Football

World Cup: Top 5 stars of Day 17

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The knockout stages of the World Cup began this weekend and they've started in style, with Brazil vs Chile thrilling football fans across the globe.

The two South American sides competed in a full-blooded battle and could not be separated until the last kick of a penalty shoot-out was missed by Gonzalo Jara, to confirm the host's progress to the quarter-finals.

The later game of the day was far more low-key, but Colombia continued with their impressive World Cup campaign so far, knocking out a Uruguay with a solid 2-0 victory.

We now look at the players who starred on day 17 of what has been a gripping World Cup so far.

Alexis Sanchez

Chile were remarkably close to pulling off the impossible. They have never beaten Brazil in their backyard, and they may never come closer than they did in Belo Horizonte.

The Chileans have won over many admirers at this World Cup thanks to their fast-tempo, high-octane, stylish football, but they could not quite beat Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men in-front of their own, expectant crowd.

That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any stand-out performers in the Chile side, though. Indeed, they were the better team for much of the game and one of the major reasons for this was Alexis Sanchez.

The diminutive striker is deceptively strong for his size and wearing his country’s shirt seems to raise his games to new levels. Sanchez was everywhere, scoring, defending and holding the play up. His effort was relentless and it was hard not to feel sorry for him when he did miss his penalty.

Regardless of that fact, Sanchez has been one of the stars at this World Cup so far and his performance today was the best of the bunch. It is just a shame we won't be able to see more of him in the competition.

Arturo Vidal

Arturo Vidal has only gone on to confirm himself as one of the best midfielders in the world in Brazil.

The energetic Juventus man had his preparation for the tournament disrupted by a knee-injury, which required surgery, but he looked on top of his game despite this.

He is pivotal in Chile’s system, with his stamina and restless approach to football enabling him to act as a central-midfielder and as a player who can get forward and support the strikers.

Vidal has already been linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, and his performances at the competition will mean that their fans are hoping that these rumours turn out to be true.

David Luiz

A defender who wears his heart on his sleeve, David Luiz’s game reaches new levels when he is representing his country.

He plays with pride and passion and it serves to improve his performances, with his defending rock solid. Against Chile, he was brilliant defensively and also scored the first penalty in the shoot-out, to set the tone, after netting his first for Brazil in normal-time.

Brazil will be reliant on Luiz continuing this level of performances for the rest of the tournament and will be hoping that he does not make any errors, which he has been prone to doing on occasion in his career so far, if they are to win the competition, as their supporters are demanding.

James Rodriguez

The Colombian forward has established himself as a household name at this World Cup, but it is fair to say his talent was already known about by the footballing world previously.

Rodriguez was bought by Monaco for a whopping €45 million and is only 22-years-old, meaning that this competition could be argued as one where he fulfilled his potential rather than became an emerging star.

Whatever your opinion, his performance against Uruguay was simply incredible. He was the heartbeat of the Colombian side, scoring a spectacular first before adding his second of the game and fifth of the World Cup so far to secure his nation’s progress.

Colombia take on Brazil next and they will be needing Rodriguez to maintain this standard of performance if they are to cause an upset.

Juan Cuadrado

Whilst Rogriguez has taken the headlines for Colombia, he has been supported well by his side-kick, Juan Cuadrado. The mercurial winger has had an impressive season in Serie A with Fiorentina and carried his excellent club form into the World Cup.

Tricky and quick, he is a defender’s nightmare and when he is on form he is a real danger in an attacking sense. His assist for Rodruguez’s second today was excellent and he is becoming a real unsung hero of this Colombian side.

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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.

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