the greatest ever World Cup strikes. Talk of a big money move to Real Madrid is on the cards. He would certainly fit into the galacticos bill – Bale, Ronaldo, Rodriguez and Benzema is a mouthwatering prospect.
Other notables – Ruiz (Costa Rica) and Feghouli (Algeria)
Striker – Joel Campbell (Costa Rica)
The 22 year old came into the World Cup of the back of a good year with Olympiakos in Greece, and showed in the first game against Uruguay just what a talent he is. He scored the first and provided the pass of the tournament for the third as Costa Rica started the tournament with a bang. He continued to show his ability throughout the tournament and looks like he could have an exciting future ahead of him. The big question will be whether or not he will get a chance at Arsenal in the coming season. My thoughts are that Wenger will decide to cash in on him following his performances in Brazil. AC Milan have been rumoured to be interested.
Striker – Enner Valencia (Ecuador)
Many expected namesake Antonio Valencia to be the main man for Ecuador but it was Enner who caught the eye as he banged in 3 goals in the group stages. Ecuador may not have qualified from their group, but Valencia’s performance appear to have secured him a lucrative move to West Ham. From what I seen of Valencia, I think he will cause Premier League defenders plenty of problems with his speed, strength and heading ability. He seems to have a little bit of everything. Move over Andy Carroll.
Other notables – Slimani (Algeria) and Origi (Belgium)
Manager – Miguel Herrera (Mexico)
If ever a manager wore his heart on his sleeve at the World Cup it was Mexico’s Herrera. Loved by his players and adored by fans, he was great to watch along the line in Brazil, even becoming a Vine cult hero in the process. Mexico were moments away from securing a quarter final date, and I felt a little gutted for Herrera when they went out. He proved that hard work and organisation can go a long way.
My Starting XI