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World Cup 2014: The Betting.Betfair team of the tournament

Plenty of German players in the team of the tournament
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Germany were deservedly crowned world champions last night after overcoming Argentina in extra time. It marked the end of a wonderful tournament, with some fantastic individual performances along the way. We asked all of our World Cup writers for their best XI - here are the results...

GK: Neuer

RB: Lahm
CB: Vlaar
CB: Hummels
LB: Blind

DM: Mascherano
DM: Kroos

AM: Robben
AM: Rodriguez
AM: Messi

F: Muller

Coach: Pinto

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer (Germany)

A colossus between the sticks, it says much for Neuer's performances this summer that this World Cup was a standout one for goalkeepers - think Navas, Ochoa, Howard -  yet no-one really came close to beating him to this team. Dominating every aspect of the goalkeeping position, including the often hard to master 'sweeper-keeper' role against France and Argentina, Neuer provided a platform for his country to work from and his goal never seriously looked like being breached in the final.

Germany are strong favourites at [4.4] to win Euro 2016


Right-Back: Phillip Lahm (Germany)

Switching to a right-back role from midfield after the scare Germany received in the second round game against Algeria, Lahm instantly provided his team with more solidity and balance in defence as well as an extra threat going forward. He also instantly cemented himself as one of the world's best players and the standout full back of this tournament. A quiet, yet assured, presence, Lahm is a natural leader and is likely to still be wearing the armband come Euro 2016.


Centre-Back: Ron Vlaar (Netherlands)

The Netherlands were widely dismissed before the World Cup with many pointing to the prominent position of Aston Villa's Vlaar in the centre of the defence as justification for their opposition to Louis van Gaal's team. But the 29-year-old excelled throughout in a defence that finished the tournament on a run of three clean sheets. It will be a shame if people will remember Vlaar for his penalty miss in the shootout against Argentina as he arguably shouldn't have been in that position in the first place and it overshadows his massive defensive contribution that grew in importance throughout the tournament. 

Perhaps not inspired by a spate of summer signings that includes Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson and Philippe Senderos, punters are writing off Villa ahead of the forthcoming Premier League season. Paul Lambert's side are [4.0] just to make the top 10.


Centre-Back: Mats Hummels (Germany)

There are probably a handful of players that can legitimately claim to be the best defender in the world and Hummels, when fully fit, is certainly among them. It is no coincidence that as soon as he came back into the side for the quarter-final against France, Germany looked a lot more solid, despite France boasting a strong and tricky front line. He even found time to pop up with the winning goal, out-muscling another great defender in Raphael Varane to head home. Due largely to Hummels' presence, Germany conceded just one goal in their final three World Cup games, and that solitary strike came when they were leading Brazil 7-0. He also managed to navigate the entire tournament without picking up a single booking.


Left-Back: Daley Blind (Netherlands)

In our team at left-back, Blind was deployed by Louis van Gaal in a number of positions throughout the tournament to underline his importance to this Netherlands team. Just 24, but with 19 international caps to his name, Blind's positional flexibility marks him out as one to watch for the future. An excellent tournament for the Ajax man - marked by both exciting forays upfield and defensive resilience - was capped by a goal in the third-place playoff as the Dutch stunned a bedraggled Brazil for the second time in a week.


Defensive Midfield: Javier Mascherano (Argentina)

While there were plenty of attacking moments to remember in Brazil, one of the abiding memories of this World Cup will be Mascherano's superb goal saving challenge on Arjen Robben in the semi-final. The timing, the awareness, the execution - it epitomised the Barcelona man's performance throughout the tournament, where he played a vital role in getting Argentina to the final, screening the back four superbly and sniffing out danger. He has been mainly playing as a centre-back for his club side - due to the paucity of options as well as his versatility - but this World Cup showed that Mascherano remains one of the finest defensive midfielders in world football.

