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Soccer America World Cup XI
by SA Editorial, July 12th, 2010 2:33AM

TAGS:  germany, netherlands, spain, world cup


[BEST OF THE WORLD CUP] Spain, winner of its first World Cup with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands in Sunday's final, dominated the Soccer America World Cup XI with seven selections.
Goalkeeper -- Iker Casillas. Spain’s captain gets the nod over Maarten Stekelenburg of the Netherlands. Casillas wasn’t needed much early in the tournament, but in the knockout rounds his key saves enabled Spain to post four straight shutouts. He staved off Dutch star Arjen Robben several times in the final.
Defenders – Only Dutch left back Giovanni van Bronckhorst breaks up a set of Spaniards. His spectacular goal sent the Dutch on their way to a 3-2 win in the semifinals and his experience and leadership marshaled a sometimes rickety defense.

Right back Sergio Ramos prompted several attacks down his right flank and he tested Stekelenburg early in the final with a strong header.

Carles Puyol’s header off a Xavi corner kick broke a scoreless deadlock in the semifinal with Germany, and he formed a solid barrier along with Gerard Pique to frustrate opponents.
Midfielders – Dutchman Wesley Sneijder shared the tournament lead with five goals, which he scored in a variety of ways, and he also contributed plays like his long ball to Robben to break open the round-of-16 game with Slovakia. His through balls to Robben in the final deserved better finishes.

Bastian Schweinsteiger’s defensive savvy and attacking edge drove Germany to third place, and his mazy run past three opponents to set up a goal in the 4-0 quarterfinal rout of Argentina epitomized his value.

Andres Iniesta netted the winner deep into overtime of the final to cap off a consistently impressive tournament, aided greatly by Xavi. With solid backing from their teammates, Iniesta and Xavi prompted control by seemingly endless sequences of movement and passes.
Forwards – David Villa scored five of Spain’s first six goals in the tournament to give some definition to its dominant play. Uruguayan Diego Forlan matched that total and won the Golden Ball as the competition’s top player with an amazing display of flair, stamina and heart.
Reserves -- Maarten Stekelenburg (Netherlands), Diego Lugano (Uruguay), Phillip Lahm (Germany), Thomas Mueller (Germany), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana), Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina).

Soccer America Readers: What is your World Cup XI? Let us know in the comments below.

  1. Robert w Tinney
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 8:07 a.m.
    I would add Jorge Fucile, outside back for Uruguay, to your list of reserves.

  1. Peter Gutsche
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 8:32 a.m.
    I'm not sure how Miro Klose could possibly be left off this list? He scored 4 goals in 2 less matches than everyone else listed, and he also became the 2nd overall leading goal getter in all time.

  1. matthew segal
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 9:31 a.m.
    I would take out gyan out of reserves and put messi in

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 10:18 a.m.
    Pique does not deserve to be among the best eleven -- a number of central defenders were better. Agreed that Fucile and Messi deserve mention. And it may be heresy, but the best keeper I saw was Villar of Paraguay. The performance against Japan was special.

  1. Gene Jay
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 10:33 a.m.
    I'm a USA homer, but would include Donovan in the reserves. Spectacular goals and single handedly got USA into round of 16 in place of Lahm or Stekelenburg

  1. Theodore Eison
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 10:41 a.m.
    How can you not have Mueller in the first 11? Take out Villa and put him out there. Spain wouldn't have made the final if Mueller hadn't been given the phantom yellow card.

