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23 Best of the World Cup

Here is my 23 man squad of the best at the World Cup (I managed to sneak in another outfield player on the bench & did not get caught by FIFA, unlike North Korea’s coach)

My formation is a 4-1-2-1-2:

GK Casillas (Spain) Captain – On Friday I had the starting keeper slot up for grabs in my notes. And on Sunday Casillas grabbed it. Spain didn’t concede a goal in the knock-out rounds, though it is debatable how much Iker played a part in this. However, he stoned Arjen Robben on two break-aways & ultimately hoisted the trophy as the captain of the World Cup winning side.

RB Maicon (Brazil) – He started off the tournament tormenting the North Koreans & eventually scoried a phenomenal goal from what seemed like an impossible angle. Coach Dunga relied on him to be the lone attacking force on the right for Brazil. He did this while also tracking back to defend. Ultimately, Brazil ended up being a disappointment, but Maicon lived up to his expectations.

CB Puyol & Piqué (Spain) – This defensive combination was a no brainer. They are comfortable playing next to each other, see Barcelona, & organized a stingy Spain defense all tournament long. The most impressive part of these stalwarts is how they win the ball back for Spain & are always able to KEEP possession (take note Onyweu & Demerit). Piqué is able to spray passes across the pitch & Puyol is the warrior with the wild hair, who will be remembered for his thumping header that KO’d Germany.

LB Coentrão (Portugal) – This position had no obvious choice, but I went with Fabio. Many may question Fabio’s hair cut & hair color (actually everyone should), but nobody should question his abilities. He was the only player who was willing to venture forward & offer support to Cristiano Ronaldo. He swung a bevy crosses & provided flair for a Portugal team who were very conservative. Also, he was part of a back four who only conceded one goal in the tournament.

CM Schweinsteiger (Germany) – He played on the wing for the Germans in 2006 & was only converted to a central midfield player in the past year for his club team Bayern Munich. Bastian did exactly what he was required to do: stifle the opponents attack by breaking up passes in the middle of the field & then finding a passing outlet. He started off many of the memorable counter attack goals scored by Germany & also marshaled a young team that may be the favorites in 2014.

RM Müller (Germany) – One of the break-out stars of the tournament. Thomas won the Golden Boot by scoring 5 goals & assisting on 3 others. He was the executioner of the vaunted German counter attack.

LM Iniesta (Spain) – He cemented his place in this team by scoring the extra time winner in yesterday’s final. He also scored a great goal v Chile & made a marauding run through the Paraguayan defense to set up the winner in their quarter final. With Fernando Torres playing poorly, Iniesta picked up his slack by providing support for David Villa to form a cohesive attacking combo. (This combination will continue to be frightening this season for Barcelona). On the down side, I was disappointed by his constant complaining to referee Howard Webb & his ‘lack of balance’ that he showed in the final.

CAM Sneijder (Holland) – Although he benefitted from some deflected goals, he finished the tournament as joint top scorer on 5. Wesley was dangerous all tournament & picked up the slack left behind by his striker Robin Van Persie, who was non-existent throughout much of the tournament. In the final he was quiet, but he put Robben through for a one on one with Casillas which could have been the winning assist.

CF Forlán (Uruguay) – Diego was one of the few players who seemed to master the much controversial Jabulani ball. He won the Golden Ball for being the best player, as voted on by the journalists. He even played out of position for most tournament, dropping deeper into midfield to play the ‘#10’ role because his team needed him there. He played well consistently throughout the competition & also earns my award for “the Best Tweeter” out of all players in the World Cup.

ST David Villa (Spain) – He landed a huge transfer to Barcelona right before the tournament & I bet Valencia are kicking themselves after the display he put on. (How much would Man City have offered for him today?) He struggled in the final, but he bailed Spain out late in games to progress his country deep in the tournament. He scored one of the best goals of the tournament v Honduras weaving past 3 defenders before curling the ball into the top corner from the seat of his pants. V Chile, He added a 45 yard curler with his weaker left foot after the Chilean keeper came out to challenge a long ball. He advanced Spain  to the semis by scoring winners v Portugal & Paraguay.

The Bench:

GK Eduardo (Portugal) – He had my vote as top keeper until Iker’s performance in the finals. He stoned Spain numerous times until David Villa put one past him, which was his own rebound by the way. He only allowed one goal in the four games he played in.

CB Paulo Da Silva (Paraguay) – Paraguay were the most boring team in the World Cup. However, Da Silva led a very stingy defense which played organized under constant pressure.

LB Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Holland) – He captained Holland all tournament & scored the best goal of the World Cup in the semi-finals v Uruguay. Gio, who will retire from football, helped provide width on the left for Holland while also playing part in a surprisingly good defense.

RB Sergio Ramos (Spain) – Ramos has always been known for his attacking play (How did he not score at all in this tournament?), but his defensive work was what put him on this list.

