Stats Zone World Cup 2014 Team of the Tournament
Centre-back: Ezequiel Garay (ARG)
Argentina has a long tradition of none-shall-pass centre-backs who are also useful on the ball. The latest standard-bearer is Ezequiel Garay. He may have been a spare part at Real Madrid, eventually leaving as a makeweight in the deal that brought Fabio Coentrao from Benfica, but Garay was literally central to the backline of an Argentina side which only conceded once in seven-and-a-half hours of knockout football.
The 6ft 2in stopper contributed the tournament's most clearances (70) and most headed clearances (43). He also won 20 of his 26 aerial duels – only Daniel van Buyten and Marouane Fellaini won more. Furthermore, he knocked the ball around with confident precision; only 11 players made more passes than his calmly-accrued 321, and his 93.46% completion rate was the most accurate of the tournament's 50 busiest passers.
Garay deserved better than his third final defeat in a little over 12 months after Benfica's back-to-back Europa League runners-up slots. For the €6m fee they agreed with the Portuguese club mid-tournament, Zenit have got themselves a heck of a player.