  1. David V
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 11:23 a.m.
    Theodore, we could do all the what-if's in the world... which is what you were doing with Mueller... Villa carried Spain to the Final, he did not score the last two games because he was taken out of his natural position (Torres poor form after the surgeries)... at that point, I knew he was doomed not to score and take the golden boot. Had he been able to play wide, had Torres, or another viable option been available, then he surely would have scored at least one more goal and won the golden boot... and probably player of the tournament as well, having scored in the final and had glory in the Final... I truly believe he would have been all of those, but it did *not* happen, so you see, you can't play on the what-ifs...Spain did win the Final, overcoming 6 months of injuries and most teams gunning for the #1 team (FIFA ranking for many months prior to the tournament... the team which had beaten Germany, England (2x), France, Argentina, Italy (2x), etc)... very difficult to have all the teams packing the back on you... if they had been under the radar, Spain would have had several multi-goal games, more than Germany- but that's another What IF... Villa deserves it

  1. James Madison
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 1:06 p.m.
    Add Messi, Robben and Xavi somewhere

  1. Karl Ortmertl
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 2:57 p.m.
    Its funny, but Arjen Robben is considered one of the best in the world and got an honorable mention here despite blowing two wide open opportunities in the final. A couple of guys who would have tucked those two away, guaranteed, are Donovan and Milito, both of whom recently demonstrated on big stages what they could do in a similar situation. Neither got any air play here. Robben is good at long hard curling kicks and is very fast, but brought nothing to the table when he needed to use a little finesse.

  1. Paul Lorinczi
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 3:24 p.m.
    What? No American defenders on the list? :-0

  1. Marc Satterly
    commented on: July 12, 2010 at 7:42 p.m.
    The Paraguayan centerback DA SILVA was unbeatable one v one and good in the air as well for smallish player. TULIO TANAKA was superb for Japan in the center of defense in the aerial duels and good with the ball at his feet. Another superb player for Japan was HONDA. He dazzled with his skills and gave the Japanese a confident attacker that they usually lack. LANDON DONOVAN deserves a mention. Don't be afraid to mention great players from teams that didn't have a big impact on the tournament.

  1. marc meijer
    commented on: July 13, 2010 at 10:42 a.m.
    everyone has looked over the fact that all of the mids are center mids. I this is about only the best XI then I guess there should be no necessity for positions, but if this is supposed to be about best XI in a given position it calls for wingers. It seems the writer was torn between the two and accomplished only one, badly. Is this about a players performance for his squad as far as they went or is it about players whose squads lasted longest. How about a couple of African keepers,Enyama or Kingson to start with. If the squad in front of you does the job you have very little to do, Like Steckelenburg, Casillas,or Neuer. None of the last four had nearly the work to do that Enyama had.How Honda, or Hamsik or KP Boateng. So the list goes on. Figure out what the article is intended to achieve and or at least define the parameters of the list a bit more.

  1. David V
    commented on: July 13, 2010 at 12:33 p.m.
    Karl, I agree with your points about Lando and Milito, but you have to have Milito before that, and Villa at the top... Villa would have put them away... here's a treat for you.... and find the multimedia section with his top 7 goals... now wonder why Four Four Two called him europe's most wanted and deadliest hit man after the Euros... He's now champ!

  1. David V
    commented on: July 13, 2010 at 12:36 p.m.
    Oops, forgot to say take a look at this... on Spain's road to the final: it may not be there long so don't wait

  1. Steven&linda Pedlow
    commented on: July 13, 2010 at 5:46 p.m.
    This is the laziest Best 11 I have ever seen. Just pick the whole Spanish team, oh maybe include 4 token exceptions (2 from the runner-up). Plenty of other GKs to choose from. Pique was ordinary, Puyol was special. The best U.S. player was Clint Dempsey, and no, I don't think he deserves a Best 11 selection. Donovan had the U.S goal of the tournament (against Slovenia!), but his other two goals were created by Dempsey (one a PK and one a rebound).

  1. David Crowther
    commented on: July 13, 2010 at 9:25 p.m.
    Pretty good selection. But I do agree with others that Muller and Fucile should be on the Best XI, as well as that Messi, Donovan and Da Silva deserve to be among your reserves. Robben and Gyan (only one goal from the run of play) should be dropped. I also notice a shortage of defensive midfielders on your list, so let’s give an honorable mention to Busquets and Perez.

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