As darkness fell over Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, the curtains were drawn on the 2014 World Cup.

In what was a thrilling feast of football, Germany were crowned champions thanks to a superb Mario Gotze goal in extra-time against Argentina.

It was a goal of fitting quality to end what has been the most entertaining international tournament in some time.

We now take a look at five players who performed best for their nations in Brazil.

5) Javier Mascherano

It may have been Lionel Messi’s artistry that helped Argentina qualify from their group, but from that stage on it Mascherano who played a more crucial part in their progress.

Whilst Messi would not score a goal in the knockout stages, Mascherano was a robust figure in stopping opposition attacks, whilst his passing also helped his side move forward and he was a major reason for the eventual runners-up’s progress to the final.

4) Philipp Lahm

The German captain has been brilliant, whether stationed in central-midfield or at right-back and has gone on to further enhance his reputation as one of the finest players in world football.

Lahm may be small in stature, but there are few players in modern football who have a bigger influence on matches, such is the work-rate of the Bayern Munich star.

He saved his best performance until last, too. He continuously drove forward for Germany and proved to be one of their key attacking outlets in the final against Argentina, but he also ensured he was solid defensively and was part of a rear-guard unit which kept Messi and co quiet.

3) Thomas Muller

Germany’s lack of a world-class striker was a slight concern before the tournament started, but Muller’s goals – combined with some excellent performances from the ageing Miroslav Klose -ensured that this was a potential problem that did not trouble them.

Muller notched five goals in the competition, making him the second-highest scorer, and continued to show his brilliant predatory instincts when a chance came his way.

2) Arjen Robben

Over the course of the World Cup, few players had as big an influence as Robben. Although his supposed diving was the centre of the media’s attention for many of the Netherlands' games, that should not detract from how good his performances were in Brazil.

He tore Spain apart in the first group game and he continued his rampaging brilliance throughout every  game – the pivotal figure in the Dutch attacks. If it wasn’t for Robben, it would have been hard to see Louis van Gaal’s side finishing in third place.

1) James Rodriguez

This tournament may be forever remembered as the one where Rodriguez emerged as a household name.

The Colombian finished as the top scorer, but just focusing simply on his goalscoring feats does not do justice to his overall performances.

The 22-year-old was inspirational, driving forward with pace and purpose every time he got possession of the football and already he has been linked with a move to Real Madrid as a result.

Although Colombia may not have reached the final after exiting to Brazil in the quarter-finals, they did have the star of the tournament in their side.

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