Spain Well Represented in A Different League’s Team of the World Cup

With the eighth different name inscribed on the World Cup trophy it is time to reflect on the individuals who have made this South African World Cup a tournament full of color from the outset. The past four weeks have been jam-packed with surprises, not least because some of the world’s leading names failed to stamp their mark in South Africa, a task that makes forming this year’s team of the tournament very tricky indeed.

Goalkeeper

Maarten Stekelenburg- Netherlands

The men between the sticks live and die by their mistakes, but Stekelenburg can have no worries after an almost faultless tournament in the Netherlands goal. A string of terrific saves from his 6’6” frame, particularly from Kaka in the quarter-final helped guide his team to the final.

Right back

Sergio Ramos- Spain

Ramos’ runs down the right hand side, as he joined in with attacks at every opportunity were metronomic. In the defensive third of the pitch his strength and pace saw him dismiss the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lucas Podolski. He can now be considered amongst the best in his position in the world.

Centre-back

Carlos Puyol- Spain

Puyol’s dominance in the Spanish back four was the cornerstone of their victory. While Arjen Robben might have exposed his lack of pace in the final, the Barcelona man retains most of the attributes of a top centre-back. His headed goal in the semifinal against Germany secured their final spot.

Centre-back

Diego Lugano- Uruguay

Any of Uruguay’s back four could have been included in this 11, but their captain Lugano gets the nod after leading his team to the semi-finals from the back. Lugano went about his business efficiently – leading a defence breached just twice before Uruguay’s unfortunate defeat to the Netherlands.

Left-back

Carlos Salcido- Mexico

Yet another full back with few inhibitions about galloping forward, Salcido created excellent width in the attacking third and provided a final ball when required. He was part of the back four that conceded just once in the group stage, but succumbed to a controversial defeat by Argentina.

Right-midfield

Landon Donovan- United States

Players with an ability to light up the mundane sides attract attention, and Donovan’s performances for United States showed just that. He was the driving force behind their passage to the last-16, pouncing in the final minute of stoppage time against Algeria to assure Bob Bradley’s side a spot in the knock out phase.

Centre-midfield

Bastian Schweinsteiger- Germany

Once a winger, now converted to anchor the German midfield in his fourth international tournament, he helped Joachim Loew’s young side to the semi-final with some special performances. The proposition of Javier Mascherano in the quarterfinal didn’t seem to faze him, as he set up two of the goals during a mesmeric showing.

Centre-midfield

Andres Iniesta- Spain

Iniesta is one of the finest technicians in the world game. A player with a keen eye for goal, more important still is his timing. Who can forget his last minute equalizer at Stamford Bridge to send Barcelona through to the 2009 Uefa Champions League final at Chelsea’s expense? His winner in the 116th minute of the World Cup final cements that reputation and will be forever remembered in Spanish folklore. The 26-year old was prominently involved in the final third where his accurate passing and callousness in front of goal caught the eye.

Left-midfield

Wesley Sneijder- Netherlands

Having scored five goals during the Netherlands’ run to the final Sneijder’s case for inclusion is difficult to ignore. His goals against Brazil arguably defined his and the Netherlands’ tournament – pragmatic and decisive rather than beautiful. His determination was what Netherlands required, and calmness on the ball proved priceless.

Striker

Diego Forlan- Uruguay

Forlan combined sheer will to win with dazzling quality in front of goal. From his dipper against South Africa to his swirling free kick against Ghana, Uruguay’s successes in the tournament were often owed to him. As well as being justifiably named player of the tournament, he was the width of crossbar away from the golden boot.

Striker

David Villa- Spain

So often the go-to guy when Spain needed a breakthrough, five of Spain’s eight goals during the finals were scored by Villa. His first goal against Honduras will be particularly remembered, firing into the far corner after a jinking run from the left-hand side. Barcelona fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of him linking up with Xavi and Iniesta each week.

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