Worst XI of the World Cup knockout stages: Spurs & Chelsea stars feature

Paulinho and Eden Hazard join the likes of David Luiz, Karim Benzema and Edinson Cavani.

Since our last XI, Germany are proud world champions. But, for those who couldn't quite last the distance, they get a brilliant consolation prize: a place in this side...

Vincent Enyeama

The hardest choice in our XI is the very first. Indeed, it is hard to criticise any goalkeeper from the World Cup knockout stages, for all produced memorable saves and commanding displays.

After heavy consideration, it is Enyeama who makes the cut, even though the Nigerian has generally impressed in this tournament. A costly error in judgement allowed France to open the scoring against the Nigerians in the last 16, however, virtually knocking them out of the World Cup in one key moment. Fine margins.

David Luiz

The marauding centre-back received no end of criticism for his reckless performance during Brazil's 7-1 defeat against Germany. And Luiz was no better against the Netherlands in the third-place play-off.

Raphael Varane

Just like Enyeama, it is one moment that warrants a place in our XI for Real Madrid and France defender Varane. One of the most promising defensive talents in world football, the 21-year-old was absolutely bullied by Mats Hummels in the air as the German headed home against the French from a set-piece in the last 16. From thereon in, France's World Cup was all but over.

Rafael Marquez

In true World Cup 2014 fashion, our XI will go with three at the back in an all-out-attack formation. And our third central defender is Mexico's Marquez, who - similarly to Varane and Enyeama - let one moment ruin an otherwise impressive tournament.

After a strong performance in the last 16, Mexico had been pegged back late on by the Netherlands. All they had to do was survive until extra time and regroup. Instead, Arjen Robben came surging into the box and Marquez irresponsibly stuck a leg out. The rest was history as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar slotted home from the penalty spot for the Dutch.


Our first Premier League representative, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho has had a poor tournament overall. And, while the knockout stages exposed Brazil's weaknesses as a whole, the Spurs man failed to show fans anything new as the tournament progressed.

Blaise Matuidi

Usually a reliable technician for France, Matuidi was not at his best during the World Cup knockout stages. The main reason for including the 27-year-old in this XI, though, was his extreme aggression against both Nigeria and Germany. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder could have been sent off on numerous occasions for his side.

Eden Hazard

Another Premier League player to be slated for his World Cup displays, Hazard failed to make the stellar impact many were anticipating while playing for Marc Wilmots's Belgium side.

Much of the Chelsea man's criticism was, in fact, over the top, although the 23-year-old did not live up to expectations, being substituted when it really mattered after a tame performance against Argentina in the quarter-finals.


Like Paulinho, Hulk has had a poor World Cup for Brazil. There was a ray of hope when the Zenit man produced an encouraging performance against Chile. But that soon turned to dust in Brazil's following three knockout games.

Edinson Cavani

At least one Uruguay player had to be included in our XI after the manner in which they were so easily disposed of by Colombia. Given his talent and price-tag, Cavani is the man we have chosen.

After Luis Suarez's suspension for biting Georgio Chiellini, it was up to Cavani to lead the line for his country. One volley of note was all he could produce, however, as he followed up a campaign in which he flopped on the big stage at Stamford Bridge for PSG with a similarly nonthreatening performance for Uruguay.


As static as a lamppost, the Brazilian has now retired from international football. That will be a huge weight off his shoulders - and Brazil's.

Karim Benzema

Completing the front three of our 3-4-3 formation is Real Madrid's Benzema. Much like Cavani, the Frenchman came into the World Cup with a point to prove after being anonymous on the big stage in the Champions League.

Luckily for Benzema, Real Madrid had enough talent to lift the European trophy without a stellar performance from the 26-year-old. France were unable to do the same against Germany, though, and when they needed Benzema most, he seemed to go into hiding.

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