CDM Javier Mascherano (Argentina) – He was the captain of the Argentine side many picked to lift the trophy. He anchored a midfield in which he was the only player who had any defensive responsibility.

RCM Diego Perez (Uruguay) – Mr. Perez was one of my favorite players to watch. He ran his butt off & made vicious slide tackles every game. Perez set up the first Uruguayan goal in the Thrid Place game  with a great slide tackle then outlet pass to Suarez. The announcers always wondered how he never received more cards, thus entering him into the All-Mark Van Bommel team. He also resembled one of the zombies from “I am Legend” which added to his intimidating demeanor.

CM KP Boateng (Ghana) – Boateng played exactly like he looked. (Which I guess is a compliment & why I couldn’t stand watching him). He was tatted-out & had a wicked mo-hawk. He was constantly barking at the referees, he took wild shots from 30 yards out & he somehow never got carded for ridiculous slide tackles. He also was the back bone of a young, upstart Ghana team.

CM Xavi (Spain) – He completed 599 passes in the tournament! But, the reason why he didn’t make my top 11: he didn’t make the killer passes that we are so used to seeing him make at Barcelona.

LM/CF Keisuke Honda (Japan) – He scored v Denmark on an outrageous free-kick & was often jettisoned on his own up top in a defensive Blue Samurai lineup. Honda showed off his great skill & his daring bleach blonde threads.

RM/LM Landon Donovan (United States) – Landon scored a last minute winner to beat Algeria that set off pandemonium in office buildings & local bars alike. He also tallied on a guillotine attempt of the keeper to spark a second half comeback v Slovenia. He scored 3 times in South Africa & was the best attacking player for the USA.

CAM Mesut Özil (Germany) – He was another member of the young German attack & arrived on the scene early by lighting up Australia in Germany’s opener. He reminds me of a raw Xavi & has the potential to win world player of the year in the future. He will be linked to every top European club this off season & I would be shocked if he stayed at Werder Bremen.

ST Luis Suarez (Uruguay) – Suarez made the list for my most memorable moment of the Cup; the cheating, yet genius, volley ball save in the 119 min to miraculously defeat Ghana. (And don’t tell me you wouldn’t celebrate in the tunnel after Gyan missed the subsequent penalty?) He also scored a stunning winner v South Korea in the round of 16. His value was seen in the semifinal as he was sorely missed in the loss v Holland.

Any player I left out or any changes you would make to the formation, starting XI?

  1. OAlexander
    July 15, 2010 at 7:46 am | #1

    One of the best of the WC 2010 teams of the tournament I have come across. I am notoriously opinionated and grumpy. We can argue Maicon, Contrão and Snijder. I, eg. prefer Ramos and Lahm for their defensive strengths, albeit the latter offensive capabilities came not really to the fore at the tournament.

    I’d probably whack Forlán on Snijder’s position, Müller on his and Xavi an Müller’s. But, I suppose, the Netherlands need to be represented somehow. Therfore, maybe v Bronckhorst for Contrão? Probably not really.

    On the bench I don’t like Mascherano too much, as he offers to little offensively, and Landon Donovan I accept solely as your tribute to your home country. I have seen him frequently, and against serious opposition he regularly turns out to be a sub-standard player.

    Else you argue your case very well. Cheers.

    On GK one could have different opinions – which however are largely a matter of taste. Casillas is very ok, as he also made to important saves in the semi. Hot candidates are probably also the Dutch and German guys.

  2. Sean
    July 14, 2010 at 8:36 pm | #2

    Hey I really like your picks and analyses. I’m glad you understood the importance of Coentrau behind Ronaldo – wanted to see that combo for a lil longer, unfortunate they had to play Spain out of all teams in the round of 16.

    As for the rest of the team, I like them. The only thing I would have a hard time doing is not starting Xavi. I know you said he didn’t have the elite Barcelona passes, but I still can’t help but feel that without him, Spain definitely would not have won the whole tournament.

    Thanks for this blog

  3. Anymou
    July 14, 2010 at 5:19 pm | #3

    This starting lineup is great but they’re still not unbeatable. Ryan Nelsen did the best job in pure defence!

    With Messi, Ronaldo, Robben & Rooney upfront, they can be a strong team provided they cope well.

  4. ace
    July 13, 2010 at 3:01 pm | #4

    Nice job with the choices and the formation, that would be a killer attacking squad.

    Prince-Boateng deserves a spot on the bench, also Vittek of slovakia, Carvalho of Portugal perhaps ahead of Pique.

  5. Anonymous
    July 13, 2010 at 9:49 am | #5

    you should take pique out of the starting lineup, and how do you not even have phillip lahm as a bench player? he was one of the best defenders of the tournament with his runs down the side from the back and helping break up opponents chances in their attacking third

  6. trav
    July 12, 2010 at 11:48 pm | #6

    OMG how cliche. you obviously tuned in during the final 4. FYI there are WAYY better players on other teams. do some homework and you will see.

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