World Cup Final 2010: Best Starting 11
Here I select the best combined starting 11 players from the two World Cup 2010 finalists, Spain and the Netherlands. I have utilized a 4-3-3 formation, which both teams have favored throughout the tournament. Hope you all enjoy the match!
Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas
While prone to the occasional slip-up, especially on set-pieces, "San Iker" has been mostly rock-solid for Spain in their quest for World Cup glory. When called on, he has made important saves, and can be credited with keeping Spain in the tournament in their quarterfinal match vs. Paraguay via his second half penalty save.
Casillas secures his place due to Dutch keeper Stekelenberg's suspect positioning and nervy display against Uruguay.
Centre-Backs: Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique
The trusty Barcelona pairing have put in several world class displays for "la Seleccion." Even before "el Tiburon" Puyol headed Spain into the final, he and his Catalan teammate have epitomized the heart and bravery shown by the Spanish squad, breaking up countless attacks, throwing themselves at seemingly every opposition attempt (see Pique's numerous facial injuries), and bringing the ball up to midfield.
They dealt comfortably with Germany's trident threat of Klose-Ozul-Podolski, and have both had great seasons at Barcelona.
Right-Back: Gregory Van der Wiel
A breakout star from the famed Ajax Academy, he just edges out Sergio Ramos due to his more balanced performances.
Van der Wiel has both defended and attacked with controlled fervency. At just 22, the young Dutchman's judgment, positioning, link-up play, and composure has catapulted him onto the radar of some of Europe's biggest clubs. He has not made any mistakes in the tournament and looks set to leave Ajax in the near future.
While Ramos is more of an attacking full-back, with an unstoppable penchant for going forward, he occasionally leaves his right side vulnerable and has not looked as balanced as Van der Wiel.
Left-Back: Giovanni Van Bronckhorst
One sign of a good full-back is a lack of action on their side of the field. While never a defensive-specialist, and at 35 years old, not the athlete he once was, the former Barcelona man has put in several steady, and composed performances for the "Oranje."
His 40-yard stunner against Uruguay has my vote for Goal of the Tournament. A class act and inspirational captain, Giovanni, if anyone, deserves his World Cup Final appearance.
Defensive-Midfielder: Mark van Bommel
Another former Barca man, Van Bommel seems to really relish his defensive work in the middle of the field. A nasty tackler, with a tendency to be overly physical, van Bommel has been an absolute work horse and midfield general at the World Cup so far.
Less technical than his battery-mate on La Roja, Sergi Busquets, but more of a leader, and absolutely crucial to the Netherlands as he protects the back four and allows others in front of him the space necessary to do their jobs.
van Bommel known for his long shots as well. He's picked up right where he left off with Bayern Munich.
Centre-Midfielder: Xavi Hernandez
Xavi is arguably the best passer in the world and undoubtedly one of the best players of his generation. If Puyol and Pique are the heart and soul (of both the Spanish National Team and Barcelona), then Xavi is the brain.
Blessed with unequaled vision, intelligence, passing range, and technical ability, Xavi is arguably the most important player on the pitch for la Roja. He has yet to set the World Cup on fire the way he does for Barca with his lane-cutting passes and assists. Xavi has been typically shackled and harassed by two or more opposition players throughout the tournament. That still has not stopped him from dictating Spain's rhythm or setting up the killer ball for his teammates.
Always a threat from set-pieces, his pinpoint corner versus Germany lead to Puyol's header and Spain's only goal of the game.
Attacking-Midfielder: Wesley Sneijder
Another Ajax product, now in the prime of his career, Sneijder is on the verge of completing one of the most successful seasons in world football history.
Sneijder was instrumental in having lead Inter Milan to a Champions League, Serie A, and Coppa Italia treble. Even more impressively, the Netherlands No. 10 is tied with forward David Villa for the golden shoe at this World Cup with five goals, and HE'S A MIDFIELDER!
What Xavi lacks in shooting ability, Sneijder possesses with both feet. His movement, passing, shooting, and tempo-setting abilities are world class. For me, he is second only to Xavi as the world's best midfielder.
Right-Wing Forward: Arjen Robben
The Bayern Munich speedster was inspirational in the Dutch victories over Cameroon in the group stage, and Slovakia in their first knockout round match, scoring one of the goals of the tournament.
Ever the unpredictable spark-plug, Robben is a world-beater with a turn of pace, close control, and sheer velocity only matched by Argentina's Lionel Messi. He's at his best cutting in from the right wing.
His only blight is his tendency to go to ground too easily, and his selfishness. Nevertheless, he remains one of the most exciting players to watch. Good luck defending him Capdevila, you'll certainly need it!
Left-Wing Forward: Andres Iniesta
For me, watching "el calvito," aka Andres Iniesta play football is one of the greatest forms of entertainment. Iniesta, especially when combining with Barcelona teammate Xavi, is a true game-changer.
With his glue-like close control, ability to hold the ball, and his intelligent movement and reading of the game, Iniesta allows Spain's other attacking players to get in scoring positions.
He can comfortably play anywhere in the midfield, or up front, Iniesta remains one of the world's only pure footballers. By that, I mean that he possesses a complete set of skills (passing, dribbling, shooting) and an incredible football brain. Wayne Rooney spoke the truth after the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final when he said that Iniesta was "the best in the world."
Centre Forward: David Villa
Tied for the golden shoe with five goals to his name at this tournament, David Villa may be the most complete forward in the world. He has shown up the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, Didier Drogba, and even much-maligned teammate Fernando Torres with his timely scoring, never-say-die attitude, and skillful displays.
Having created six of Spain's seven goals at the World Cup so far, with five goals and one assist, Villa seems to be loving every moment on the pitch.
A pacy and consistent goal-scorer with underrated technical ability, Villa can play either as a lone-forward, or deeper on the left wing, where he can cross the ball or cut into the box to score spectacular goals, as he did against Honduras.
Villa must be relishing his upcoming season with Barcelona where he will no doubt profit from the world class passing and talents around him (Messi, Ibrahimovic, Xavi, Iniesta).