In one of the most memorable days of the goal-laden World Cup so far, the reigning champions Spain exited the competition at the hands of the brilliantly industrious Chile, Australia gave Holland a real scare but could not stop Louis Van Gaal’s men from securing their second victory of the group-stages and Croatia overcame Cameroon.
We now look at the players who stared for their nations in the three games that took place.
Goalkeeper – Claudio Bravo
It wasn’t a day to remember for most the ‘keepers involved, but Claudio Bravo was the best of the bunch.
The Chilean defence in-front of him ensured that he wasn’t tested as much as he would have expected to have been by Spain’s attack before the match, but what he did was tidy and one save from Andres Iniesta was superb.
Left-back – Daley Blind
One of Holland’s many emerging stars, Blind has looked the pick of the current crop of exciting youngsters coming through.
The Ajax defender was excellent against Spain and carried his fine-form into his nation’s game against Australia today.
He was energetic, creative and efficient throughout and is proving to be a key player for this Holland team, even if he doesn’t have the reputation of one of the bigger stars.
Centre-back – Gary Medel
Gary Medel may have been part of a Cardiff side who were relegated from the Premier League this season, but his international form is admirable.
Utilised as a centre-back, despite his diminutive stature, he is a really tenacious tackler, but he also is comfortable in possession and both those qualities were in full display against Spain.
He was a major reason behind his country’s clean-sheet, and he will be hoping to continue this form in the latter stages.
Centre-back – Dejan Lovren
Despite not being tested much, Dejan Lovren did well when under pressure against Cameroon. He always looked in control of the situation and retained possession well for his side.
He has impressed in his first season in England at Southampton this season, and appears to have taken his club form into the World Cup.
Right-back – Mauricio Isla
For a man that has struggled for first-team football this season, Isla is very impressive.
A true work-man, the Chilean doesn’t stop running and covers the job of a right-back and a right-winger during his side’s game.
He is pivotal to Chile’s attacking system and his tireless performance against Spain was one of the reasons the current champions struggled so badly.
Central midfield – Ivan Perisic
The Wolfsburg midfielder was in fine form for Croatia, dictating the play in his side’s victory over Cameroon.
His passing range is formidable and his assist for Ivica Olic, who opened the scoring, was nothing short of spectacular.
He then went on to score an excellent solo goal, breaking past the Cameroon defence and finishing in style.
Central-midfield – Arturo Vidal
One of the Chilean’s stars, Vidal’s fitness was in-doubt before the tournament kicked-off but he looked at his best today.
He played with real passion and desire throughout, harrying Spain in central areas and getting up in support of his side’s strikers.
If he can continue to play like this for the rest of the competition he will surely add to his burgeoning reputation as one of the best players in his position in the world.
Left-wing – Arjen Robben
The Dutch winger is already regarded as one of the finest players on the planet, but he looks determined to make an impact at this World Cup.
After destroying Spain with his pace, he picked up where he left off, scoring a brilliant individual goal after bursting past the Australian defence to open the scoring in his side’s victory.
Right-wing – Matt Leckie
Australia have impressed during this World Cup, despite not picking up a point as yet, and nobody has caught the eye more than Matt Leckie.
His driving runs and direct style of play has caused top international defences problems and he is unlikely to be playing in the Germany second division, where he currently plays with Frankfurt, for much longer if he keeps performing like this.
Striker – Tim Cahill
Tim Cahill may be one of the older stars at this year’s World Cup, but he has shown that he still has a lot left to give.
His performance against Chile was impressive, but his strike against Holland will surely go down in World Cup history.
He latched on a to a long-ball and rifled the ball home on the volley, showing brilliant technique, and was a protagonist in his nation’s excellent showing.
Striker – Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie may have struggled at club level, for Manchester United this season, but he is certainly enjoying life at the World Cup so far.
His finishing prowess is well known and it was on display once again, as he lashed home his side’s second.
He will be key if Holland are to go far in this competition, but United fans will be optimistic given how well Louis Van Gaal seems to be able to utilise the front-man.
On the bench:
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms