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World Cup 2010: Team of the Tournament

Well, that’s all folks! The football extravaganza that is the World Cup has been and gone, in what seemed like the blink of an eye. As per usual, the final was far from a classic, but congratulations to Spain on deservedly becoming world champions for the first time in their history.

The World Cup threw up plenty of surprises, with many of the names expected to shine failing to produce the goods. On the other hand, many lesser known players enhanced their reputation. So who were the best players? Sport Report names its Team of the Tournament.

Goalkeeper: Maarten Stekelenburg (Netherlands)

In all honesty, goalkeeper was the hardest position to pick in this team as nobody really had a stand out tournament. Casillas may have keep a string of clean sheets as Spain ‘George Grahamed’ their way to the title, but he looked shaky throughout. Stekelenburg made a number of fine saves throughout the tournament, including a couple in last night’s final and his defence seemed very much happy that he was the man behind them. Bar misjudging Diego Forlan’s strike in the semi-final, the Ajax stopper was solid throughout and so is the ‘keeper in this team.

Full Back: Gregory van der Wiel (Netherlands)

Granted, the young Ajax full back looks much better going forward than he does defending, but that doesn’t mean to say that he cannot defend. He was a revelation for the Dutch, as reliable as anybody for them and let’s not forget, he is still only 22. A major reason for the success enjoyed by the Dutch in South Africa, don’t be surprised if Europe’s big boys (and Manchester City) start to chase his signature.

Centre Back: Gerard Piqué (Spain)

Spain won four straight games 1-0 en route to World Cup glory and the young Barcelona man was a key reason for that. Reads the game well, good in the air and fantastic on the ball, Piqué is becoming one the world’s elite defenders and he proved it in South Africa.

Centre Back: Lucio (Brazil)

Germany’s Arne Friedrich is unlucky to miss out but Lucio continued his great form for Inter at the World Cup. It is the most defensively sound team Brazil has probably ever produced and the Inter man is the main reason for that. Commanding in the air, committed in the tackle and better on the ball than most midfielders, Lucio is truly top drawer. Produced a number of fine performances until his goalkeeper pushed the self destruct button versus the Netherlands and so merits his place in the team.

Full Back: Phillipp Lahm (Germany)

Without any doubt, Lahm is the world’s best fullback. A genuine all round player who is a top class defender and offers plenty going forward. He captained his side with aplomb and the added responsibility seemed to improve his performances as nobody seemed to find a way past him. No question he was one of the stars of the tournament.

Midfield: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)

Ever since Schweini has moved into a central midfield role, he has seemed rejuvenated. He acted as Germany’s quarterback in a deep lying midfield role, much like Xavi for Spain and hardly seemed to put a foot wrong. He is now maturing in to one of the finest players in Europe and his form for Bayern Munich and Germany is proof of this. His run through the Argentine defence in the quarter-final to set up Klose’s second goal was one of the best individual moments of the World Cup.

Midfield: Wesley Sneijder. (Netherlands)

Will no doubt be a contender for the Ballon d’or come December having won the treble in Italy, but he was unable to add the biggest prize of them all. Still, on a personal level, Sneijder had a wonderful World Cup, finishing joint top scorer with five goals, including two against Brazil and producing a string of top performances in his team’s run to the final.

Midfield: Thomas Müller (Germany)

This was a world cup that saw the headline: Müllered as a youngster from Weilheim left his mark on the world’s biggest stage. This spot was a toss up between Müller and his young teammate Mesut Özil, but how can you pick against the man who won the Golden Boot with five goals and three assists? You can’t and that is why the man from Bayern Munich gets the nod.

Midfield: Keisuke Honda (Japan)

I may cop some flak for omitting the likes of Robben, Iniesta, Xavi and Özil , but in a way Honda typified this World Cup as he outshone the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Japan played some of the best football on show at the tournament and Honda was the man pulling the strings. Looking good in an average team is not easy and that is why he finds his way in to the team ahead of the aforementioned superstars. Technically very sound, his passing and control were first rate and he even succeeded where almost everyone else failed by rifling in a free kick Cristiano Ronaldo would have been proud of.

Striker: David Villa (Spain)

Seemed to carry Spain in the earlier games, scoring a number of vital goals. El Guaje has been one of the hottest strikers on Earth for years now and so it came as no surprise to see him produce the goods again for his country. Now only one goal shy of Raul’s record haul for Spain, but more importantly, a World Cup winner.

Striker: Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

The official player of the tournament had a summer to remember, leading unfashionable Uruguay, a country of only 3.5 million people, to the World Cup semi-final. Scored five goals but also proved his versatility, playing just off the striker and acting as a creative force. An absolute shoe-in for this team.

Unlucky to miss out: You could make a very good case for all the following players, but at the end of the day, there is only room for 11 starters!

Arjen Robben (Netherlands)

Andres Iniesta (Spain)

Xavi (Spain)

Mesut Özil (Germany)

Iker Casillas (Spain)

Arne Friedrich (Germany)

Miroslav Klose (Germany)

Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)

Kevin Prince Boateng (Ghana)

Robinho (Brazil)

Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Netherlands)

Landon Donovan (USA)

Sport Report Player of the Tournament: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)

Bastian Schweinsteiger: Sport Report Player of the Tournament (This is image is the property of The Daily Telegraph)

This is obviously a bit of fun and is not meant to be a team that would function! Do you agree with the choices? Who would you change? Let us know, all comments are welcome!

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Categories: Football
  1. Chris Hollindale
    July 19, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    These things are obviously very subjective and everyone always disagrees, but here are the things I’d change nonetheless:

    (1) The goalkeeper of the tournament has to be Eduardo for me, given that all of the other contenders made at least one mistake. Several key saves in a defensively excellent Portugal side. He was even unlucky with the one he conceded (Villa’s goal in the last 16).

    (2) What is your reasoning for choosing Pique over Puyol? Pique is absolutely fantastic in the air (as he proved against Germany’s last-15-minute aerial bombardment in the semi-final), but is a little sluggish on the ground and was caught out a few times including in the final. Puyol, on the other hand, is a superb all round defender and was brilliant throughout the tournament. Throw in the important goal he scored as well and he takes Pique’s place in the team for me. (N.B. This point probably isn’t really worth arguing about since Spain have played 7 KO matches over the course of the 2008 Euros and the 2010 World Cup and have come away with seven clean sheets! Amazing.)

    (3) Sniejder has probably been the midfielder of the season, but he certainly wasn’t at his best at this World Cup. He did score five goals, but a couple of them were somewhat fortunate and I would say that he didn’t have as much impact on the tournament as Ozil did. Ozil takes that spot for me.

    (4) I can see why you’ve plumped for Honda, but I’d have Xavi in my team instead. Created the most chances in the tournament, completed the most passes, absolutely dominated the semi-final against Germany, had excellent defensive positioning and generally was the vital central cog in Spain’s victory.

    Agree with a lot of what you say though – it’s a pretty formidable team!

    • July 19, 2010 at 5:12 pm

      Hi Chris,

      Like i said in the post this really was a tough task and there were only 11 spots but I’ll respond to your points one by one.

      1) Goalkeeper was a tough one and I did give Eduardo serious consideration. I wouldn’t argue with anyone putting him in their team as he made a number of top class saves and yes he was unlucky with Villa’s goal too.

      2) I have never been a big Puyol fan as I have always believed he is vastly overrated. Pique is not quick, but Puyol is like a tortoise. Robben ghosted past him when he had a five yard head start and had the Dutchman gone down on the edge of the box, Puyol would have been sent off. He did have a good World cup in fairness but I prefer the more technical style of Pique. If anyone were to take Pique’s place, it would have been Friedrich.

      3) i thought Sneijder conducted play very well for the netherlands throughout and was a shoe in for me. Oezil was brilliant, but a bit quiet against Argentina and Spain, otherwise he would have been in. if you read the piece I wrote back in April titled ‘The future’s bright, the future’s German,’ you’ll know I really rate the lad and think he’ll be one of the world’s elite players. Unlucky to miss out and again, I wouldn’t argue if someone put him in their team.

