World Cup 2014: The team of the first round

Who has impressed in the opening week of the World Cup?

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

The first round of games is complete, everybody's played once, and some folks are doing better than others. Here are SBN's entirely official stand-out players of the first round, calculated according to a super-powerful algorithm that we'd love to share with you, but NASA won't let us.

GK: Keylor Navas, Costa Rica

(Note for any Mexicans reading: despite FIFA's best efforts to screw-up the scheduling, Guillermo Ochoa's masterclass against Brazil counts as part of the second round of fixtures. Tune in next week to see if he makes the cut!)

While Costa Rica's win over Uruguay ended up looking surprisingly comfortable, it could have all been very different. With half-time approaching and Uruguay leading, a Diego Forlan shot took a positively evil deflection and looked a certainty to send the Costa Ricans in to the dressing room with a perhaps insurmountable deficit. Enter Keylor Navas, who shifted his weight and scrambled back to his line, just managing to tip the ball over the bar. Possibly the save of the tournament so far, and the basis for what, in any other World Cup, would surely be the standout shock of the first round ...

DL: Daley Blind, Netherlands

... but this isn't any other World Cup. Though he's been most recently used in midfield by his club, Blind was the key to Louis van Gaal's act of tactical sorcery that completely unstitched the holders. Given reign to charge up and down the left flank, he spent his game firing pinpoint passes into the huge spaces between and behind Spain's centre-backs. Admittedly, it helps to have the left foot of Arjen Robben and the head of Robin van Persie to aim at, but it was still a fine performance. Cue transfer rumours.

DC: Mats Hummels, Germany

It's not been a great World Cup for the heart of defence. 49 goals tells its own story, as does the fact that Chile, catching the mood of the tournament, decided not to bother with centre-backs at all. So while Hummels didn't have much defending to do against a ragged Portugal side, and even though he limped off with twenty minutes remaining, he's won his place purely on the basis that he scored a very nice header. And that's what Brazil 2014 is all about.

DC: Joel Veltman, Netherlands

Arguably the funniest moment of the 5-1 came right at the very end, as Fernando Torres, clean through and with only the most minor of formalities to complete, failed to score an injury-time consolation. It owed a lot to Torres' own ongoing struggles with the agonies of human existence, yes, but also to a wonderful covering tackle from Ajax's young Joel Veltman, who'd only been on the pitch a few minutes. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank him formally.

DR: Mehdi Mostefa, Algeria

Eden Hazard is very good at football. Therefore, by simple inference, anybody that keeps him quiet is playing football quite good. Er, well. Anyway, Algeria did brilliantly well to stifle Belgium down both flanks, and Mostefa, directly matched against Hazard, acquitted himself excellently against the best the Premier League had to offer.

MC: Jermaine Jones, USA

Shunted out wide immediately following Dempsey's 29-second goal, Jones ended up doing the work of two men, supporting the attack when necessary, defending heroically, and tucking into midfield when the USA had the ball. Michael Bradley, his feted colleague, had an unusually quiet game by his own high standards; Jones, by contrast, exceeded anything that could reasonably be asked of him.

MC: Fernando Gago, Argentina

The first of our game-changing substitutes. In essence, Argentina's job is to get to ball to Messi in useful places. Before the introduction of Gago (and Gonzalo Higuain) they were failing miserably, but once the Boca Juniors man came on to unobtrusively-yet-effectively tidy things up in midfield, they started to click. Expect to see more of him as the tournament progresses.

AML: Dries Mertens, Belgium

Our other sub. Though he might not have the profile of his Premier League superstar colleagues, the introduction of Mertens was the first step in Belgium wrenching control of the game back from a well-organised, feisty Algeria. His pace and direct running started to expose the Algerian defence, and he added the winning goal with a thumping finish from the right (yes, that's the other side, shut up) to cap off a fine break.

AMC: Thomas Müller, Germany

A proper crap hat-trick, in the great tradition of Germans called Müller who don't look remotely like footballers. Hang around in the box, let the ball bounce off you, maybe add a penalty if one happens along. It must be a skill. It must be. He can't just be standing about trying to look inconspicuous, can he? Made a bit of a berk of himself when Pepe wafted an arm in his general direction, mind, but we can forgive that. If he hadn't, we'd never have got the lean-nuzzle.

AMR: Arjen Robben, Netherlands

Football, at heart, is a simple game. If you can tell the ball what to do, you'll do alright. If you can tell the ball what to do at speed, you'll do brilliantly. And that's what Robben did, over and over again, while all around him Spaniards were flinging themselves to the floor in confusion and despair. He looks in ominous form.

FC: Robin van Persie, Netherlands

With apologies to Joel Campbell, Karim Benzema and even the cameo-making Didier Drogba, It couldn't really be anybody else. A goal of quite outrageous improvisation, both mental and physical, set the tone for his side's steamrollering of the Spanish and surely wrapped up the goal of the tournament award. Later he nicked another thanks to a fine piece of striking opportunism, and spent the time between the two rattling the crossbar and co-starring in one of the worst high-fives we've ever seen.

Worst XI

Just for fun, like: Iker Casillas (ESP); DaMarcus Beasley (USA), Pepe (POR), Sergio Ramos (ESP), Maxi Pereira (URU); Paulinho (BRA), Wilson Palacios (HON), Steven Gerrard (ENG); Wayne Rooney (ENG), Fred (BRA), Cristiano Ronaldo (POR)

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