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World Cup: Best XI of the Group Stage

Dan looks at his best XI from the World Cup Group stages, spoilers, no England players feature

Elsa

The World Cup group stages have come and gone, and oh how much fun they were. But now with the brief time we have to stop and reflect before the excitement and drama of the knockout stages commences, I'd like to take a step back, and determine what my XI of the group stage is.

Goalkeeper

Guillermo Ochoa - Mexico

The Mexican goalkeeper has only conceded one goal all tournament, in which has been a brilliant campaign for Mexico, one that didn't seem possible when they just scrambled through qualifying. Ochoa, is the foundation of what has been a solid and exciting Mexican side, and has look assured yet flamboyant through out. His almost inhuman performance against Brazil, will last long in the memory.

Defence

Fabian Johnson - USA

The right back has had a great tournament and has been one of the USA's main threats going forward, with his pace and willingness to run, even in the final minutes of the game, after balls that are deader than dead. This determination would be what lead to America's winning goal against Ghana.

Diego Godin - Uruguay

Uruguay's first game against Costa Rica aside, Godin has been a rock in the centre of defence for Uruguay, his dogged and resolute display against Italy, not to mention scoring the winning goal, was one of the reasons Uruguay got out of the group. He's been one of the best defenders in Europe this season, and he's continued his form into the World Cup.

Rafael Marquez - Mexico

With his experience and ability to marshall and inspiring those around him from the heart of defence, Marquez has been vital for Mexico, despite his age. He may not have the legs he once did, but the Mexican captain knows his role to a tee; to just sit deep in the middle of the three/five man defence and sweep anything that comes his way up, and also to start Mexican attacks with his great range of passing. A performance where he gave Neymar no joy whats so ever and having a hand in two goals against Croatia, are just two highlights.

Daley Blind - Netherlands

I knew deep down Blind was going to have a great tournament, and thus far he is yet to disappoint. Having racked up three assists from defence already, Blind has been really influential for the Dutch, at both ends of the pitch, with his intelligence on the field shinning through.

Midfield

Jermaine Jones - USA

There's no other way to put this other than, Jermaine Jones, has been utterly outstanding for the US. His performances in the holding midfield role have been the reason America have qualified, excellent at breaking up play and starting attacks for his own side, even scoring a magnificent goal to boot.

James Rodriguez - Colombia

James Rodriguez has been the most fun player to watch in the tournament, he's the star of a vibrant and expansive Colombia side, who just love to put smiles on faces. Rodriguez is an extremely skilful and aware player, his array of goals and assists just go to show, my favourite being his wonderfully cheeky goal against Japan, which epitomised his qualities.

Lionel Messi - Argentina

Argentina are yet to fully show up in this tournament, but luckily for them, the little man has dragged them through kicking and screaming. Three wonderful goals and one of predatory instinct has seen Messi prove to many of his doubters that he can perform on the biggest stage of all.

Attack

Arjen Robben - Netherlands

As well as Colombia, the Netherlands have also been a pleasure to watch, and Arjen Robben has been exhilarating. My player of the tournament so far, he's fitted in well to Van Gaal's 352 formation, and his unrivalled pace has lead to many a goal for the Dutch. Robben, looks like a player who belongs, when he plays for the Netherlands.

Karim Benzema - France

Often not credited for being a very intelligent footballer, Benzema has demonstrated on umpteen occasions why he is this summer,  with not only his goals, but with his classy movement and the clever passes he's made. He's had a brilliant World Cup, scoring three times, and it could so easily be more, and is one of the main reasons a lot of people now fancy France to go far in the Cup.

Neymar - Brazil

With the pressure of an entire nation resting firmly on his back, Neymar has not withered under the strain and has stepped up big time to the tournament, proving a lot of his critics wrong. But with four goals already to his name, and the Brazilian team seemingly relying on the 22 year old more and more, that pressure's going to get a whole lot harder as the tournament advances. Lets hope he can keep it up.

Manager

Miguel Herrera -

The Mexico manager has managed to get his squad together and performing in a short space of time, after only getting the job in October of last year, becoming the fourth Mexico manager in a month. He's got his tactics spot on in every game and his goal celebrations have been magnificent. He's one of my highlights of the whole thing.

Substitues:

Keylor Navas - Costa Rica

Ricardo Rodriguez - Switzerland

Philipp Lahm - Germany

Charles Aranguiz - Chile

Juan Cuadrado - Colombia

Thomas Müller - Germany

Enner Valencia - Ecuador

So, who's impressed you this World Cup? Let me know in the comments below!