[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.
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.