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Ranked! The best 10 Players of USA '94

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7. Marcio Santos, Brazil

The tendency has always been to deride Brazilian defenders, but there was nothing naive or flamboyant about Marcio Santos, a dominant centre-back who won ball after ball in the air but also had sufficient awareness of the geometry of the pitch to lay the ball off intelligently.

He contributed a memorable toppling header in the 3-0 win over Cameroon, but perhaps his best game came against the USA, holding the side together after Leonardo had been sent off for an elbow on Tab Ramos: one of five clean sheets Brazil kept in the tournament.

6. Paolo Maldini, Italy

As age caught up with the great Franco Baresi, another AC Milan defender emerged as Italy’s colossus. Left limping on the wing in the 1-0 defeat of Norway, he was forced into the middle to replace Baresi at centre-back in the group game against Mexico, but on his 26th birthday he performed with all his customary elegance, despite an injured ankle.

This was the bright side of Italian defending, not cynical or violent, but based on an acute understanding of angles: defending as mathematics, as art. He captained the side through to the final, when Baresi returned.

5. Dunga, Brazil

Others may have been more eye-catching, but no-one was as important in the triumphant Brazil side as Dunga. He was as far removed as it possible to be from the popular stereotype of the Brazilian player: a hard-working grafter a world away from Falcao and Toninho Cerezo, the deep-lying midfielders of 12 years earlier.

His gift was not for tricks or elegant long passing, but for discipline, positioning and the enforcement of coach Parreira’s decidedly unromantic philosophy. He was the enforcer, the facilitator, and when he took the captaincy from Rai, who had had a poor season with PSG, the squad went with him.