Sixty-two matches have been played in the 2010 World Cup and now, only two remain. Over the past month, fans from around the world have watched some of the finest soccer you will ever see (despite the Jabulani).
Players who were nobodies before the tournament are now household names because of their play on the pitch. Star players either rose to meet their expectations or failed and shamed themselves and their country.
At this time, we at Bleacher Report would like to announce our 2010 World Cup All Tournament Team. These players had stellar tournaments and deserve to be recognized as the best of the best for this tournament.
Without any more introductions, here is the list:
Coming into the tournament, the Spanish keeper was already recognized as the top goalie in the world. Well, Casillas did not disappoint in South Africa.
Casillas recorded four clean sheets in Spain’s six games in the World Cup. The keeper also had a crucial penalty kick save in the quarterfinals against Paraguay.
With his play in this tournament, there is no question who is the number one goalie in the world.
The 28-year-old is coming off a great season with his club Inter Milan and continued his stellar play in the World Cup.
The defender started every game for Brazil and was solid in the back.
Maicon constantly got involved in the attack and was able to score an astonishing goal against North Korea. There has been some serious criticism of the Brazilian players. Maicon should not receive any of it.
The Barcelona Captain has done everything Spain has needed to get to the World Cup Final.
He has defended beautifully and scored the most important goal of his life against Germany in the semi-finals. Puyol’s headed was the deciding goal in Spain’s 1-0 win over the Germans.
Puyol’s goal sent Spain to their first World Cup Final ever and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest Spanish defenders.
Everyone knew about the Dutch offense coming into this tournament. The biggest question for the Dutch was their defense.
The 35-year-old Captain helped answer that question. The Dutch defense has been vital to the Dutch winning five out of their six games by only one goal.
Van Bronckhorst has been excellent on both sides of the pitch. His blast against Uruguay in the semi-finals may have been the goal of the tournament.
When German Captain Michael Ballack was ruled out of the World Cup with an ankle injury, someone had to step up and take the captain’s armband.
Philipp Lahm was that man. The 26-year-old Bayern Munich defender has recorded 71 CAPS with the national team and is no stranger to the World Cup.
Lahm scored Germany’s first goal in the 2006 World Cup against Costa Rica. Although Lahm did not score in 2010, he was a key piece to the German team that reached the semi-finals.
One of the biggest surprises this World Cup was Ghana. The Black Stars were one penalty kick away from reaching the semi-finals.
This deep run in the tournament was done without their best player Michael Essien. Essien’s replacement at defensive midfield was Kevin-Prince Boateng, and he did not disappoint.
Boateng played a huge role in Ghana’s success throughout the tournament. He scored his only goal of the tournament against the United States in the round of 16 and was defensively solid the entire tournament.
No player may have improved his stock more this World Cup than Keisuke Honda. This midfielder lead Japan to its first knock out round in the World Cup not played on Asian soil.
Honda scored twice for Japan with one being a great free kick against Denmark and was always involved the Japanese offense.
The 24 year-old currently plays for CSKA Moscow, but don’t be surprised if he makes a move to a big-time club this summer.
The Dutch midfielder is currently tied with Spain’s David Villa as the top goal scorer this World Cup with five goals.
Sneijder has had a great tournament but has really stepped up his play in the knockout rounds. He has scored four out of his five goals in the knockout stage.
Sneijder best performance this tournament had to be his two goals against Brazil in a shocking 2-1 win for the Dutch. If the Netherlands are going to beat Spain on Sunday, Sneijder is going to have to bring his A game.
I consider myself an educated international soccer fan. But I had no idea who Thomas Muller was before the World Cup began.
Well I and the rest of the world do now.
Muller scored four goals for Germany this World Cup and at times completely dominated the competition (sorry England). But you know what the scariest part about Muller is?
He is only 20 years old. Muller has a long career ahead of him, and I’m already making him my favorite to win the Golden Boot in the 2014 World Cup.
You know that other soccer team in Madrid not named Real Madrid?
Well, they are called Athletico Madrid and their best player is a forward named Diego Forlan. But after this World Cup, the Uruguay striker may be heading down the street to the other Madrid club.
Forlan scored four goals this World Cup and almost singlehandedly carried Uruguay to the World Cup Finals. Forlan was all over the pitch and played a major role in almost every score by Uruguay.
The last time Uruguay won the World Cup was in 1950 when the tournament was hosted in Brazil. Forlan will try to repeat history in 2014, when the tournament returns to Brazil.
David Villa was the odds makers’ favorite to win the Golden Boot before the World Cup began, and he hasn’t disappointed. He is tied at the top with Wesley Sneijder at five goals with the Final to play.
Villa had a lot of pressure coming into this tournament. Before the competition began, it was announced that he would play next season in Barcelona. He wanted to prove to his new club that he was worth the millions they paid for him. Barcelona may want to give him a raise after this World Cup.
In the round of 16 and the quarterfinals, Spain won both of those games by the score of 1-0. Villa scored both of the goals in Spain’s victories.
If Spain is going to win their first World Cup ever on Sunday, Villa will have to lead the way.
The best character by far in this entire World Cup was Diego Maradona. The Argentinean legend had some of the best press conferences and sound bites in soccer history.
His antics on the sideline were priceless, and his passion for the game was unquestionable. Although his side would eventually get blown out by Germany in the quarterfinals, Diego did a fine job as manager.
Many people wanted Maradona to struggle this World Cup, but that didn't bother the little man one bit. He coached his men his way and got the most out of his players throughout the tournament.
Please let him remain as head coach for the 2014 World Cup!!
German forward Miroslav Klose beats out Dutch winger Arjen Robben by a nose. Robben’s downfall was that he hardly played in the group stage because of injury.
The 32-year-old Klose was the Gold Boot winner in the 2006 World Cup, but was not expected to make another run at the award in 2010. Klose surprised everyone by scoring four goals this World Cup.
He now has 14 career goals in the World Cup, putting him only one goal behind all-time leading scorer Ronaldo.
This World Cup will likely be Klose’s last, but he went out with one hell of a bang.