Friday, 16 July 2010

The Team of the Tournament

The moment you've all been waiting for...

Goalkeeper - Eduardo (Portugal)

There was a real shortage of good 'keepers in South Africa, even the traditionally brilliant Iker Casillas had his jittery moments, although he did managed to get the 'Golden Glove' award, presumably by default. Since there wasn't many alternatives who got further in the competition I'm going to go for the Portuguese stopper Eduardo, who has just moved to Genoa in Italy. About the only good thing about Portugal this year was their keeper, as Carlos Quieroz even managed to make Ronaldo crap for a month, they only conceded once, to David Villa, and Eduardo made some great saves against Brazil and Spain.

Left back - Carlos Salcido (Mexico)

Similar problem at left back, it's difficult to make much of a case for any full backs in the last four being included. As it is, Salcido was particularly good in the group stage, similar to four years ago. Apparently he doesn't turn it on for PSV domestically, so from that we can assume he's the opposite of anyone who's ever played for England. A lot of Mexico's attacking play came through him, and he was their most dangerous player against Argentina in the last 16.

Centre Back - Carles Puyol (Spain)

Gerard Pique may get the plaudits (probably because he doesn't look like he's just staggered off the Lord of the Rings set straight onto the pitch) but Puyol was immense in South Africa. Not just in winning the semi final, but also throughout the tournament he held the defence together. He's not the quickest, or the best on the ball, but he used all of his experience to marshall the rest of the back 4 and must take much of the credit for them only conceding twice.

Centre Back - Lucio (Brazil)

For a big defender he is suprisingly good going forward. His tournament was cut short by the utter incompetence of the rest of his team but that shouldn't take away from his performance. He had a terrific season with Inter and continued that form into the World Cup. Had Brazil gone further he could have really stated a claim for the Balon D'Or. At least, he could've if he wasn't a defender.

Right Back - Phillip Lahm (Germany)

No debate here. The best right back in the world, and comfortably the best right back in the tournament, just as he was four years ago. His versatility means he'll end up on the left for Bayern next season, but no such problems for him with Germany. I get the impression captaining the Germans isn't quite the challenge it can be with other teams, not many of them come out and try to stage a coup in the middle of a World Cup. Regardless, he took them to a semi-final and had a great tournament himself.

Central Midfield - Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)

Excelled in his new role as more of a holding midfielder. Bizarrely written off by the BBC brain trust because they've never seen him play there before, but put them firmly in their place with brilliant performances against England and Argentina. Other than a mental moment in the 3rd place playoff, flawless tournament.

Central Midfield - Anthony Annan (Ghana)

A bit of an unknown quantity coming into the tournament, but played so well that it was easy to forget that Ghana were missing Michael Essien in midfield. Not as much of an athlete as Essien, but more of a Makelele type player. Not only broke up opposition moves, but was always in space to receive the ball. A move to a bigger club than Rosenborg awaits.

Left Wing - Andres Iniesta (Spain)

My player of the tournament (surprisingly), had a hand in all Spain's goals after the group stage, and of course scored the winner in the final. He makes such a huge difference to the team when he's fit, and that really showed after he came back into the side against Chile.

Attacking Midfield - Mesut Oezil (Germany)

Started with a bang, but perhaps faded slightly after the England game. Regardless, the World Cup has only enhanced his reputation, not that he was completely unknown beforehand. Gets this position ahead of Sneijder because I don't think the Dutchman actually had that good a tournament, definitely was overrated due to the goals. One of which was an own goal, another offside and one more the Japanese 'keeper chucked in.

Right Wing - Thomas Mueller (Germany)

Another shoe-in, thoroughly deserved his Young Player award, but it is rather mysterious that he wasn't nominated for the full award. Another example of FIFA's genius decision making. I don't agree with him winning the Golden Boot because of the number of assists, but it does reinforce just how good he was. 5 goals and 3 assists in 6 games is a fantastic performance.

Striker - Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

FIFA's Player of the Tournament, and one that it is difficult to argue with (even though I would). Dragged Uruguay to the semi-finals almost by himself. I would say 'single handedly' but I think Luis Suarez might have something to say about that. Really flourished in a role just behind the front two, and Suarez's suspension really hurt them in that regard since he had to play further forward. On top of all that he scored a couple of absolute screamers. But he didn't play well in England so he must be rubbish...

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