The Best 11 of the 2010 World Cup and Their 11 Subs
A lot of discussion is taking place...but the best 11 players and runners up of this World Cup are rather clear cut.
The formation of choice is 4-2-3-1 as it was the most fashionably successful tactical lineup employed by the best teams in South Africa 2010.
It’s the pleasure and privilege granted to those sods that have spent considerable time covering the World Cup to sum up...so here goes my pleasurable privilege...
Best Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas
Despite having critics and not being tested as much as some other goalkeepers, Real Madrid's shot stopper was vital in Spain's most difficult moments on its road to the final. He was present with legendary composure to sweep up Spanish mistakes. He produced a penalty save against Paraguay, two key saves against Paraguay, and two fantastic one-on-one saves versus Holland in the final.
Substitute Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer
The 24-year-old German goalkeeper had a very strong tournament despite letting in four goals. He was called upon quite often, and was especially fantastic in crucial group matches against Serbia and Ghana.
Best Right Back: Sergio Ramos
The Castrol Statistics have pointed to him as the best player in the tournament, but the Madrid right back was much more than statistics...he was unpredictable in offense and complete in defense and a noticeable strength in the Spanish champion's tactics.
Substitute Right Back: Jorge Fucile
Uruguay's atomic right (or left) back deserves the highest praise for his energy and dynamism he added to the Uruguay team. Although a tight call with Holland's Van der Wiel, his contributions were so consistently energetic that he deserves to be named in the tournament's 22...especially for his defensive, if not offensive, input.
Right Center Back: Carles Puyol
He cannot be praised enough, if only for his spectacular non-fouling of Robben in the above pictured breakaway situation during the final. Puyol brought his wealth of speed, technique and defensive mastery to Spain and Spain are champions. What else can be said? He promised to let Capdevilla shave his head if Spain won!
Puyol's Sub: Gerard Pique
Puyol's defensive partner is outstanding at 23, and their fantastic club partnership brought to the World Cup has been a rock on which opposition offenses were destroyed. He made up for Puyol's weakness in the air in fantastic fashion.
Left Central Defender: Diego Lugano
Although he faltered for half a second against Germany, he was extraordinary until that point, captaining an impressive and fearsome Uruguayan defense to a fourth-place finish.
Lugano's Sub: Juan
The old stalwart's sportsmanlike play to a world class of defensive ability makes him often go unnoticed. His goal against Chile not only was the match decider, but was excellent, and the veteran's defending deserves the highest praise.
Left Back: Gio van Bronckhorst
The Dutch captain's goal against Uruguay was stunning, and his play was consistently magnificent. He was different from a long line of hot-headed Dutch captains and deserves much credit for their attaining the final in defensive and offensive contributions.
Gio's Sub: Philipp Lahm
The German captain had a quiet but methodically excellent tournament. Unlike his previous highly offensive contributions, it's Lahm that made Germany so hard to attack and produced two excellent goal-line saves: One was Ghana's equalizer and the other was an early opportunity for Argentina's Higuain that could have affected that game.
Defensive Midfielder: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Converted into a central defensive mid for the German national team, he has played better in his new role than his traditional one...so much so that he provided his team with three assists and was the tempo-setting engine that ripped through the middle of Argentina, Australia and England.
Schweini's Sub: Anthony Annan
The Ghanaian received too little attention this World Cup for his superb defensive midfield role with Ghana, which replaced Michael Essien and Stephen Appiah flawlessly. The 23-year-old Rosenborg Trondheim player is a star in the Norwegian League but should soon be on his way to a major European club. His energy, passing, positioning and tackling is what made Ghana such a hard team to attack, and why they never conceded more than one goal in a game.
Central Midfield Playmaker: Xavi
Barcelona's Xavi is now one of the few players in history that has won every major tournament open to him, and although some critics question his ability, they don't understand that his intelligence on the ball, distribution, passing, and movement is key to what makes Spain such a tough side to beat. Xavi was a definite candidate for player of the tournament, and one of the few implacable players for Spain.
Xavi's replacement: Sergi Busquets
There is only one possibility here: Xavi's club colleague Sergi Busquets played a more covering role for Spain, but has let the world forget he is only 21 with his complete midfield play. His passing and playmaking is not yet where Xavi's is, but for having squeezed Cesc Fabregas out of the team, Sergi will be taking over Xavi's role as the mainstay of the Spanish team for years to come.
