Stats Zone World Cup 2014 Team of the Tournament
Left-back: Daley Blind (NED)
Like Lahm on the other side, Daley Blind's extended skillset enabled his manager to deploy him in a variety of roles. He proved himself capable of replacing the injured Nigel De Jong in defensive midfield – where he spent much of last season at Ajax, extending his knowledge – and as the left-sided centre-back during the semi-final against Argentina. But he was of most use in the position that demands the widest array of abilities: full-back.
This was a tournament of excellent left-backs – Brazil's Marcelo created the most chances, Argentina's Marcos Rojo whipped in an extraordinary 29 crosses in open play, while Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez and Belgium's Jan Vertonghen also impressed – but Blind's versatility and all-round play caught the eye.
He made 22 tackles – the third highest among full-backs behind Argentina's Pablo Zabaleta (24) and Costa Rica's Cristian Gamboa (23) – plus 12 interceptions and 16 clearances. His pass total of 342 was topped by only nine players. He created eight chance, making three assists – only Juan Cuadrado (4) contributed more – and showed with his calm finish in the third-place play-off that he can score, too, even if it was his first goal on his 19th appearance. If he is given licence to roam up that left flank, the Dutch can expect more goals to come from that side.