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Coral’s World Cup Best XI from the Group Stage

| 27.06.2014

We are at the business end of the World Cup. It’s been emotional. The tournament has had everything so far. A bit of blood, a fair amount of sweat, and a few tears.

This summer a number of players have been found wanting on the global stage. Those that have survived, well done on getting this far.

Coral’s experts have put together their best XI based on in-depth analysis, reams of statistics, hours of observation and quantifiable algorithms to provide you with the players that have really lit up the World Cup, in a nice bite-size package.



Guillermo Ochoa

A free agent after being released by French Ligue 1 side Ajaccio; the goalkeeper has relished the platform that Brazil has given him to audition for a new club. His performance and heroic exploits against the hosts alone deserves Ochoa being selected in our World Cup XI.

Right Back

Ivory Coast

Serge Aurier

The buccaneering Ivory Coast right back has been linked with Arsenal to replace Bacary Sagna after his move to Manchester City. Aurier has impressed for the Elephants in the Amazon, with his energy and pace. Although the Ivorians’ narrowly missed out on progressing from their group, the player was one highlight of the African nation.


Centre Back

Rafael Marquez

Mexican Marquez is one for one at this World Cup. The ex-Barcelona centre back has conceded a goal, and rolled back the years to head in the Aztecs’ opener, as well as claim the man-of-the-match award against Croatia. Physically strong, his leadership qualities have kept his country’s rearguard in check, and is one of main the reasons Mexico have only conceded a solitary goal. He deserves a mention also, that he is the only defender to score in three World Cups.

Costa Rica

Centre Back

Oscar Duarte

Belonging to the team that has perhaps brought the most amount of fun to the tournament, Costa Rica’s Duarte along with the rest of his teammates have embraced being in Brazil. The 25-year-old centre back’s header against Uruguay catapulted the Club Brugge player into the limelight, and turned him into an overnight national hero.


Left Back

Daley Blind

The assist for Robin van Persie’s first goal against Spain was quite simply out of this world. There is no higher accolade. His left foot produces passes with as much fluidity as the Amazon flows into the Atlantic. Currently at Ajax, the 24-year-old’s perfect performances will have attracted interest from a number of clubs.


Midfield Anchorman

Blaise Matuidi

France’s performances have perhaps been one of the surprises at the World Cup. Although many of their attacking players earned a lot of the plaudits, this is down in part to the Les Bleus having a solid foundation. PSG bruiser Matuidi has been vital, tackling, breaking up play, and putting himself around.


Attacking Midfield

Arjen Robben

Robben stole the show against Spain. Along with Van Persie that is. Pinning the player down to an actual position is the hardest task. Put simply, he scores goals, he creates chances, glides past opponents, splits teams in half. We definitely know he’s not a defender, nor is he a deep lying, central, defensive midfielder. He isn’t a traditional, battering-ram type centre-forward. Striker? Attacker? Winger? No 10? A player of his class deserves a separate tag, probably along with the next four in this team!


Attacking Midfield

James Rodriguez

Same as above, the only difference being that he probably couldn’t play as a lone frontman, unless as the fashionable label; ‘false nine’. Which raises the question, is that technically a ‘no 10’, but with more attacking support? All we know is that this boy can play, oh yes, no doubt about it. His goal against Japan elucidated elegance in footballing finishing. Colombia have their very own Columbo who’s instincts can detect a chance with minimal effort.


Attacking Midfield


Possibly a tad unfair to say he’s an attacking midfielder, but the lad seems a good sport. He’s currently joint top scorer at the World Cup, with four goals, and there seems no sign of him letting up. He will need to be on form against Chile, as they have a number of players who can also make a difference.



Lionel Messi

Not including this man in the team of the World Cup so far, would be like Alan Hansen without Mark Lawrenson. It just wouldn’t make sense. He is currently tied on four goals in Brazil as the joint top scorer, and has basically carried Argentina into the second round of the tournament. This guy can win it on his own, though.



Thomas Muller

Back to the ‘what is his best position debate?’. Literally five words; ‘anywhere near to the goal’. The German, who won the Golden Boot four years ago with five strikes and three assists, is back in contention again, currently joint top with four goals. Practically everything he touches in the penalty area makes the net bulge. Do not be surprised to see him add another Golden Boot award to his list this time round.

There you have it guys, enjoy the rest of the World Cup, and good luck with your bets!



Matt Haynes

A long-suffering Leeds fan, Matt studied Sports Journalism at university, and has a plethora of multi-industry experience. Having worked on behalf of multiple hedge funds and top-tier investment banks in executive search, he has also had a stint with the BBC and the Press Association. Outside of work, he pursues entrepreneurial activities and likes to keep fit.
Although he has interviewed current England manager Roy Hodgson as well as Rafa Benitez and a number of other names, he is honoured to have spent time in the company of Gordon Banks. Matt enjoys cultivating long-lasting professional and personal relationships, is solution orientated, and supports Coral’s sports content provision.