Everyone has an opinion. Not everybody can back them up with facts. That's one of the reasons for Stats Zone, FourFourTwo's Opta-powered data analysis tool which is free on iOS and freely available on your browser.
With that in mind, FourFourTwo's writers – who covered and analysed every single match at the World Cup using Stats Zone – got together with Opta's diligent fact-finders to separate hype from humble brilliance. The result is an XI that reflects a fascinating World Cup with factual back-up. Enjoy... and if you must argue, there's chance to do so at the end...
Many thanks to Opta and particularly Duncan Alexander
Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer (GER)
Overall, Tim Howard made the most saves at this World Cup, but 15 of his 27 came in that one remarkable game against Belgium. And Keylor Navas had a higher percentage of shots saved, with a startling 91.3% – stopping 21 of the 23 accurate efforts on his goal, a total beyond the reach of Joe Hart (6 shots on target, 1 save).
But always present in the background is Neuer. He made the second-most saves (24) and had the second-highest save percentage (85.19%). Throughout the tournament he was crucial: he saved 6 of Ghana's 8 accurate efforts, to secure a vital group-stage point; 3 of Algeria's 4 to see Germany into the quarter-finals, where he saved all of France's 5 – more than Germany managed; even in that remarkable semi-final he saved 7 of Brazil's 8 accurate attempts (compared to Julio Cesar's 3 of 10).
He was also quietly key to Germany's tactics. Despite having a somewhat one-paced defence, Jogi Löw's team could compress the midfield because their sweeper-keeper was usually there to tidy up and recycle the ball; his pass total of 170 was eight more than Neymar managed. Besides, if you argue with him, he may just come flying towards you knee-first – and he'll get the free kick, because he's a goalkeeper.