HIT Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
HIT Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
Few would have guessed that a 32-year old forward from Uruguay would win the Golden Ball award for the 2010 World Cup.
Diego Forlan has had the tournament of his life, single-handedly taking a very average Uruguayan team to the semi-finals of the World Cup.
He’s scored five goals, made over 300 passes, and covered 73km in his seven matches. He did everything for the team, from orchestrating all attacking play to taking all of Uruguay’s dead-ball kicks.
Mark him tightly and he’d just send the ball through for his strikers; give him space and he’d send a scorcher towards goal. The Athletico Madrid forward simply did everything he needed to.
What’s more, Forlan was able to keep his form throughout the tournament, carrying the South Americans to their best finish in 40 years. A worthy winner of the Player of the Tournament award.
MISS Wayne Rooney (England)
Wayne Rooney had an amazing season for Manchester United, scoring goals by the bucket-load and terrorising defences.
The talented forward was expected to carry this form into the World Cup and make South Africa 2010 be remembered for his performances in the same way that Italia 1990 was remembered for Paul Gascoigne’s.
But it wasn’t to be, as Rooney quietly went home after playing four matches without scoring any goals, or even threatening to do so.
Amazingly, the man who scored 34 goals in the previous season only managed to have six shots on target during this World Cup.
HIT Thomas Mueller (Germany)
The Golden Boot and Best Young Player winner, Thomas Mueller, (20), represents a new generation of European footballers.
He isn’t flashy or flamboyant with the ball at his feet, and doesn’t monopolise tabloid magazine headlines. He just gets the job done.
Mueller’s goal in the third place play-off that clinched him the top scorer award might have been a simple tap-in, but it symbolised everything that this young midfielder is about – reliability.
Mueller has shown what football should be like with a maturity on the field that belies his age. He has a high work-rate, tracks back to help his defence out, can be found lurking in the penalty area, and is always a threat from outside the box.
What’s more, the fact that he doesn’t sulk when fouled and, despite his talent, has managed to avoid becoming a spoilt prima donna like Christiano Ronaldo, makes him the perfect role-model for any aspiring footballer.
MISS Lionel Messi (Argentina)
The World Footballer of the Year had great expectations coming into the tournament in South Africa, and while he didn’t disappoint completely, he certainly wasn’t at his best.
The Barcelona man could do nothing to help Argentina from losing dramatically to Germany in the quarter-final and miss out on a World Cup title that is the only trophy missing from his list of honours.
Though he did set up a goal or two, and ran at defences with considerable pace and intent, Messi lacked the killer strike that has devastated European opposition over the past few years.
HIT The entire Germany team
When Germany beat Australia 4 – 0 in their opening game, people were only slightly impressed. It was only Australia.
Then they beat England in the Round of 16, again putting four goals into the net. This time, it was down to bad refereeing and a bit of good luck after England decided to go all out in attack.
Then came the tournament favourites Argentina in the quarters, who Germany sent back home by whacking four past them without reply.
Finally, everyone sat up to take notice. This Germany team is looking as good, if not better than the team that won the 1990 tournament.
You’d hardly have noticed that skipper Michael Ballack was missing and that the side that has played this year has been one of the youngest at the tournament. Expect the team to impress even more at Euro 2012 and Brazil 2014.
MISS The entire Italy team
Italy had no excuse for not qualifying for the second round. As defending champions, they had failed to pick up a win in their first two games against Paraguay and New Zealand, and only needed a draw against Slovakia to go through.
They lost, and were dumped out of the tournament after conceding more goals than they had in the entire 2006 tournament.
There can be no sympathy for the Azzuri, because if you can’t beat New Zealand with a team of World Cup champions, you deserve to go home.
HIT Andries Iniesta
It was fitting that the unsung hero in the Spain team scored the goal that won them their first World Cup title.
For much of the tournament, La Roja’s success has been attributed to the strength of their defence, the passing ability of Xavi and the goals from David Villa, and rightly so.
Iker Casillas and his back four only conceded two goals in the tournament, Xavi completed a whopping 669 passes, and Villa scored five goals, four of them being deciders in a game.
But Iniesta was the man who brought it all together, moving tirelessly across the middle of the park to create the space in which the rest of the midfield could do their thing.
The Barcelona man also fed Xavi with the ball, with the two over 130 passes in the six games they played together, most of them made from the centre of the field.
Iniesta is the engine of a team that is shaping up to begin an era of Spanish dominance in the international game.
MUCH, MUCH MORE THAN A MISS
The entire France team France behaved like a bunch of spoilt brats at this World Cup. Let alone personal spats with controversial coach Raymond Domenech, the fact that the team refused to attend a public training session days before their final group match has shown how footballers and their egos have brought the game into disrepute.
While many would have given their right leg to play at a World Cup, the ingrates from France involved themselves in squabbles that ensured that they left the tournament without a win and at the bottom of a group they were favourites to top.