Central Attacking Midfielder: Wesley Sneijder
The most consistent Dutch player, Sneijder almost added the World Cup to his European treble. He is one of those players who makes brilliance look easy. His five goals, including two superb goals against Brazil, are the main reasons Holland made the final despite some players underperforming. Most of the goals, if they didn't look spectacular, had to be created from deep inside midfield out of nothing.
Sneijder's Sub: Mesut Ozil
He is developing into something of a German Iniesta. Ozil's simple, no-nonsense attacking midfield play exemplifies the European dominance of this World Cup. His passing (three assists), and one goal for Germany have placed him among the world elites from relative obscurity.
Right Winger: Thomas Mueller
The 20-year-old emerged out of semi-professional division obscurity with Bayern Munich last September, forcing star strikers Luca Toni and Mario Gomez to the bench with his goalscoring before going on to become the discovery of the season in the Bundesliga, the discovery of the Champion's League with his assists and goals, helping Bayern to the final, a surprise uncapped inclusion in Joachim Low's provisional World Cup squad, a surprise in the final team still with 0 appearances for Germany, a surprise starter against Australia, a surprise first-goal scorer of the tournament for Germany, and a surprise tournament assist leader and top scorer to win the golden boot. How much more can this young lad do? His offensive ability is second to few. Although he looks ungraceful when he plays, he has an incredible gift of efficiency and results already worthy of the most legendary German players. He had five goals and three assists, but his lack of experience prevented him from imposing himself on tougher opposition.
His absence for Germany made them falter against Spain, and his return made them overcome Uruguay.
Mueller's sub: Keisuke Honda
I am going to reach considerably further back in the tournament for this one and give it to a Japanese player who was crucial to his successful team...although playing as a striker here, many will soon discover what he is really capable of in his right wing position. His two goals and one assist were compiled with exceptional passing and decision making for Japan. He deserves to be included as a right wing sub for Mueller and beats out the competition from the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Pedro, Cavani and Andre Ayew.
Left Attacking Midfielder: Andres Iniesta
Despite all of the drunk commentary on the internet about this player, no one deserved more to score the World Cup's decisive goal than Andres Iniesta. Spain are an excellent team, but it's the creative solution-finding of Iniesta that takes them the 500 steps to becoming World Champion. For all the ungrounded accusations of diving by people who obviously never played a serious game of football in their life, and who oogle at Cristiano Ronaldo and Robinho commercials, Iniesta's intellgence and practical genius made him far superior in this tournament and in recent years than either of those two more famous players...he celebrated his historic goal with a tribute to Daniel Jarque, the tragically deceased colleague of cross-town rivals Espanyol, and there is no more fitting demonstration of humility to humble all his over-hyped, over-commercialized competitors. Iniesta has always been a big-game player, and although he doesn't sweep his feet over the ball 19 times before hitting it, I agree with Wayne Rooney in saying Iniesta is currently at the top of the world's game.
Iniesta's Sub: Dirk Kuyt
Elano was fantastic, but injury stopped him. Robben scored two and had an assist before resorting to unsportsmanlike anti-football, Podolski had two and two but was very on and off in the later stages, Luis Suarez had three and two, but his handball goal was atrocious and he should not be included in protest...that makes the choice tough.
Dirk Kuyt worked hard and could have done better than his goal and three assists. He should be included because his running and work should be an example to the English and French national teams. Besides Sneijder and De Jong, he was the most important Dutch player.
Striker: Diego Forlan
Even if he didn't receive the Golden Ball for player of the tournament there would be no hesitation...Diego Forlan was the most unstoppable player in this tournament. His five five-star goals were all technical masterpieces, especially his goal against Germany, which is technically one of the most difficult goals of all time in a World Cup. His assist to Luis Suarez against South Korea was another moment of genius in a truly brilliant career...AND he found time to share the fantastic atmosphere in the Uruguay camp with fans on Twitter and YouTube.
Forlan's Sub: David Villa
Dribbled, was brilliant and sensational, but had better service than Forlan. Villa was almost the best forward in this tournament. His five goals and one assist were crucial for Spain, especially when they struggled to get going.