The Arsenal goalkeeper had a fine tournament in general, conceding only one goal and making a string of fine saves. His reflex block from Neymar’s header just before half-time in the group game against Brazil was a small contributory factor in the forward’s frustration, but it was against Argentina that he really excelled. His late save to turn Nicolas Otamendi’s header onto the post was spectacular, but the pick of the lot was the double save from Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi just before halftime.
AFP/Getty ImagesJUAN BARRETO
Luis Advincula (Peru)
There wasn’t much complicated about how Peru played. They kept it tight at the back, with two holding midfielders who sat deep, and looked to go direct to Paolo Guerrero. The one player who really broke the lines was Advincula. He burst forward from right back and controlled his flank, even in the semi-final after Peru had been reduced to ten men. He seemed tireless, making the eighth most crosses per game and the tenth most tackles per game of any player in the tournament.
LatinContent/Getty ImagesDaniel Jayo/STR
Jeison Murillo (Colombia)
Colombia was far from its best in this tournament going forward, but it defended well. There were periods of chaos, especially against Argentina, and much of it was the defending of individuals rather than coherent team resistance, but it was effective enough. Murillo featured at the heart of the resistance. He made a tournament high 4.8 interceptions per game, and managed to muscle himself onto a loose ball in the box to score the winner against Brazil.
AFP/Getty ImagesNELSON ALMEIDA
Diego Godin (Uruguay)
Both Godin and his Atletico Madrid teammate Jose Gimenez had excellent tournament at the heart of Uruguay’s defence, but Godin just gets the nod for the excellence of his performance against Chile in the quarter-final. This was a Uruguay team stripped of any creativity by retirement (Diego Forlan), suspension (Luis Suarez) and form (Edinson Cavani), but it still battled its way through conceding only three goals in four games in the tournament. Godin, as the leader of the side, was key to that defiance.
AFP/Getty ImagesMARTIN BERNETTI
Filipe Luis (Brazil)
It was a dire tournament for Brazil and not a great tournament for left-backs in general (Chile used three on its way to the final; Marcos Rojo never entirely impressed for Argentina). Filipe Luis at least offered a reminder of why he was such an important part of Atletico Madrid’s run to the Champions League final. He provided attacking thrust down the left while never losing sight of his defensive responsibilities.
AFP/Getty ImagesLUIS ACOSTA
Carlos Sanchez (Colombia)
The Aston Villa midfielder was suspended for the quarterfinal and how Colombia missed him. He was a colossus at the back of midfield in the group stage, playing with a robust authority that he has never quite demonstrated at club level. He didn’t just break up the play. He initiated attacks after winning possession, driving forward form deep. His neutralisation of Neymar in the 1-0 win over Brazil was the highlight. Colombia might have offered far more of a challenge, if Abel Aguilar had been fit to partner the ruthlessly effective Sanchez.
LatinContent/Getty ImagesAlex Reyes/STR
Charles Aranguiz (Chile)
Aranguiz is like a pressure valve for Chile, a player who adjusts his game and the balance of the midfield according to the nature of the match. He can be either a holding midfielder or an attacking midfielder or sometimes both. He got forward to score two goals against Bolivia, but he played with far more caution in the knockout stages, ensuring that Chile’s pressing and fluidity rarely led to it becoming stretched at the back.
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Lionel Messi (Argentina)
He was good in the group stage but not great. He then exploded in the quarterfinal against Colombia, a game in which the 0-0 score at full time offered little reflection of Argentina’s domination. But it was the semifinal that provided justification for his brilliance. He played probably his best in the national shirt, as he had a part in all six goals without scoring any himself and with one run left two Paraguay defenders neatly stacked on top of each other. A quiet final couldn’t dislodge him after that performance.
LatinContent/Getty ImagesMiguel Tovar/STF
Jorge Valdivia (Chile)
Nobody has ever doubted the talent of the 31-year-old, but his application hasn’t always matched that skill. There are times when he has seemed a player from another era, but, in this tournament, he was superb. He linked the play by feeding passes into the endless overlapping runs of Mauricio Isla from fullback. His best performance probably came in the quarterfinal against Uruguay, as he pulled the defence this way and that before finally laying on the winner for Isla nine minutes from time.
LatinContent/Getty ImagesHector Vivas/STR
Angel Di Maria (Argentina)
After a difficult season at Manchester United, Di Maria began the tournament understandably slowly. After a poor game against Jamaica, when he persistently made poor decisions and got the weight of his passes wrong, he found his form against Colombia, providing a more muscular foil on the left for Messi’s darts on the right. The two goals in the semi-final -- and his cross for the Sergio Aguero header -- were his reward.
AFP/Getty ImagesJUAN MABROMATA
Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
Despite the goals of Eduardo Vargas and Paolo Guerrero, it hasn’t been a great tournament for strikers, with Falcao and Cavani, in particular, nowhere near their best. Sergio Aguero scored three goals, but he never hit top form and didn’t threaten in the final. So, while it may be a slightly sentimental selection, Sanchez gets the vote for his tireless running (despite clearly being fatigued) and for converting the penalty that won the final.