FIFA World Cup 2010: Team of the Tournament
With the World Cup now over for another four years, it's time to decide who were the standout performers in this year's competition.
So, who made my team of the tournament?
Vincent Enyeama (Goalkeeper, Nigeria)
Despite Nigeria’s failure to progress past the opening round of the tournament, Enyeama was the standout goalkeeper in the tournament.
He was also the most tested throughout the competition, as the Nigerian defense offered very little resistance, allowing opponents to pepper his goal with shots.
The shot-stopper was exceptional against Argentina, pulling off several world class saves to prevent Lionel Messi from getting on the score sheet, keeping the Argentinians to just one goal in the process.
Enyeama played brilliantly in all three group games, and would no doubt have continued his fine form into the latter stages had Nigeria made it.
He had an excellent competition, and it may have earned him a move to the English Premier League.
Ironically, rumours suggest he will replace Robert Green at West Ham—a keeper who didn’t have quite such a good competition.
Maicon (Right Back, Brazil)
The Inter Milan defender was exceptional in every match he played. He offered more of a threat going forward than most of the Brazilian attackers, while his defending was practically flawless.
Dangerous on the ball with great crossing, Maicon is now considered the top right back in the world, and he demonstrated why at the World Cup.
He was strong, decisive, controlled in defense, and as such, was very difficult to beat.
The Brazilian also scored one of the goals of the tournament, scoring from a near impossible angle against North Korea.
Phillip Lahm (Left Back, Germany)
Lahm played as a right back throughout the competition, but is an equally capable left back, and it would be unfair to leave him out of the team when he had such a brilliant competition.
Given the German captaincy in the absence of Michael Ballack, Lahm did not disappoint, and he led his team to third place in the competition.
Dangerous in attack, Lahm was also terrific in defense, and like Maicon, was rarely troubled throughout.
A quite brilliant campaign for the Bayern defender, who cemented his place as one of the world’s top full backs.
Sergio Ramos (Centre Back, Spain)
Despite being utilized as a right back for Spain, Ramos’ manager at domestic level, Jose Mourinho, is convinced that Ramos plays better as a centre back, and it would be quite unfair to leave Ramos out of a team just because there were several quality right backs at the competition.
Ramos could walk into any team in the world at centre back or right back, and he demonstrated that at this competition. Reliable, quick, and strong, Ramos was vital to Spain’s excellent defensive record, and was unfortunate not to have a World Cup final goal to his name.
Ignoring the fact that Ramos has displaced another centre backs from the lineup, he is fully deserving of his place in this team, and was a rock throughout Spain’s victorious campaign.
Carles Puyol (Centre Back, Spain)
Another Spaniard at the heart of the defense, Puyol showed why he is rated so highly in Cataluna and was one of the main reasons that they only conceded two goals during the competition.
A natural born leader, Puyol was the captain without the armband for Spain. He scored the goal that helped them overcome Germany and reach the final, but he was the first in line to throw himself in front of shots when Spain came under pressure.
Finally, when Spain were holding onto a lead, Puyol appeared to be the man who cleared every opposition attack. Outstanding throughout, with unrivalled commitment, Puyol was an inspiration to Spain.
Andres Iniesta (Left Midfield, Spain)
The man who won the World Cup for Spain did so much more than that. Injured shortly before the competition, Iniesta shrugged off fitness doubts, and played a vital part in Spain’s victory.
Alongside Xavi, he ran the midfield, and was the reason that Spain dominated their opponent’s in the competition. Unstoppable in possession, Iniesta’s movement and creativity caused problems for all his opponents, and he was at the centre of nearly all Spain’s goals—scoring two himself.
The Barcelona midfielder was terrific, and more than deserved to score the vital goal against the Netherlands.
Alexis Sanchez (Right Midfield, Chile)
One of the breakout performers in the World Cup, at times Sanchez looked like the most dangerous winger in the competition.
He helped Chile to qualify through a tough group and was the main threat to all his opponents, as he ripped Honduras apart, and was equally devastating against the Swiss.
Now tipped to move to one of Europe’s top clubs, with Real Madrid and Manchester United interested, Alexis Sanchez proved he can cut it at the top level. With a stronger team around him, he could work wonders.
His pace and dribbling was exceptional, and if he improved his finishing, he could have scored a hat full of goals. A real pleasure to watch, Sanchez was exciting and brilliant in equal measures.
For such a young player to perform so well on such a grand scale, it was made it all the more impressive.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Centre Midfield, Germany)
The German cemented himself as one of the world’s top midfielders, and was central to Germany’s success, whether it was breaking up opposition attacks, or leading the German charge.
His passing was brilliant, and he was difficult to beat, while protecting his back four.
Good on the ball, and quick to lead the counter attacks that led to so many German goals, Schweinsteiger epitomized the all-action midfielder, and played the role brilliantly.
With 81 caps, and just 25 years old, expect to see a lot more of this man in years to come.
David Villa (Striker, Spain)
The best striker in the world today, and one of the few top players who did not under-perform at the World Cup.
