Individual prizes are invariably reserved for attacking players. Brazil 2014 has nevertheless strayed from that script over the past week. Indeed, six of the last 16 Budweiser Man of the Match Awards have gone to goalkeepers. One of them has seized two.
Keylor Navas, despite his rapid reflexes having frustrated the likes of Diego Costa and Lionel Messi in La Liga’s title race, somehow arrived in Brazil amid minimal hype. Yet he has swiftly wowed the masses and, after narrowly missing out on the Man of the Match Award in Costa Rica’s upsets of Uruguay and Italy, Navas won it for his displays in the goalless draw with England and the Round-of-16 elimination of Greece, in which he inspired the ten-man Ticos to a shootout victory.
Mexico may have suffered 11th-hour heartbreak against the Netherlands on Sunday, but Guillermo Ochoa, who produced two breathtaking saves in Fortaleza, did receive the small consolation of his second Man of the Match Award of the tournament.
Gianluigi Buffon and Alexander Dominguez also picked up the individual prize as their teams crashed out. The former was rewarded for an infallible showing in Italy’s 1-0 loss to Uruguay, while the latter dazzled as ten-man Ecuador drew 0-0 with hitherto free-scoring France.
Julio Cesar is the remaining keeper to have collected the Man of the Match Award over the past week. The 34-year-old made a stupefying save from Charles Aranguiz during the 120 minutes which failed to separate Brazil and Chile, before repelling two penalties to help the hosts win the shootout.
Only two men have picked up three Man of the Match Awards, and both are attacking players. Argentina’s Lionel Messi completed his hat-trick of gongs for a two-goal performance against Nigeria, while James Rodriguez following suit by scoring twice in Colombia’s 2-0 win over Uruguay in the Round of 16.
* Make your vote count*
To help your favourite stars win the vote, all you have to do is visit the Budweiser Man of the Match section at the Global Stadium (available at FIFA.com, FIFA’s official Twitter account and the official Brazil 2014 app) from half-time onwards and select the player you think has outshone the rest. You have until the end of the match to cast your vote.