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2010 World Cup Review: The All-Star Team

Lawrence Ostlere, The Scout, and Tom Sheldrick, The Soccer Insider, look back at the World Cup and figure out who should be part of their 2010 World Cup all-start team. They start out discussing what formation they should use and then go position by position, looking back at the top players in the month long tournament, and who should make the elilte starting eleven.

Lawrence Ostlere: OK, I think we should have a 4-2-3-1 formation as it was used by both teams in the final and most of the teams at the tournament.

Tom Sheldrick: Agreed, 4-2-3-1, although that makes the striker a very difficult choice. But the superstars misfiring proved it's the balance of the team that matters - all the more reason why we should get it right!

LO: True. So, goalkeeper…We can’t use the nominations for Golden Ball [player of the tournament] to help us here as it only contained attacking midfielders and strikers – not one defender or keeper, what a joke! Must have been picked by some FIFA officials with a list of goal-scorers in front of them. Anyway…Casillas? He was ropey at the start of the tournament but did deny Robben two world cup wining chances in the final.

TS: Yeah, Casillas got distracted by his girlfriend the reporter when they lost to Switzerland, did you hear about that?

LO: Yeah not the best excuse.

TS: He did recover to make that great stop from Robben in the final.

LO: Yeah but for me Stekelenburg was the best keeper throughout the tournament, and his save from Fabregas in the final was class.

TS: But Stekelenburg actually dived out of the way for Forlan's goal in the semi-final!

LO: Yeah Steks did have a mare with the Forlan goal, but he looked class in the group stages.

TS: For me, in a first week of goalie blunders, it's all about Vincent Enyeama. Not many people come out on top in a 1-on-1 with Lionel Messi, but he did. WHAT a performance, and you just knew it wasn’t going to be Messi’s tournament after that.

LO: Yeah OK, Enyeama is a great shout for goalkeeping performance of the tournament versus the Argies, fair enough, but goalkeeper of the world cup? I’m not sure.

TS: OK, let’s take Stekelenburg. Right back…now we’ve got some contenders! Sergio Ramos, Maicon, Lahm…

LO: Yeah lots of talent on that side, but if I could have one man it would be Ramos every time, I just think he’s got everything, going forward, defensively, in the air…

TS: But Ramos has awful hair…

LO: That’s true

TS: …and should have scored a hat-trick in the final, although I suppose that shows he’s good at getting in those positions. I’m yet to be convinced he can actually defend though. I’d plump for Maicon – that goal against North Korea, did he mean it? Of course he meant it!

LO: Yeah he definitely meant it, great goal, admittedly he’s got more magic in the final third – let’s take Maicon. Now left-back is one position I have a strong view on! Although you could make a case for Gio Van Bronkhorst, and I loved Michel Bastos's 'defending comes second' approach with lots of flair and skill, for me it has to be Portugal's Fabio Coentrao. Excellent defensively, Can’t remember a winger beating him. He's only little but got stuck into tackles and headers, and on top of that goes forward with pace and direct running, typified by an awesome little run against Spain where he beat 3 players before cruyff-turning the ball to a teammate.

TS: Agree with you totally, Coentrao was class – a former left winger so he knows how to get chalk on his boots, and how to cross, but also stuck to his task as a defender.

LO: I don't mind admitting that I love him, he's what, 21 years old? Can only get better.

TS: Really only 21? Big money move from Sporting Lisbon this summer? We agree on someone!

LO: Ha, finally, I’m sure it won’t last. Centre-back…not sure how many stand out candidates there are from this tournament, there hasn’t been the Cannavaro figure leading his team from the back as of 4 years ago. Lucio had a good tournament, although I wouldn’t pick him, he’s a centre back who chooses to dribble when an easy pass to a much more talented player, like Kaka or Dani Alves, is available. And then when someone tackles him, the 6foot something centre-back takes a dive! Very good player, terrible attitude.

TS: Yeah. Puyol? He was at fault against Switzerland, but got the key goal versus Germany. Spain didn’t concede a goal in the knockouts, people forget how good that defence is.

LO: I think Per Mertesacker looked good, and Morel of Paraguay and Godin of Uruguay were both very impressive.

TS: I really like the Chile no.3, Waldo Ponce, proper rampaging style, massive versus Spain, no way they would have rolled over to Brazil like that had he not been suspended. Diego Godin, yeah great for Uruguay, let’s go for him, but alongside him they all bow down to one man. Playing through the pain barrier, captaining his country to untold heights… the only team unbeaten in the World Cup…

LO: Ah I didn’t even think of [Ryan] Nelson! Yeah he earns a place. OK then, 2 central midfielders… Schweinsteiger is a cert, great player and one of my favourites to watch in the tournament, like Xavi he just never gives the ball away, such a good touch.