Barcelona are [6.4] third favourites to win the 2014/15 Champions League


Defensive Midfield: Toni Kroos (Germany)

At 24, Kroos can now add 'World Cup winner' to his burgeoning list of achievements. An irrepressible presence in the German midfield, Kroos was on song throughout the tournament; no-one made more assists than him and his sensible and clever use of the ball as well as his set-piece delivery ensured his countrymen had a constant supply of opportunities to take advantage of. He's off to Real Madrid in time for the start of next season, and at £20m he's cheap at twice the price. Honourable mention to Bastian Schweinsteiger who missed out by just one vote.

Toni Kroos and his new Real Madrid teammates are [5.7] to win next season's Champions League


Attacking Midfield: Arjen Robben (Netherlands) 

We knew all about Robben before the World Cup and the Bayern Munich man did not let us down. Playing at the peak of his powers the 30-year-old was out of the blocks fast, scoring twice in that stunning 5-1 defeat of Spain. Though the goals - three in total - all came in the group stages, Robben's pace and trickery were present throughout and it seemed like he could just drag his team to World Cup victory before he was somewhat nullified by an Argentina that stifled their way to the final. It wasn't to be of course, but Robben returns to Munich with his stock higher than ever and ready to play a key part in a huge tournament for his club. 

Bayern Munich are [5.3] favourites to win the Champions League


Attacking Midfield: James Rodriguez (Colombia)

With the pre-tournament injury to talisman Radamel Falcao, Colombia needed someone to step up to the plate and Rodriguez did so in great style, taking home the Golden Boot with six goals including, probably, the best strike of the tournament with that incredible volley against Uruguay. But it wasn't just the goals - the Monaco man was the driving force for Colombia in that key number 10 role, probing and prompting and creating plenty. Rodriguez has been heavily linked to Real Madrid after his exploits - James, Ronaldo, Bale wouldn't be a bad attacking midfield at the Bernabeu would it?


Attacking Midfield: Lionel Messi (Argentina)

There seems to have been some strange revisionism of Messi's tournament in the wake of his underwhelming performance in the final, but let's not forget that Argentina wouldn't have been there if it wasn't for him. The Barcelona man virtually single handedly dragged them through the group stages with four goals, most of which were belters, and then he played one of the passes of the tournament to assist Angel di Maria's goal against Switzerland in the second round. While Messi was probably lucky to be awarded the official 'Golden Ball' award for best player, there's no doubt he was among the top performers over the length of the tournament. The Opta stats back this up: he created more chances (23) and completed more take-ons (46) than any other player.


Forward: Thomas Muller (Germany)

Thomas Muller is on his way to becoming the greatest World Cup scorer of all time. It really is that simple. A great operator at club level although not a regular starter for Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, something about the World Cup just seems to kick his performances up a notch. With five goals and three assists this summer, he now has 10 goals and six assists in just 13 World Cup games and was a constant threat for every second he featured on the pitch in Brazil. Miroslav Klose may not have that World Cup goal record for long.

Muller's Bayern Munich are currently [1.19] to win next season's Bundesliga


Coach: Jorge Luis Pinto (Costa Rica)

There was, of course, some love shown for winning coach Jogi Low from the writers here but Pinto got the nod due to completely exceeding the expectations of most by guiding Costa Rica to the quarter-finals. Expected to be the whipping boys of Group D, Pinto's men ended up topping the table comfortably after beating Uruguay and Italy in some style before cruising to a draw in a dead rubber against England. A penalty shootout victory over Greece took Los Ticos into the dreamland of the quarter-finals where they were only edged out on penalties by the Dutch. Pinto's superb organisation of his troops, based on a relatively fluid 5-4-1 formation, was the key factor behind their progression.


Did You Know?

With their destruction of Brazil, Germany became the top scoring nation in World Cup history (223), overtaking Brazil in the process. Germany ended the tournament with 224 goals, three ahead of Brazil.

There were more goals scored by substitutes in this World Cup than in any previous edition (32).

Some 13.3% of shots have been scored at these finals; a higher proportion than in any other World Cup tournament since records began in 1966.

England goalkeeper Joe Hart made only one save in two World Cup games.

Source: Opta

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