Sunday 21 December 2014

Five of the best players of the 2014 World Cup so far

Anita McSorley

Published 15/06/2014 | 20:18

Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie were in top form during the 5-1 drubbing of Spain
Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie were in top form during the 5-1 drubbing of Spain

Not every team has played their opening World Cup game yet, but already a number of players have showcased their talents with outstanding performances.

The Netherland’s arguably gave the most complete performance of the tournament thus far with their dismantling of Spain, with Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben the chief architects in their downfall.

Andrea Pirlo has added to his reputation, if that is possible, with another virtuoso display against England and here are the five star players at the early stages of the competition.

Neymar (Brazil)

The 22-year-old striker stole the show for Brazil when they came from behind to open the World Cup with a 3-1 victory over Croatia.

The Barcelona forward found the net either side of half-time, after Marcelo scored an early own goal.

His first goal was a low, sweeping effort that crept into the net from 25 yards while his second, 19 minutes before the end, was the conversion of a penalty.

Doesn’t appear to be burdened by the heavy weight of expectations on his shoulders.

Ajen Robben (The Netherlands)

The Netherlands star scored twice with ease in his side’s 5-1 mauling of Spain and was a thorn in the side of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos.

Robben’s second stunning goal of the night came after he ran out defender Salvador Ramos before gliding around the Spanish keeper to hit the back of the net.

The 30-year-old also set a new record as his 37-kilometre sprint was the fastest ever recorded by Fifa during a match.

Raheem Sterling (England)

Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling made a stand-out contribution for England after he was selected to start ahead of the Italy game.

The 19-year-old striker played with a perfect mix of skill and balance to keep the Italian defence on their toes throughout the game.

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Despite finishing on the losing side, fully justified Roy Hodgson’s faith with a starting spot.

Andrea Pirlo (Italy)

Andrea Pirlo was instrumental in the middle of the park for Italy’s 2-1 victory over England.

Statistics from the game show that the Juventus midfielder made more passes on his own that Hodgson’s entire midfield quartet.

Most of the 35-year-old’s passes glided effortlessly through key defenders and he came close to scoring late on with a brilliant swerving free kick that thumped the bar.

Robin van Persie (Netherlands)

Robin van Persie scored twice for the Dutch side that trashed current holders Spain.

As well as scoring the first half equaliser, in the 44th minute, the Manchester United player also scored what is arguably the best goal of the World Cup so far.

In an incredible diving header the 30-year-old rammed the ball into the goal, humiliating experienced Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas.

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