As the World Cup comes to a close on Sunday, I have decided to pick my eleven players I would want representing my team. The biggest headline out of all of this is that not many of your superstars are on my list. In fact, most of them had disappointing tournaments, yeah I’m talking to you, Anelka, Rooney and Ribery. It’s funny how Nike spent all that money for this great World Cup commercial to see all those superstars fall flat on their face. Well here’s my starting eleven.
Goalkeeper– Iker Casillas, Spain
I picked him to be the goalkeeper of the tournament and he hasn’t disappointed yet. He’s done a great job positioning himself making sure of cutting off angles to prevent good looks. He is yet to give up a goal in the knock out stage which is outstanding. Not to mention that huge penalty save against Paraguay. Hell, he shouldn’t have given up any goals, the Swiss got lucky with that gaff of a goal and Chile scored off a deflection. Either way, Casillas has met all expectations from me. Now he has the biggest game of his life left. The Final.
Defenders– Philipp Lahm (Germany), Yuji Nakazawa (Japan), Carles Puyol (Spain), Maicon (Brazil)
Many were writing Germany off once their captain Ballack went down, but Lahm has taken over the reigns with authority. His unaccounted leadership has been crucial as he lead Germany to back to back semi-final appearances. Germany has given up very few goals thanks to Lahm, but they have also scored the many goals thanks to Lahm as well. The ability for Lahm to push up and deliver deadly crosses to Klose or Podolski has been crucial to their attacking success. Lahm expressed his desire to take over Germany’s captaincy and is making a strong case for it.
Nakazawa is only one of three Japanese players to have over a hundred caps for their national team, and he has shown his experience all throughout the World Cup. He led Japan’s stingy defense into reaching the knockout round on foreign soil for the first time in their nation’s history. This vet was all over the place on defense. His ability to read the passing lanes is outstanding , not to mention his ability to win balls in the air. Look for him to go down as one of Japan’s best central defenders ever.
The Barcelona captain has been nothing less than outstanding so far. His experience and soccer intelligence has given other teams fits, as Spain earned four shutouts out of six matches thus far. He also scored the game winning goal against Germany, earning Spain’s first World Cup final. He makes a good case to be known as one of Spain’s best defenders in their history.
Maicon picked up right where he left off, as he had a great season with Inter Milan. That translated into the World Cup. Not only is he a great defender, but he is a threat on the offensive end. He has the speed and skill to push up and get back on defense. Just ask the North Koreans what happened when they gave him too much room to operate.
Midfielders– Angel Di Maria (Argentina), Keisuke Honda (Japan), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), Thomas Muller (Germany)
With all the big names like Messi, Tevez, and Higuain many people overlooked Di Maria. Di Maria, quietly, had a very solid tournament. He has the skills to become a star player, but what I like the most about him, is his ability to possess the ball. He holds the ball very well and is great whenever he has his back turned to his defenders. Look for him to transfer from Benefica to a big name club sometime this summer. He deserves it.
Could Honda finally be the big Japanese star since Hidetoshi Nakata? Sure looks like it. Honda came through when Japan needed him to as they were able to reach the knock out stages. Honda possess the savvy techniques that you mainly see in South American players. Just watch that dirty cut back he had when setting up the third goal against Denmark and that nasty 30 yard free kick. Honda has all the raw skills to becoming a great football player.
Sneijder picked up right where he left off after having a great season for Inter Milan. Many questioned whether he can perform like this in the big stages, well he proved y’all wrong. We all knew he has the individual still to become a star, but his patience and composure have been the difference maker. After going down early against Brazil, he was able to regroup and score both goals helping Netherlands advance to the semi’s and they would eventually reach the final. Sneijder has really stepped up his game in the knock out stages, where he has netted four of his five goals.
This has been a coming out party for Muller as he has scored four goals for Germany, not to mention three assists. Not many people knew who this youngster was but they do now, just ask the English national team. He is excellent at attacking the open spaces in the midfield and knows how to pick its poison. He also posses excellent vision in tight spaces. Only if he were able to play against Spain. It could have made a difference. At only 20 years of age look for Muller to only get better.
Forwards– Diego Forlan (Uruguay), David Villa (Spain)
Forlan has been a goal scoring machine for the last couple of seasons at Atletico Madrid and hasn’t stopped at the World Cup. What makes Forlan such a threat is his ability to shoot with both feet. His left footed shots have just as much pace and accuracy as his right footed shots. You don’t see many players who can shoot with such velocity with both feet. Not only that, his ability to posses the ball, maneuver in space, and find open players has been a big factor in Uruguay’s success. Uruguay did most of their damage off quick counter attacks, which started from Forlan’s possession and vision. Ever since being rejected at Manchester United, Forlan has been one of the best strikers in the world. I wonder how all those Man Utd fans feel now. I would love to have Forlan over Berbatov any day. Berbatov blows a big one.
Villa was one of the big favorites to win the Golden Boot award and it is looking likely now. Villa is tied with Sneijder for most goals with five a piece. Villa is a threat to score in various of ways. He has been huge for Spain as he hit the game winners in the round of 16 and quarterfinal. Can he score in the biggest game of his life? We’ll just have to wait until Sunday.
As for my World Cup final prediction between the Netherlands and Spain, I’m going to have to go for the Netherlands. Even though Spain are favored something tell me it’s the Dutch’s time also I rather see the underdog win. Sneijder and Van Persie get on the score sheet as Netherlands prevail 2-1 in extra-time. Either way this final should be special as neither team has hoisted the trophy before. Which team will hoist it for the first time on Sunday night?
Note: Paul the Octopus picked Spain so in other words, my predicion is once again going to be incorrect. Damn you, Paul.