By: Colin Rese
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil seems to have all of the world’s best national teams including all of the very best European and South American national teams.
Given this reality, selecting only 11 players for a Pre-World Cup Best XI is even harder, especially when selecting the attacking players.
Most people would select Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo first, but World Soccer Source selected Thomas Müller over Lionel Messi and Neymar over Cristiano Ronaldo.
Nevertheless, below is World Soccer Source’s Pre-World Cup World Best XI and the rationale behind the selections:
GOALKEEPER: Manuel NEUER (Germany/Bayern Munich)
RIGHT BACK: Daniel ALVES (Brazil/Barcelona)
CENTER BACK: Raphaël VARANE (France/Real Madrid)
CENTER BACK: Thiago SILVA (Brazil/Paris Saint-Germain)
LEFT BACK: MARCELO (Brazil/Real Madrid)
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER: Paul POGBA (France/Juventus)
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER: Arturo VIDAL (Chile/Juventus)
RIGHT ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: Thomas MÜLLER (Germany/Bayern Munich)
CENTRAL ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: OSCAR (Brazil/Chelsea)
LEFT ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: NEYMAR (Brazil/Barcelona)
STRIKER: Mario BALOTELLI (Italy/Milan)
SOME SNUBS: Lionel MESSI, Cristiano RONALDO, Andrea PIRLO, David LUIZ, PAULINHO, RAMIRES, Andrés INIESTA, Sergio BUSQUETS, Franck RIBÉRY, Angelo OGBONNA, Mario GÖTZE, DANTE, Gigi BUFFON, Iker CASILLAS, MAICON, Blaise MATUIDI, Edinson CAVANI, Alexis SÁNCHEZ, Daniele DE ROSSI, Mesut ÖZIL, KAKÁ, Carlos TEVEZ, Giorgio CHIELLINI, Leonardo BONUCCI, Andrea BARZAGLI, Philipp LAHM, Kevin-Prince BOATENG, Jordi ALBA, Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER, Luis SUAREZ, Sergio AGÜERO, Gerard PIQUÉ
Best XI Rationale:
Despite the fact that Neymar is most known for his individual brilliance, dribbling, trickery, and creativity, Neymar is superior to both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in regards to his ability to make his teammates better and help to orchestrate a free-flowing movement of the ball around the field, and this makes Neymar World Football’s greatest player.
Before ever playing for Barcelona and at 21 years old, Neymar absolutely destroyed the competition at the 2013 Confederations Cup, which included Spain, Italy, and Uruguay.
For these reasons and a whole host of others, Neymar makes the Pre-World Cup Best XI instead of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Soccer is a team sport and given the option of selecting Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar or selecting Thomas Müller, Oscar, and Neymar, World Soccer Source would pick the latter option.
Many people would probably select Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Edison Cavani or Carlos Tevez as the Front Six of a Pre-World Cup Best XI, but this writer picks Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal, Thomas Müller, Oscar, Neymar, and Mario Balotelli.
With these six players, you have everything. You have two central midfielders that are so good that their positions really have no names because they provide no much defending, technical quality, running, passing ability, and attacking prowess that they defy all categories.
In front of these two players, Müller, Oscar, and Neymar give you three attacking players that can keep possession with quick passing, dribble through defenses, score with any ball striking technique from close range or from distance, and they can all set up goals.
Given the reality of the skill level and quality of these six players, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo become unnecessary. If one has the world’s best playmaker (Oscar), the most complete and versatile attacker after Neymar (Müller), and the world’s best player (Neymar), then even Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t as impactful as the other three.
Müller eclipsed Barcelona in the 2013 Champions League, and Müller was the very best and most important player on easily the best club team in the world: Bayern Munich. Müller also scored five World Cup goals and provided three assists in the 2010 World Cup when he was 20 years old. Müller has two-footed technical ability, speed, exceptional vision, excellent heading ability, outstanding passing skills, and a facility at scoring goals against any opponent in a variety of ways.
Turning to the defense, Daniel Alves, Raphaël Varane, Thiago Silva, and Marcelo are the very best defenders in the world at their positions, and every single one should be in the World Cup unless there is some unfortunate injury.
While Thiago Silva is widely regarded as the world’s best center back, Varane too is considered to be a totally complete center back with virtually no flaws in his game, which includes the speed to keep pace with essentially any striker or attacker.
The Brazilian outside backs, Daniel Alves and Marcelo, are exceptionally fast outside backs who turn the tables on the opposition by attacking them with gusto and the technical ability of elite attacking midfielders. The Brazilians can navigate their way out of any trouble in the back, and they can bolt down the sidelines so effectively that they disrupt the entire defensive shape and order of the opposition.
Take any 11 footballers and put them up against Manuel Neuer, Daniel Alves, Raphaël Varane, Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal, Thomas Müller, Oscar, Neymar, and Mario Balotelli, and you’ll probably lose, if not for the sole fact that World Soccer Source’s XI has Pogba and Vidal in front of Varane and Thiago Silva and Thomas Müller, Neymar, and Balotelli are attacking your goal with Oscar pulling the strings.