TO: Yeah, well alongside him, you were talking before the tournament about finding a holding role player, and I think we’ve found our man… Anthony Annan. Didn’t particularly standout, but that's the point, he quietly ran the show - tackling, passing, being in the right place at the right time. No frills, but excellent.

LO: Yeah I liked him actually, did the simple things well, and Ghana deserve some representation in our team, though I have to say I loved Alvaro Pereira and particularly Diego Perez of Uruguay, Their passing was good, and their tackling and work rate was exceptional.

TS: True, although Uruguay did concede a few goals towards the end... Did the draw just open up for them, or did they really earn a 4th place?

LO: Yeah they had a great draw and still needed to bend the rules shall we say to beat to Ghana. Let’s go with Annan anyway.

TS: Ok, so three attacking midfielders.

LO: I would have Villa cutting in from the left rather than as a striker, I think he was at his most effective playing off Torres rather than on his own through the middle, and scored his best goals from the left hand-side.

TS: Agreed. The right should have been the most contested position with Messi, Ronaldo, Robben, but they didn’t deliver.

LO: What about Alexis Sanchez for Chile? He is so skilful and creative, full of ideas and constantly looking to attack, which made him and Chile really exciting to watch – it’s a shame they had such a tough draw, I think they could have gone really far.

TS: Their Brazil loss was such a let down, for the most entertaining team of the group stages. He was unreal in their first two games, good pick. Could we fit in Iniesta? Or how about Mueller on the right? Golden boot winner. Its funny, you watch him and you think "this guy isn’t anything special" - but he doesn’t let you down when you need a cross, doesn’t give the ball away, knows where the goal is. Germany's break-away goals were wonderful, and were all about him and his decision-making, which is scary for a 20 year old.

LO: I disagree, OK he does the simple things well, but I really don't think he's creative or particularly good on the ball, and I don’t think he's a particularly good finisher. If you look at his goals, they were generally tap-ins and open goals – I just don’t see him being a big player in the years to come, but time will tell.

TS: You're right, I think he could have second-season-syndrome next year, but it's just difficult to argue against a 20-year-old who won the Golden Boot!

LO: I guess. And what about Oezil? He is someone who i think could be very special in a few years, especially if he moves to the right club. Great touch and pace, but his vision is the thing that makes him a cut above, some fantastic passes in every game he played.

TS: Yeah Oezil was absolute class during several moments - Australia, England, winner versus Ghana - and then hugely frustrating in others, he would be a potential best newcomer, but I don't think deserves it. I liked Sneijder’s post-match comments "and it went in off my bald head" and running slapping his head in celebration - great.

LO: Yeah, candidate for the best looking bald man in football?

TS: Could be. I just lost so much respect for the Dutch in the final, and he was guilty of some shocking tackles as much as anyone. Xavi and Robben were good, but not great.

LO: So, gun to your head, who would you go for?

TS: Villa, Iniesta and………Sanchez.

LO: Agreed, though we’ve got one hell of a subs bench! So, the big one, our striker. In terms of goals, Forlan, Higuain, Vittek (hmm!) and Klose are the best options, none of which have particularly excited me during the world cup.

TS: Vittek did a job, but it just can't be him. Higuain I just don't rate... I know he burst into the Real team aged 20 or whatever, and that doesn’t happen every day, and he scores a lot of goals, he's clinical, but I still haven’t seen him score a good one. Fabiano scored those goals against Ivory Coast which were class, but he's like Higuain, just a goal man, and he'd need to be top scorer to get in our dream team. Now Klose I do rate, the guy just scores World Cup goals, his record is ridiculous. As a German said the other day, the English defence is the only one that can make Klose look fast.

LO: Ha I like that. Honda is another candidate, he looked good on his own up front and I was really impressed with him, but other than the free-kick he only scored a tap-in.

TS: Yeah not enough. I want Gyan. Versus the US scored a real striker’s goal, and then against Uruguay - for better or for worse – he missed… and then had the balls to stand up, incredibly, and take the first penalty of the shootout, and stick it in the top corner.

LO: Yeah I had a lot of respect for that second penalty, brilliant courage – he get’s my vote too. Manager of the tournament – Joachim Loew for getting an average team to play brilliant football?

TS: It’s got to be, though hats off to Van Marwijk for getting the Dutch not to fall out, for once.

2010 World Cup All-Star team:

Stekelenburg (Holland)

Maicon (Brazil) – Nelson (New Zealand) – Godin (Uruguay) – Coentrao (Portugal)

Schweinsteiger (Germany) – Annan (Ghana)

Sanchez (Chile) – Iniesta (Spain) – Villa (Spain)

Gyan (Ghana)


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