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Spiers on Sport: my World Cup XI

Here's my team of the tournament, in 4-2-3-1 formation, managed by Holland's - and now Manchester United's - Louis Van Gaal:

Manuel Neuer (Germany):

Many have gone for Keylor Navas as the tournament's best goalkeeper, especially given his heroics against Holland in the round of 16. But Neuer clinches his spot in my XI, given that he can play as an outfield deep-lying sweeper, as he showed against Algeria and USA, never mind his agility and safe hands. One of Bayern Munich's many great prizes.

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Philipp Lahm (Germany)

Hardly an original pick, but Lahm's endless ability to run and forage and piece Germany's play together makes him unmissable for me. Also, he gives me the option of a right-back, his original position, even though both Lahm himself and Joachim Low currently prefer him to operate in midfield.

Mats Hummels (Germany)

He is a rock, he is immense. Hummels' goal thrust Germany into the semi-finals, but that apart, he has a physical presence and game-intelligence about him to be one of Germany's greatest assets. In Sunday's final against Argentina Hummels again shut the German gate at the back, causing Messi and co much frustration.

Hector Moreno (Mexico)

Suffered a leg-fracture against Holland, but until then had been Mexico's rock and one of the World Cup's best defenders. A courageous player, Moreno's commitment was never more apparent than in the 0-0 draw over regulation against Brazil, when Neymar failed to get the better of him. At 26, it will be strange if Moreno does not get a big move sooner or later from Espanyol.

Marcelo (Brazil)

Maybe against my better judgement, I'm sticking by Marcelo, despite Brazil's ultimate humiliation, not to mention his occasional forays into all the wrong places on the park. Earlier in the tournament he was a dream full-back for Luiz Felipe Scolari, with his mix of comfort on the ball, aggression, and attacking instinct. It all went wrong for the hosts, but Marcelo, for me, is still a remarkable left-back.

Wesley Sneijder (Holland)

The warrior-midfielder is said to be past his best since moving to Galatasaray in Turkey, and it's true that Sneijder started slowly at this World Cup. But then he rose to it, rescuing Holland with a dramatic late equaliser against Mexico before being an eminent force in their quarter-final tussle with Costa Rica. Still a hard, fine player.

Javier Mascherano (Argentina)

Has not gone without his critics, but not over the past four weeks in Brazil. The 30-year-old has played at the heart of Argentina's midfield, foraging forward when he can, or being the midfield anchor when the job required. In the semi final against Holland Mascherano had the nerve to lunge and make timely tackles against Arjen Robben when the Dutch attacker was threatening to run riot. A magnificent player.

Alexis Sanchez (Chile)

One of the undoubted stars of the World Cup, and a man who is said to have caused Santi Cazorla, Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta to cheer to the rafters at Arsenal's training camp when news of his £30m transfer to north London was confirmed last week. A player who produces work and toil along with skill, it is no wonder Arsene Wenger has landed him from Barcelona. (I've shifted Thomas Muller to the left, in order to play Sanchez on the right).

Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Not been his best - and his father claims he has been tired - but how do you leave him out? Has still been very significant for Argentina, scoring four goals to edge them to the final, and been a prime mover in his team's acts of destruction in the final third. Even without the ball, Messi pulls defenders out of position, creating fresh avenues to goal. The ultimate accolade: he is "one of the greatest ever seen".

Thomas Muller (Germany)

Die Mannschaft's greatest weapon? Probably. Given Germany's steady march, Muller is another who is impossible to omit. Still just 24, starring for a second time in a World Cup, dominant for Germany against both Portugal and the USA, he is seemingly relentless. On this form, what coach in the world would not want Thomas Muller?

James Rodriguez (Colombia)

Having been bought last summer for over £40m by Monaco, it's been a slight surprise that the world has been surprised by the electric Rodriguez. He is a must in anyone's World Cup XI, having initially helped Colombia romp through the group-stage, and scoring 6 goals with plenty of assists in all. Has been a thoroughly eye-catching striker.

Do you agree with Graham's selection? Post your team in the comments box below. Our standard forum rules apply.

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