World Cup 2014: Team of the tournament

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The best XI from the 2014 World Cup, according to Opta stats

The best XI from the 2014 World Cup, according to Opta stats See Gallery

Fans across the planet are sure to have their own opinions on who the top players have been during the scintillating month of football that has been the 2014 World Cup. But who do the stats suggest have been the best XI in Brazil?

Click or swipe to find out a selection based on statistics collected by Opta following the semi-finals, lining up in an attacking 4-5-1 formation.

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Goalkeeper: Tim Howard (USA)

His meme-inspiring heroics during the United States’ Round of 16 defeat to Belgium may have grabbed the headlines, but Howard has had an astonishing tournament as a whole.

The Everton shot-stopper was forced to make a save every 14 minutes on average during the World Cup – more than any other goalkeeper.

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Right back: Dani Alves (Brazil)

Many were surprised when Luiz Felipe Scolari dropped the Barcelona right-back for the quarter-final against Colombia and the semi-final debacle against Germany in favour of Roma’s Maicon.

Ultimately, the stats (and Brazil’s embarrassing exit from the tournament) prove that the embattled Brazil boss made the wrong decision: the Seleção conceded three goals in the four matches Alves played, compared to eight in the two he missed, and only one defender completed more passes in the attacking half than he did (111).

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Centre back: Mats Hummels (Germany)

Germany’s defensive rock unsurprisingly makes the team of the tournament. As well as being the lynchpin of a defence that conceded just four goals in six games, Borussia Dortmund’s Hummels also scored twice as Joachim Löw’s team powered their way to the final.

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Centre back: Stefan de Vrij (Netherlands)

The Feyenoord man has been a revelation in the heart Louis Van Gaal’s much-talked-about back three. No defender has made more interceptions than De Vrij throughout the tournament.

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Left back: Marcos Rojo (Argentina)

All the talk prior to the tournament was about Argentina’s attacking prowess, but Marcos Rojo has been a key part of the defence which has helped propel Alejandro Sabella’s team to the final.

The Sporting Lisbon full-back has made more tackles (17) than any other Argentina defender, as well as creating the most chances from the back (7).

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Central midfield: Toni Kroos (Germany)

One of the most in-demand midfielders on the planet at the moment, Kroos has had a marvellous tournament in Brazil.

The Bayern Munich superstar has completed more passes than any other player in the opposition half of the pitch (295). He has also scored twice and assisted three goals for finalists Germany.

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Central midfield: Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)

Kroos’ Bayern teammate joins him in the centre of midfield, being the star of a Switzerland team who were unable to make it past the Round of 16.

Only Argentina superstar Lionel Messi (21) has created more chances than Shaqiri (17). He also scored the first completely left-footed hat-trick in the World Cup (1966-2014).

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Central midfield: James Rodriguez (Colombia)

Few players’ stock will have risen as much as the Monaco and Colombia man during the course of the tournament.

Currently the top scorer in Brazil, Rodriguez netted his six goals from just nine shots at goal. On top of that, he chipped in with two assists for his Colombian teammates.

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Right wing: Alexis Sánchez (Chile)

The Barcelona winger, who just joined Arsenal, was very much the star of Jorge Sampaoli’s highly praised, attack-minded Chile team.

Sánchez beat an opponent with 22 dribbles in his four appearances for Chile, creating seven goalscoring chances (more than any of his teammates) and scoring two goals.

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Left wing: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia)

While James Rodriguez may have grabbed most of the headlines, Cuadrado’s contribution to Colombia’s excellent World Cup shouldn’t be understated.

The Fiorentina winger has the most assists at the 2014 World Cup to date (4), and also was able to find the net himself once for Colombia.

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Centre forward: Karim Benzema (France)

With no space for the likes of Messi, Müller, Neymar or Robben, the final slot in this Opta-led World Cup XI goes to France striker Karim Benzema.

With star man Franck Ribéry ruled out for the entirety of the tournament, Benzema was able to rise to the occasion and propel Didier Deschamps’ team to the quarter-finals - scoring three goals and assisting two. No other player attempted more shots at the tournament than Benzema (22).