The World Cup is no farther than a couple of days away and yet here we are, being subjected to injuries and pull-outs, continuously downsizing the quality of players we may stand to witness at the grandest stage in world football. Frank Ribery and Marco Reus, are two of the latest additions to the injury list who will be giving Brazil a miss and it is saddening that such talented players aren’t able to participate due to such unfortunate circumstances.
As we see more players coming out, let us refresh from that and look at the best Europe XI in the World Cup.
In all essence, Germany look the most balanced squad on paper, and I am citing them to be ahead of Brazil. Their custodian at the back, is perhaps the best in the world. Having upstaged Rene Adler in the 2010 World Cup, he has retained his position ever since and has delivered some stunning performances, to say the least. Although not expressed, Manuel Neuer’s skills at the back are widely comparable to Oliver Kahn, one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of the game. Known for his excellent reflexes and composure in one-on-one situations, no keeper can outscore Manuel Neuer for the No.1 position.
Once again, a Bayern Munich player gets into this team, and could potentially be the captain. Philipp Lahm is a player who has been devoid of any real recognition in the form of awards or honours, yet he puts in excellent performances every other day, constant like the North Star. In what was a Bayern filled with bouts of inconsistency this season, Lahm remained the lone constant. Described by Guardiola as the most intelligent player he had ever seen, Lahm is the archetype of the modern right back with faultless performances and a complete understanding of the game and its demands.
When you look back and see that he was bought for a paltry 6 mn, you would realize it was one of the biggest bargains in recent times. A defender who leads his team by example, Kompany is a rock at the back. Having been awarded the PFA Player of the year once, he has been one of the best players in Manchester City and the club owes a lot of their success to this Belgian. Leading Belgium, he would be expected to guide his nation to a commendable performance at the World Cup and is sure a contender to win the Golden Ball.
Two headers against Bayern Munich and a goal to save the team from the jaws of defeat with two minutes to go in the Champions League final. How better can life get? Well, that’s where Ramos is right now, over the moon. His recent form has been excellent with him being high on confidence. After achieving the long-obsessed dream of La Decima, Sergio Ramos has found a new lease of life with a second World cup to win. Known for his incredible aerial ability and profound ball-playing skills, Ramos has all it takes to stop the best strikers in the world with next to no effort.
Well, this might come down as a bit of a shocker considering that there are many established center backs playing for European nations in the World Cup. However, Luke Shaw has been the most impressive in the past season and definitely warrants a place in the side ahead of Leighton Baines. Being at Southampton has been helpful as he has been noticed quite a lot, while that wouldn’t have been the case at other clubs where full-backs often are underrated. His pace and stamina coupled with good attacking skills make him a player suited to the needs of the present game, and therein lies his biggest strength.
Another player from Real Madrid makes the list and this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, honestly speaking. The quality is there for us to see and has been so all season. Possessing a distinct facial likeliness to Johan Cryuff, Luka Modric plays admirably well at Real Madrid. He has been praised for his excellent ability with the ball at his feet and accomplished passing range. With Xabi Alonso becoming inconsistent and Khedira sustaining a long-term injury, Modric ran the show at Real Madrid alongside the able support of Di Maria and has become one of the most impressive playmakers in the world. Croatia could spring a surprise or two with him at the helm of affairs.
The ability he has and the way he plays, he would upstage Xavi in the Spanish national team, for good. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but that’s what he is. He receives the ball, he looks out for a teammate and he finds his man. And that’s what he is good at doing. He dominates possession and is the heart and soul of Bayern’s possession-based game. He is the complete package in midfield and has all the necessary armour to become one of the greatest players Bayern has ever seen. Deceptively good pace, composed passing and a devastating shot comprises one of the most complete midfielders in the world that can take the World Cup by storm.
I needn’t give much of an introduction to bring out the player that Cristiano Ronaldo is. One of the foremost players in contention for the Golden Boot as well as the Golden Ball, Ronaldo is expected to deliver in this World Cup. Leading his team to a heart-breaking semifinal loss in Euro 2012, Cristiano Ronaldo knows what it takes to recreate the same feat in Brazil or even better it. He is off an incredible run of form after winning the Champions League with the record of being the highest scorer ever, and that should carry on to the World Cup.
Long known as Spain’s answer to Zinedine Zidane, Iniesta has his name writ in gold in the history books for that memorable goal against the Netherlands four years ago. He played an excellent tournament then and the same could be expected of him this time as well. Famed for his passing and incredible skills with the ball at his feet, Iniesta is a player who could conjure a magical touch out of nowhere leaving the opposition and spectators stunned alike. He surely is one of the main contenders for the player of the tournament.
The only Chelsea player in this list, Hazard seemingly gets better by the day. Even as a 19-year old kid, he was regarded by Zidane as a special player. True to that, he has lived up and become one of the world’s best wingers. Although Jose Mourinho has questioned his commitment defensively, Hazard has been excellent going forward and would be invaluable to Belgium at Brazil. Possessing two gifted feet, Hazard’s versatility coupled with clever movement has proved to be his greatest asset.
He was Germany’s Golden Boy back in 2010 at South Africa. And I’m pretty sure he still is. Though there may have been a lot of young stars injected into the squad, none really match up to the level of Thomas Muller or the impact he created. One of the most mobile strikers you could find, he gets into space by hook or crook. At the end of the day, he wouldn’t have been the flashiest of players but would get the job done for you. Essentially, Mario Gomez’s exclusion might have been done with Muller in Loew’s mind. For all the reputed forwards there are in Europe, Muller strikes the gold when it comes his way better than anyone else.