World Cup Scouting – Striker
By Lawrence Ostlere
The striker is not just any forward position but is the specific role of being the most advanced player in the team, and is burdened with the responsibility of scoring goals. Most teams in this World Cup have played with one striker, and then used other attacking players for support. Exceptions include Spain, England and Uruguay who have played with two strikers, and Paraguay who have usually used three. But who has shone in this role? And who looks most likely to win the prize for most goals scored, the Golden Boot?
Spain - David Villa (5 goals so far)
The new Barcelona signing has put in some world class performances so far in South Africa and scored some of the best goals in the tournament, in particular the run and finish against Honduras in the group stages. With Spain playing well, he looks best placed to take the prize of Golden Boot.
Germany - Miroslav Klose (4 goals so far)
Despite struggling to break into the Bayern Munich team this season, Klose has continued his remarkable scoring record for Germany. After scoring 5 goals in each of the last two World Cups, and seven goals in qualifying, Klose has added 4, so far, in South Africa. Playing as the focal point of a fluid counter-attacking team, Klose has enjoyed fantastic service from Mehmet Ozil, Lucas Podolski and Thomas Muller. Needs two more goals to overtake Ronaldo as the top World Cup goal-scorer of all time.
Argentina - Gonzalo Higuain (4 goals)
Higuain has taken up the role of the classic poaching striker, stealing into the penalty area at the right moments to score important goals. However, the Real Madrid marksman is out of the competition after a shock defeat to Germany and won’t be adding to his tally.
Uruguay - Diego Forlan (3 goals so far)
The Uruguayan Captain has had an excellent World Cup, driving his team on to the semi-finals of the competition. Has looked dangerous, particularly from set pieces, delivering tricky balls and scoring the equalising goal against Ghana in the quarter finals from a free-kick. Will lead the line for Uruguay in the semi-final against Holland while strike partner Luis Suarez is suspended, following his controversial handball.
Brazil - Luis Fabiano (3 goals)
Heavily tipped to be the tournament’s top-scorer, the front-man has looked sharp in front of goal. His best performance came against Ivory Coast where he executed two fine finishes, despite the second aided by the use of his arm. Rounded off an excellent move against Chile to take his tally to three, but Brazil’s premature exit has finished his hopes of winning the golden boot.
Asamoah Gyan – (3 goals)
Scored the crucial goal to knock the US out of the World Cup in extra time and looked very impressive, but will always have to live with the regret of missing the crucial last minute penalty against Uruguay.
Robert Vittek – (4 goals)
The big Slovakian is a constant thorn in defences’ sides with his physical presence, and proved his scoring instinct in South Africa with an excellent return of four goals.
The Netherlands - Robin van Persie (1 goal so far)
Much was expected from van Persie leading up to the 2010 World Cup, but so far he has yet to light up the tournament in the manner that David Villa has for Spain. However, he still has time, and could make an impact in the semifinals or final. In the match versus Cameroon, when he scored, he said Sneijder should have come off before him. Sneijder went on to score the game winner.
Spain - Fernando Torres (0 goals so far)
The Liverpool striker is clearly lacking fitness and has looked sluggish in comparison to his normal sharpness. Although Spain have kept faith with Torres and continue to play him, his lack of goals suggests he may soon be dropped from the team for the semi-final and final, should Spain get that far.
England - Wayne Rooney (0 goals)
One of the biggest disappointment’s of the competition, Rooney lacked the prolific form shown for Manchester United this season. In fairness he had very few opportunities in a team bereft of ideas, but should certainly have done better than a return of no goals from four matches.
United States - Jozy Altidore (0 goals)
For the United States to advance further in the tournament they need a forward who can score goals. Altidore put himself into quite a few goal scoring positions, and versus England nearly scored on a fantastic run, but he wasn't composed or sharp enough to knock home goals versus Algeria or Ghana when he had clear chances.
Lawrence Ostlere is a freelance writer and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org