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Thursday, June 26, 2014

The FIFA World Cup Team of Day 14 Thread For 6/25/14: Lead By The X-Man



It takes quite the achievement to top Lionel Messi on a day where he scores two goals at a World Cup, but that is what one young exciting Swiss has done.

Xherdan Shaqiri's hat trick makes him the standout player of Day 14.

Messi's two latest goals were matched in the same game by 21-year old Nigeria rising force Ahmed Musa, who was at his best against Argentina and showed why he is one of African football's luminous talents.

Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic had fine departures to a World Cup that surely will not hurt their reputations. They earned the goals their performances in the previous two matches warranted and will be a major part in a Bosnia side that will be tough in Euro 2016.  

While Shaqiri got all the praise, Gokhan Inler's captaincy to a Swiss revenge victory over Honduras four years in the making shouldn't be overlooked. The Napoli man showed his underrated value with another solid display in midfield, including delivering the key pass for Josip Drmic simple set up for Shaqiri's second.

It was a battle at left back for the nod, but PSG nascent defender Lucas Digne barely beat out Ricardo Rodriguez. The Wolfsburg star made a terrific goaline clearing effort on Jery Bengtson's "should have been a goal" effort that proved to be huge as Switzerland maintained a mental edge over not letting a change in goal differential energized an Ecuador side at the same time.

That thankfully didn't come to pass for Ottmar Hitzfeld's side, who saw Fabian Schar exhibited why he should have started from the get-go this tournament as most expected. The 22-year-old exhibited a calm, steady performance as his partner Johan Djourou was the one susceptible to giving Honduras Bengtson's near goal effort and their penalty claim with his silly bump on Jerry Palacios.

Laurent Koscielny maybe is still surprised to see himself not start for France in this tournament, but his solid display against a desperate Ecuador team with the on-fire Enner Valencia showed how Didier Deschamps has the best backup centerback in the tournament by a mile. And he may likely be called upon to start against Nigeria after Mamadou Sakho's elbow is reviewed by FIFA.

Joining his well known star teammates Dzeko and Pjanic is Bosnian rightback Avdija Vrsajevic, who scored his first international goal today against Iran and made great runs from the back throughout the days. The Hajduk Split man should have had a brace, as he missed a great chance in the first half set up by Dzeko that he duly corrected in the second half with a fine finish.  

The final man apart of Day 14's Best XI was Ecuador's Alexander Dominguez, who did his best to keep his country in the Wold Cup with save after save against a potent French side. It was Dominguez's best performance for Ecuador and could see him leave Quito for a bigger club elsewhere in July or August.

(Coverage of the final day of group play will be start late today before the Group G finales).

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