      4) Xavi is my favourite player (as anyone who speaks to me regularly about football gets sick of hearing) and again was unlucky to miss out. Maybe it’s because we have such high standards for him that it is hard for him to stand out, but for me he did what he always does and this is probably why I omitted him. He is, however, the best player in the world in my opinion. I thought Honda looked top class, really techincal and skilful with an eye for a pass. It will be interesting to see if CSKA get any offers for him.

      Superiorraw: can only have one eleven I’m afraid which is why I listed those unlucky to miss out. Again though, I think all your alternatives are very reasonable and can easily have their case argued. i actually thought van Bronckhorst was probably the best player on the pitch in the final before he got subbed.

  2. Superiorraw
    July 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Well I think a little differently in a few positions here.
    GK) Casillas
    FB) Lahm
    CB) Friedrich
    CB) Pique
    FB) Van Bronckhorst
    MF) Xavi
    MF) Sneijder
    MF) Iniesta
    MF) Muller
    FW) Villa
    FW) Forlan

    I’d also make a second string from the following players who should be given consideration.
    GK) Stekelenberg
    FB) Coentrao
    CB) Lucio
    CB) Mathijsen
    FB) Boateng
    MF) Schweinsteiger
    MF) Ozil
    MF) Gyan Asamoah
    MF) Robben
    FW) Klose
    FW) Higuain

    I opted for those in the first team because as I have already stated Xavi came to the world cup and we knew what he was about, we knew he was an exceptional passer of the ball and a terrific two way player, theres alot of players who arrived at the world cup swamped with ego driven reputations and failed to live up to them, Xavi wasn’t one of them. He done exactly what he is paid to do at club level and done exactly what Spain asked of him, I think in fair reflection Xavi can do Schweinsteigers position or role if you like better. I think he’s the best Midfielder in world football.

    Casillas gets a nod for me in goal and most likely now will replace Buffon at the top of the Keeper list, he’s had a tough season but i think without Casillas making those string of saves i think that Spain wouldnt of won the world cup (yes i think he’s that important). He proved that despite a few nervy moments he still came through for his country when it mattered, denying Robben in the final and he actually looked great again last night.

    Muller, Forlan and Villa are shoe-ins. Although there are plenty to pick from in those positions all 3 of those players have had a wonderful tournament. I feel a bit unlucky for Gio Van Bronckhorst as i think he played really well throughout the tournament from start to finish, all this despite his age. He’s had a wonderful career though and he gets the nod along with Lahm at fullback. Friedrich and Pique were masters of central defence for their sides and in my humble opinion were the best centrebacks at display at the tournament.
    Wesley Sneijder is probably one of the most underated players in the world. His delivery from setpieces is probably only bettered by David Beckham. I never seen anyone take set pieces or curl a ball like him but if anyone can claim that mantle for passing ability and vision it is Sneijder. I’ve always thought he was an exceptional player going back to his earlier career at Ajax. Iniesta again for me is a shoe in, simply because of his ability to continue to find space even in the tightest of defensive games, whether its threading a pass or breaking into a box this guy is a top player!

    I’d like to say one final word on Thomas Muller. Wow. You know if he wasn’t european and was brazilian or argentinian everyone right now would be raving about him. I guess thats a culture thing as Muller isnt a trend player. Whilst everyone has been purring about ‘what a great tournament messi has had’ Muller let his boots do the talking where it mattered on the field. His contribution at this world cup has been sensational. He certainly outshone many players!

    • Anonymous
      July 14, 2010 at 3:17 am

      Definitely agree with Lucio, he brought a dimension to their play that I didn’t see from any other team. Didn’t see enough of Japan to judge individual players but in the short spell I did see of theirs I loved their style of play. Pique looked very leaden footed when Robben got clean through in the final though. Diego is a deity!

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