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Bayern High Five: Top Performers of the World Cup Group Stage

The class Bayern players have already shown have consumed much of the World Cup, which should continue as the Rekordmeister engulfs the knockout stage

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Even though the tournament is still in its infancy, this has been Bayern München's World Cup to shine. Sending 14 players is one thing, but having those players score a tenth of the goals in the World Cup reiterates the international standing of Germany's greatest club.

Both hat tricks in the World Cup have been from Bayern players, and the only club that has a goal total that is close to Bayern's 13 is Barcelona, who have scored nine thanks to Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Alexis Sanchez. Bayern players have yet to even pick up a measly yellow card.

The tournament is not close to over yet either, 12 of the 14 players advancing to the knockout stages of the tournament. Here's the top performances of the group stage that got a majority of them into the Round of 16.

Bayern High Five

1. Arjen Robben Netherlands

With a disjointed UEFA European Championship two years ago, Robben and the Netherlands were a popular pick to go out of the group stage. The antithesis happened, Robben scoring two goals against Spain and a goal against Australia to secure a spot for the Dutch in the knockout stages. The second striker spot has suited him swimmingly, Louis van Gaal relieving Robben from a required defensive role. Robben has been devastating on the break, dribbling circles around opposing defenses. His contributions assuaged the attacking pressure for the Dutch, and the combination with Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder will be key for the Netherlands if they wish to mirror the run they had in 2010.

2. Thomas Müller

Playing without an out-and-out striker has not been a problem for Joachim Löw, and the single reason for that has been Müller. Sure, one of his goals four goals was a penalty kick, but his runs in the 18-yard box and his adaptive service from the flanks has driven Germany to the top of the group of death. Whether his impact is the same when the space is compacted is a question, but it is one that will not need to be answered until the final stages of the tournament. Miroslav Klose is getting a lot of press for tying Ronaldo's record for World Cup goals, but with nine himself in nine starts, Müller is in the conversation as well.

3. Toni Kroos

Playing as the deep-lying playmaker in Löw's midfield three, Kroos has translated his club success in his country's colors. He was effective at both ends of the pitch against Portugal, assisting one of Thomas Müller's goals, and he dictated in the group clinching victory over the United States. His 290 passes is the most of any player at the World Cup, distributing at a rate of 93.1 percent and completing 36 of his 38 long ball attempts (via He has also completed eight tackles while committing one foul, an aspect essential to protecting Germany's back. Kroos is a major part of the best midfield left in the World Cup, an advantage that could see Germany advance to their third consecutive World Cup semifinal.

4. Daniel van Buyten

Mark Wilmots has fully utilized the defensive talent in his squad, and at the heart of his set up was van Buyten. Paired with Vincent Kompany, the 36-year-old was showed Bayern what they would be missing with his departure, a rock in defense that kept the ball out of the back of the net. He was notable in Belgium's first victory against Algeria, winning every ball he went up for while helping Belgium keep possession. He was imperative to the clean sheets Belgium kept against Russia and South Korea, often called upon to cover the opposition's target man. His performance has earned him a spot in Wilmots' defense, and hopefully he can continue his form in his last World Cup.

5. Xherdan Shaqiri Switzerland

Hard to believe that a player that scores a hat trick is not at the top of the list, but that is how polar opposite his other two performances were. His opening performance against Ecuador was good, linking up well with his teammates and challenging Alexander Dominguez in goal, but his showing against France was on par with the lost day for the Swiss team as a whole. Ottmar Hitzfeld then took Shaqiri's shackles off, and released the Shaq attack against Honduras to secure the group win. His breaks with Drmic were Robben-esque, and his opening goal might be one of the best ones of the tournament. His World Cup may have an expiration date, but he has already exposed his potential to many onlookers interested in his skill set.

The Rest

Mario Mandzukic had a polarizing World Cup as well, playing just two games for Croatia after his red card suspension against Brazil. He took advantage of Alex Song's red card, scoring twice in the second half to squash Cameroon's spirits, then he was nowhere to be found against Mexico, touching the ball just 18 times.

Mario Götze scored a goal too for Germany, playing as part of Löw's flexible front with Müller and Mesut Özil. Philipp Lahm played all three games in midfield for Germany, blanketing Mats Hummels and Per Mertesacker while also pushing forward on occasion. Jerome Boateng took over the right back position in his stead, doing an effective job going forward while keeping the back compact. Manuel Neuer played all four games in goal after entering the tournament with questions about his shoulder, while Bastian Schweinsteiger made just one start, spelling Khedira in Germany's final game against the United States.

Javi Martínez played just one match, starting in center defense next to Sergio Ramos in Spain's 0-2 defeat to Chile. He was pulled out of position in Eduardo Vargas's opening goal, and he struggled with Chile's counter attack.

Dante and Julian Green did not see the field during the group stage, but both of their countries advanced to the knockout stage. Thiago Silva and David Luiz manned the center of Brazil's defense as they went unbeaten in the group stage, although Thiago Silva received a yellow card, providing an opportunity for Dante to break into the starting XI. Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya and Brad Davis manned the flanks, with DeAndre Yedlin the change-of-pace player Jürgen Klinsmann utilized off the bench.

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