FIFA World Cup 2010: Top Five Super Subs In South Africa
No matter the quality contained within your starting 11, occasionally they are simply unable to get the job done.
Despite the weeks of scouting, training and the team's best laid plans prior to a match, sometimes a change is needed to help spur your team toward victory.
Enter the "super sub".
One might reasonably assume that a squad's best players start the majority of their team's matches.
This is generally the case, but there are those certain players who might be able to make more of a meaningful impact as a late game substitution, rather than pacing themselves over a full 90 minutes.
Often, this type of player has a unique attribute or circumstance that helps make them a dynamic player off of the bench. Occasionally, a player is a former great who might just be a little past his prime, but still skilled enough and experienced enough to make his presence known when his team needs him most.
At other times, a national team might be so loaded with quality players that a man who would easily make most starting lineups, must ride his time on the bench, waiting for the precise moment to enter the game and possibly change the course of footballing history.
Let's take a look at a few of the 2010 World Cup's top super subs, just waiting for their opportunity to supply a game changing moment on the global stage.
Honorable mention must go to Arjen Robben, as his hamstring injury has thus far ruled him out of the lineup for the Netherlands. If he is healthy, he will likely start, but he may also find himself among the most dangerous potential substitutes in the World Cup, health permitting.
If France continues to underachieve, this forward could very well work his way into the starting lineup.
For now though, French legend Thierry Henry must watch from the bench as his often goalless countrymen continue to be stymied by various defenses.
With questions regarding the qualifications of French coach Raymond Domenech, his choice of players, tactics and formation, France is rife with uncertainties.
Something they can be certain of though, are the illustrious career achievements of the senior member of their squad, Thierry Henry.
With 51 goals in 121 international appearances for France and a club record boasting 306 goals in 651 club matches, it is abundantly clear that Thierry Henry knows how to find the back of the net.
Coming off a disappointing season in Barcelona and a French qualifying run in which his handball propelled his side into the World Cup, we have seen a recent tarnishing of the reputation of this footballing great.
Controversy and diminished club form aside, we have all witnessed the on field genius of Thierry Henry and should not be surprised to see him make a meaningful contribution in the final World Cup of his celebrated career.
His knowledge of the game, perfect positioning, marksman-like finishing touch, and formidable free kick prowess make him a welcome addition to almost any team, especially when you desperately need a goal.
While he may not be a candidate to play a full 90 minutes in most matches for France, one can be sure that a 20-30 minute cameo by Henry is enough to cause problems for even the most experienced defenders in the World Cup.
As a 31 year old footballer, Argentina's Diego Milito is running out of time to make a serious impact for his national team.
Considering the younger, faster attacking options that Argentina has in Messi, Tevez, Higuaín & Sergio Agüero, one can understand how Diego Milito may find it difficult to crack his team's starting XI.
Since he left his native Argentina and original team Racing Club, for a higher profile football career in Europe, the man has done nothing but score. During two stints with Genoa, a three year spell in Spain, and his treble winning debut season with Inter Milan, Milito has totaled a very impressive 151 goals in 274 club appearances.
Anyone who witnessed his UEFA Man of the Match performance in the 2010 Champions League Final against Bayern Munich knows the level of quality that Diego Milito is capable of. With two moments of virtuosic goal scoring ability, Milito made the match his own, capping what was already a brilliant debut season for Jose Mourinho's Inter squad.
Will the opportunity arise for Milito to create a game changing moment on an even bigger stage in South Africa?
To this point in his career, Cesc Fabregas has found cracking Spain's starting XI to be a difficult task.
There is no shame in this though, as the 23 year old Arsenal Captain finds himself in a crowded midfield mix with many highly talented fellow Spaniards.
Although Fabregas does enjoy the occasional start for Spain, he often enters as a late game substitute, due to the presence of the man of a remarkably similar skill set, Xavi. 2010 in South Africa might see Fabregas inserted into the starting lineup as the health of regulars Fernando Torres and Andres Iniesta is in doubt, which might force an alteration of formation and starting lineup...which could make a super sub out of either of those players.
Fabregas is not known as a pure goal scorer, but considering that he finished his 2009-10 Arsenal season with 19 goals and 16 assists in 36 club matches, he should now be known as a complete offensive player.
Whether Cesc is able to earn a starting position for Spain shall remain a mystery until tomorrow's match. One thing is for certain though, if Fabregas does begin matches on the bench, Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque will have the good fortune of being able to call upon one of the world's most dynamic young midfielders to work his magic as a late game substitute.
Possessing such an option on your bench has the potential to give any coach the opportunity to appear as a footballing genius.
At first glance, one might assume that Peter Crouch got lost on his way to the basketball gymnasium. Standing at 6'7", England's Crouch doesn't fit the standard physical profile of most footballers you have seen.
Despite his lanky frame, Peter Crouch is deceptively agile and skilled in the ways of football.
Although he has never found himself in one place for too long during his career in England, the nomadic forward continues to make an impression wherever he finds himself.
Never among the elite goal scorers in England, he has nevertheless built a solid career scoring record of 129 goals in 403 appearances for nine different clubs.
Where his reputation has been built though are in his contributions to the English National Team. Peter Crouch boasts an international scoring rate of 21 goals in only 39 appearances which certainly places him amongst the most dangerous scoring threats in the World Cup.
A defense might be able to contain him over the course of 90 minutes with proper pre-game planning, but when he enters as a substitute later in the game, the task becomes increasingly difficult. Tired defenders have already spent the better part of an hour or more attempting to contain the bulldog-like tenacity of Wayne Rooney...now they're expected to get up in the air and deal with a 6'7" roving aerial target man?
Even standing still, Peter Crouch is a threat to be reckoned with, but once he leaves his feet, it takes a significant leap for most defenders to even approach the altitude of the ironically named Crouch.
Without many starts, Peter Crouch will still find himself to be an integral part of Fabio Capello's game plans as England attempt to advance deep into the 2010 World Cup.
Under normal circumstances, Didier Drogba is an undisputed starter and absolutely dominant force for his Ivory Coast National Team.
Unfortunately, his badly timed fractured elbow, sustained during a friendly match versus Japan a mere week before the World Cup, has reduced him to only super sub status for now.
Drogba may still find himself able to start in the upcoming group matches for Ivory Coast, but for now his status is still questionable after their opening match scoreless draw with Portugal.
He was able to feature in that match, coming on as a substitute in the 66th minute, adding some life much needed life to a match that was lacking in drama, aside from the many pained facial expressions displayed by Cristiano Ronaldo.
The presence of Drogba was felt immediately upon his entrance into the game and a few of his runs had to strike fear into the hearts of Portugal's defenders.
After a slow start in his younger years in France, Drogba turned into a serious scoring threat during his years with Guingamp and Marseille. Once he transferred to Chelsea, he began to build his reputation as a world class striker, notching 131 goals in 260 club matches.
Playing for his native Ivory Coast, his tremendous scoring rate increases even further, as he has totaled 44 international goals in only 70 career matches.
Every coach would love to have such a weapon at his disposal over the course of an entire match, but considering his current injury situation, it may be difficult for Drogba to play all 90 minutes.
Being able to plug a player of this caliber into a game during it's latter stages though, may just give Ivory Coast the most dangerous substitute available to any coach in South Africa.