The 2014 World Cup in Brazil saw records broken, shock results and stellar performances from the likes of James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos. Several players produced eye-catching performances, with some earning transfers to top clubs off the back of a strong tournament.
Where are the stars of the 2014 World Cup now?
A lot can change in four years and not all of those who emerged from the last World Cup in a rich vein of form are heading into the next one in the same manner. As the finals in Russia draw ever nearer, let’s take a look at where some of the top names from Brazil 2014 will be this summer.
Not all of the previous World Cup’s standout performers will be heading to this year’s tournament, as several of them have now either retired from international duty or from football altogether. Germany’s tournament winning side boasts several now-retired players such as Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, however Miroslav Klose is the one most worth mentioning. The marksman’s two goals in 2014 saw him become the all-time World Cup top goal-scorer with sixteen across four tournaments, breaking Ronaldo’s previous record of fifteen. Klose continued to play for Lazio for two further seasons after the 2014 tournament, scoring sixteen goals in the 2014-15 season and eight in the 2015-16 season before hanging up his boots and joining the German national team’s coaching staff.
Perhaps the most memorable player of the 2014 World Cup was James Rodriguez. The Colombian attacking midfielder announced himself by winning the golden boot with six goals, including a stunning long range volley that clattered in off the bar against Uruguay. His performances convinced Real Madrid to spend approximately £60 million for his services in July 2014. However, James endured a mixed few seasons at Los Blancos, and never really solidified his place in the team with Isco being preferred to him in the 2016-17 season. James then moved to Bayern Munich in July 2017 on a two-year loan with an option to make the move permanent at the end of the loan period. His form has since improved in Germany this year as he nailed down a starting place and finished the season with seven goals and eleven assists in the league, whilst also scoring against his parent club Real Madrid in the Champions League. He goes into this summer’s tournament on a relative high but is not expected to make as much of an impact as he did in 2014.
Despite being highly-rated, Kroos was in and out of the Bayern side before going into the 2014 World Cup. However, he was one of Germany’s star performers at the tournament producing several excellent performances in the engine room of Joachim Low’s midfield and memorably netting a brace in the famous 7:1 victory over host nation Brazil. The competition served to further his reputation, and again convinced Real Madrid to sign him. Kroos moved to the Spanish capital a few days before James Rodriguez for £20 million. The German has gone from strength to strength since the last World Cup, becoming a key member of the Real midfield, principally alongside Modric and Casemiro, he keeps the Real Madrid team ticking, has an excellent passing range and is capable of scoring the occasional long-range stunner. Kroos goes into this year’s tournament as one of the most revered central midfielders in world football.
Medel moved to Cardiff for a club-record £11 million for the 2013/14 season but failed to keep the Welsh side from avoiding relegation and his individual performances drew little attention from top clubs. However, Medel had an excellent World Cup as part of the surprise package Chile side that beat holders Spain in the group stage and almost knocked out Brazil; the Chileans eventually lost on penalties to the hosts in the round of sixteen. Despite being only 5’7 and usually playing as an aggressive holding midfielder, Medel played as part of a back three and was widely praised for his performances. In August he moved to Inter Milan for £10 million, speaking volumes about his World Cup form having just been relegated with Cardiff. He was a regular in the Inter side for three seasons before moving to Besiktas in August 2017. Medel also enjoyed international success since the world cup, captaining the side on numerous occasions and making the team of the tournament in Chile’s 2015 Copa America triumph.
Costa Rica were another South American side that overperformed in 2014, as they unexpectedly topped their group which included Italy, Uruguay and England. Navas was one of their stand-out players, producing several excellent saves during the group stage games against seasoned forwards such as Wayne Rooney and Diego Forlan. He was then the hero of the round of sixteen game against Greece, again producing acrobatic saves throughout, and sending his side into the quarter finals with the winning save of the game’s eventual penalty shoot-out. His reputation was further improved after another immaculate performance against the Netherlands in the quarter final, but he was unable to prevent Costa Rica exiting the competition after another penalty shoot-out. He was the third player that Real Madrid signed based on an excellent world cup, although he had also impressed during the 2013-14 season for Levante. Navas became the first choice keeper following Casillas’ departure prior to the 2015-16 season, but has had a mixed career for the Spanish giants. He almost transferred to Manchester United as part of a deal to sign David De Gea on deadline day in August 2015, but the paperwork was not completed in time. Ever since Real have been linked with United’s star stopper, and Navas’ reputation has slightly declined due to various mistakes in the recent season especially. He will most likely be Costa Rica’s first choice keeper this summer, but like James, is not expected to light up the competition in quite the same way as in 2014.