Joint top scorer with five goals, Villa started the competition playing out of position as a left winger.
He scored a sensational goal against Honduras from this position, and had it not been for a missed penalty, would have scored a hat-trick in the game.
Smart, quick, and deadly in front of goal, Villa showed the world what he was capable of, scoring nearly 65% of all the Spanish goals.
A terrific competition from Villa cemented his legacy, as he equaled Spain’s goal scoring record—a record he will soon surpass.
Wesley Sneijder (Center Midfield, Netherlands)
An inspiration for the Netherlands, Sneijder’s five goals from midfield demonstrated how dangerous he is.
Scoring free kicks, headers, powerful drives from outside the box, and one carefully placed finish, the Inter Milan man showed he is a danger from everywhere on the pitch.
His passing was second to none, and his pass in the final to Arjen Robben was the pass of the tournament. Sadly he will not go home from the tournament with a World Cup winner’s medal, but he truly deserved one.
My Player of the Tournament, in a competition where several players really impressed.
Diego Forlan (Striker, Uruguay)
The Uruguay striker also bagged himself five goals and won the FIFA Player of the Tournament award in the process. Few could argue he was one of the standout players in the competition, as his goals fired his nation to fourth place.
A world-class center forward, Forlan looked dangerous in the box, while also played brilliantly while dropping deep to begin attacks.
As the scorer of some spectacular goals, Forlan’s tournament will live long in the memory, and he etched his name into World Cup history.
A truly stunning performance from one of the world’s top strikers.
Arjen Robben (Midfield, Netherlands)
Injury prevented Robben from playing in the first two group games, but his return helped the Dutch reach the final. He scored a brilliant goal against Slovakia, a great header against Uruguay, and was a real threat in the final two matches with his pace.
Eduardo (Goalkeeper, Portugal)
Pulled off some great saves when called upon, and was reliable throughout. Highlighted by some as Portugal’s weakness, he turned out to be anything but.
Asamoah Gyan (Striker, Ghana)
The Ghanaian forward might be remembered for his missed penalty in the quarter finals, but he had a great tournament, and was Africa’s star performer.
Terrific pace and strength, as well as scoring some great goals to boot. He even had the bottle to take a penalty in the shootout, following his miss against Uruguay—he scored with an unstoppable penalty.
Xavi (Midfield, Spain)
Iniesta’s partner in crime, Xavi played as well as he always does for Barcelona. Creative, careful, and intelligent, he is unlucky to miss out on a starting place.
Luis Fabiano (Striker, Brazil)
Showed his power, pace, and goalscoring ability all in one. Scored three excellent goals, and a had one terrific tournament.
Maxi Pereira (Right Back, Uruguay)
The right back was dangerous going forward, and solid in defense. He was only on the bench due to terrific performances from the tournament’s other right backs, but he scored a great goal against the Dutch to boot.
Paulo da Silva (Center Back, Paraguay)
At the heart of the Paraguayan defense, he had a top performance which led to the South Americans conceding just two goals. With exceptional commitment and concentration, he was a rock on defense all tournament.
Rest of The Squad
Miroslav Klose (Striker, Germany)
Unlucky to miss out on becoming the World Cup’s record goalscorer, but he is another great competitor, and his movement is second to none.
Fabio Contraeo (Left Back, Portugal)
The top natural left back in the tournament, he was Portugal’s top performer. A real breakout star thanks to his reliable defending, and excellent attacking qualities.
Mesut Ozil (Midfield, Germany)
The German was inconsistent, but when he played well, he looked like one of the best in the world. His performances against Australia, Ghana, and England were sensational.
Kevin Prince Boateng (Midfield, Ghana)
Quality in possession, he was the creative force for Ghana in their campaign. He also scored a brilliant goal against USA.
Lucio (Center Back, Brazil)
Solid and dependable as ever, Lucio showed the commitment that Puyol demonstrated for Spain, and is a very difficult player to get the better of.
Thomas Mueller (Midfield/Striker, Germany)
The winner of the Golden Boot misses out, but was vital to Germany, and will become central to their next World Cup campaign.
John Mensah (Centre Back, Ghana)
Was excellent at the heart of a strong, fast, and organised defence with his partner, Jonathan.
Jonathan Mensah (Centre Back, Ghana)
Known by his first name, he is the partner of the man above and had quite a tournament as well.
Raul Meireles (Center Midfield, Portugal)
Had a great competition, and played well throughout. Good box-to-box midfielder.
Luis Suarez (Striker, Uruguay)
Had a great competition, and appears equally capable of playing in goal, scoring a stunning goal against South Korea.
Oscar Tabarez (Manager, Uruguay)
Led Uruguay to fourth place, creating a strong, disciplined unit with plenty of creativity.
Has helped his nation climb to sixth place in the FIFA World Rankings, and can be very proud of what his side have achieved.
Excellent tactician, and deserves a lot of the credit for Uruguay’s brilliant campaign.