Joel Richards and Rupert Fryer pick out their best XI from the Copa America group stage.

Goalkeeper

Name: Sergio Romero

Age: 24

Team: Argentina

Club: AZ Alkmaar

Just weeks before the Copa America kicked off, it seemed certain that Juan Pablo Carrizo would be the first choice for Argentina. Carrizo was even handed the number one squad number. But then River Plate went down, Carrizo's confidence was shot and Sergio Romero emerged as first choice. He fully justified Batista's decision with his performances, particularly with a brilliant save against Bolivia with the game at 1-0, which effectively avoided a day one defeat and complicating qualification for the next phase.

Defenders

Name: Oswaldo Vizcarrondo

Age: 27

Team: Venezuela

Club: Deportivo Anzoategui

The big defender's performance against Brazil alone was probably enough to earn him a place in any team of the round. While those around him seem to panic, Vizcarrondo has maintained a cool head throughout his side's first round adventure. Strong in the air and surprisingly better on the turn than you might be inclined to think, the 27-year-old was key to the two clean sheets that proved enough to see Venezuela through to the quarterfinals.

Name: Waldo Ponce

Age: 28

Team: Chile

Club: Cruz Azul

Sitting at the heart of Claudio Borghi's 3-4-1-2, Ponce has been a rock at the heart of the Chile defense. Always willing to sweep across both sides, the former Wolfsburg and Velez defender is not only powerful in the air, but has been pretty good on the ground, too, making eight successful tackles in a first round that saw his side concede just two goals in their three matches.

Name: Diego Lugano

Age: 30

Team: Uruguay

Club: Fenerbache

With Diego Godin out ill, the second centre back position was between Mauricio Victorino and the debutant Sebastian Coates. There was added responsability for leadership from Lugano at the back. Perhaps not as imperious as last year at the World Cup, he encapsulates the team's philosophy, which, as he himself put it, 'we're not more than anyone, but nor are we less than anyone else.'

Midfielders

Name: Nestor Ortigoza

Age: 26

Team: Paraguay

Club: San Lorenzo

The rotund Argentina-born midfielder has been a pillar of consistency in all three of Paraguay's Group B matches, completing 91% of his passes in the first round. His one and only major error arrived just five minutes into his side's final group game with Venezuela after he surrendered possession in his own half allowing Salomon Rondon to put the Vinotinto one up. Unfazed, his reaction thereafter typified his dogged spirit.

Name: Tomas Rincon

Age: 23

Team: Venezuela

Club: HSV

The Hamburg midfielder set himself a high standard in his country's opening match with Brazil as his indefatigable showing choked all the creativity from talented Brazilian midfield. It was his tackle that also led to Rondon's opener against Paraguay. His impressive distribution and his work rate have been integral to Venezuela making the group stage for just the second time its history. And despite playing a central role in three robust midfield battles, he's yet to pick up a caution.

Name: Javier Mascherano

Age: 27

Team: Argentina

Club: Barcelona

When Batista spoke of Argentina trying to copy Barcelona, he was perhaps thinking more about Leo Messi than any other player. But his captain, who took time to settle at Barcelona before finding a place in the heart of defence, is the player who has made more passes than any other in the group stage - 275 in total. His game, and his role, is far more than passing in midfield, and while the forwards grab the headlines, the Little Boss is central to Argentina's hopes in the knockout phase.

Name: Alvaro Pereira

Age: 25

Team: Uruguay

Club: Porto

With a front three of Forlán, Suarez and Cavani, plus a magnificent World Cup performance last year, Uruguay were billed as one of the strongest contenders going into the tournament, and they were expected to score at will. Yet it was two goals from Pereira that helped Uruguay progress, and the Porto midfielder added far more than two timely goals with tireless performances on the left side of midfield.

Forwards

Name: Leo Messi

Age: 24

Team: Argentina

Club: Barcelona

He has reached higher, and lower, than anyone else in the tournament. An electric display against Costa Rica including two assists, albeit aided by an inexperienced defence, put him back on track and there were glimpses of the Barcelona player in the blue and white shirt. How he needed it - after the 0-0 with Colombia the blame for the team's problems almost exclusively centered around him.

Name: Paulo Guerrero

Age: 27

Team: Peru

Club: HSV

After injuries forced both Jefferson Farfan and Claudio Pizarro to withdraw from the squad, Hamburg striker Guerrero was under huge pressure to deliver this month. And so far he hasn't let his country down, grabbing the only two goals his side could muster in the first round. An impressive finish that earned Peru a draw with Uruguay was followed by the only goal of the game against Mexico to secure La Rojiblanca four points and a safe route to the quaterfinals.

Name: Sergio 'Kun' Agüero

Age: 23

Team: Argentina

Club: Atletico de Madrid

Not so long ago he was viewed with suspicion for being the coach's son-in-law. Then the new coach seemed to view him with suspicion for being the previous coach's son-in-law. Regardless of family ties, Agüero is the Copa's top scorer after saving Argentina's blushes against Bolivia with a brilliantly taken equaliser. Two well-taken goals against Costa Rica added to his tally and point to him being the side's best finisher.