Now that the World Cup has ended, it's time to select the best XI of the tournament. ESPN's Soccernet.com already picked eleven, playing a deep 4 -2-3-1. I'm going to do the same, with some players being the same and some being different. With each player I select, I will also state ESPN's pick.
Formation: 4 - 2 - 3 - 1 (not deep)
Goalkeeper - My Pick: Maarten Stekelenburg ESPN's: Eduardo
- ESPN picked Eduardo since he allowed only one goal all tournament. However, he played against the brilliant Ivory Coast and North Korean teams and a Brazilian team who made sure they drew to win the group. Regardless, I do not feel he deserves the award. Stekelenburg alllowed 6 goals, but it was the saves he made to keep the Dutch alive, most notably against Brazil. Kaka tried bending in a shot into the top right corner but Stekelenburg dove and made an acrobatic save, keeping the score 1 - 0 and didn't let it get out of hand. The uneasy defense of the Dutch was lucky to have Stekelenburg in goal, for he kept scores within reach and not breaching football status.
Right back - My Pick: Sergio Ramos/Philip Lahm ESPN's: Philip Lahm
- This one was tough f or me. I couldn't decide. Philip Lahm was brilliant at captain, constantly providing the support in the attack, transitioning from defense to offense, and being the sturdy back needed in defense. However, Sergio Ramos did the same thing with the same quality. The only difference is that Ramos' Spain won the whole tournament and Lahm's fell short to the Champions. It is tough to pick one. If I'm manager of this dream team, I keep both on the team and just rotate them as starter and substitute and I know I'll get quality consistent starts and subs from both.
Centre Backs - My Picks: Carles Puyol and Ryan Nelsen ESPN's: Same
- After researching and seeing who I would pick, I realized how little centre backs are available in this tournament THAT PERFORMED WELL. I figured these picks would be John Terry and Lucio, but both flopped bigtime. Terry had a mental lapse against Germany and Lucio was always seen turning over the ball. Regardless, two were selected in Carles Puyol and Ryan Nelsen. Puyol has been a sign of consistency, always putting in quality performances in every match. He put in the header to send Spain into the Final and represented proudly. Ryan Nelsen is the surprise pick in this one. He was the captain of the All Whites, New Zealand's national team. He was their rock, always being the sturdy player in this team. Because of his leadership and resiliency, New Zealand didn't lose one match. Given, they didn't win any but they didn't lose and most of that was due in part to their Captain, Ryan Nelsen.
Left-Back - My Pick: Giovanni Van Brockhorst ESPN's: Carlos Salcido
- This pick was limited as well, with the prominent left-backs flopping again such as Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole. Those two flopped cause they're playing for Manchester United and Chelsea... or they just don't know what they're doing... or both. ANYWAYS... Van Brockhorst, at 35, really showed age doesn't matter and he wanted to go out with a bang. He played tough defense on a lot of the top wingers in the world, such as Andres Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez. But most notably, he BLASTED a 42 yard shot into the top left corner against Uruguay for the goal of the tournament. No doubt about it. He proved he could compete at the top level no matter the age.
Centre Mids - My Picks: Bastian Schweinsteiger and Keisuke Honda ESPN's: Xavi and Bastian Schweinsteiger
- This one was pretty competitive and extremely close. I wound up going with Bastian Schweinsteiger, the holder of the midfield for Germany, and Keisuke Honda, the Japanese offense. Bastian played extremely well, constantly placing the right passes and finding the right people to destroy the defense of the opposition. He went man to man with all the better centre mids, including Xavi, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and the list goes on. He held his position and even captained Germany to a third place win against Uruguay. The second midfielder was tough for me but I went with an underdog in Keisuke Honda. He was the most dynamic and, arguably, most needed player for his respected Nation. Honda provided 2 of Japan's 4 goals and assisted 1 of the other goals. The creativity and flair exemplified by Honda has attracted big name clubs to try and purchase him from CSKA Moscow. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has praised him, saying he was a phenomenal player. ARSENE SWEEP HIM UP. Ok there's my Arsenal moment for the blog. Regardless, Honda showed he can play with the big boys even though he really isn't a big name player.
Left Wing: My and ESPN's Pick - David Villa
- This one was a no brainer. David Villa was the most lethal goalscorer in this entire tournament. He scored sliding, on the run, dribbling defende rs, and the rest of his moves in his repertoire of finishing. He showed why Barcelona spent 34.5 Million Euros on him, which again is just scary to think about that team. He tied in the Golden boot race with 4 others, with a total of 5 goals. More impressively, that is more than half of Spain's goals in the tournament (8). Villa's performance throughout the ENTIRE WORLD CUP was just brilliant, always a threat to score no matter where he was on the pitch, on the floor or not.
Center Attacking Mid: My and ESPN's Pick - Wesley Sneijder
- Just as the next two picks along with Villa, Wesley Sneijder was a complete maestro in the midfield for the Oranje. He single-handedly took out the #2 Nation in the World (Brazil) and almost the #1 (Spain). He was in the running for the Golden Boot with 5 goals AS AN ATTACKING MID. He was known at Inter and, used to be known, with the Oranje as the creator, making something out of nothing. However, he took the scorers role and put in 5 of the 12 Netherlands goals. Sneijder dribbled defenders and pulled the strings on passes and showed why he is world-class and not just club level.
Right Wing: My and ESPN's Pick: Thomas Mueller
- This one was just unfair. Thomas Mueller, the dynamic German, showed the World just how great a payer he is. What is unfair is that he is 20. 20 YEARS YOUNG. HE IS AS OLD AS I AM. Mueller found the gaps and shot through them and was always creating problems in the defense for every team they played against. He teamed up with Mesuit Ozil, the Wizard of Oz, to combine for a threatening duo that is a combined 41 years old. WHAT IS GOING ON? Germany is going to be a strong team come 2014. Mueller won the Golden Boot, scoring 5 in the least amount of games. Not only did he lead the tournament he goals, him, Mesuit Ozil, and Bastian were tied with 3 assists, most in the tournament. MUELLER CONTRIBUTED 8 GOALS. Need I say more?
Striker: My and ESPN's Pick: Diego. Forlan.
- Notice how I wrote this man's name. Diego ::pause:: Forlan. Forlan was like a hitman. He had a mission: Win the World Cup BY MYSELF. Forlan was the orchestrator of almost all the Uruguayan goals, minus the Suarez bender. He was the only player in the World Cup to net 3 goals outside the box WITH THE JABULANI. Goalies turned the noun into a verb, saying they've been 'Jabulanied'. Forlan netted a free kick as well against Ghana, tying up the game and sending it into extra time. When Uruguay scored, everyone just wondered, "How did Forlan score this time?" He took matters into his own hands and made sure Uruguay was making it farther and farther into the tournament. Unfortunately, his team hit the Netherlands, who were the better side on that night. However, in my eyes, he gets the Golden Ball, best player in the tournament, which he did. Diego Forlan was Uruguay. He did everything and anything as Captain to make sure they were going through.
Manager: My Pick and ESPN's: Joachim Low
- Germany was the force to be reckoned with this tournament and Joachim Low was a big part of that. He played the right players in the right positions, making sure no one strayed one way or the other. He let Ozil and Mueller have their freedoms, for they have the creativity to. Low placed Schweinsteiger in a holding role because Bastian was bigger and stronger than most midfielders in the World Cup. He revived Miroslav Klose and Lucas Podolski into threats in the goal instead of flops in the Bundesliga. Low really showed, in his Stan Van Gundy sweater, that he is the one to lead Germany in the 2014 campaign for the Cup.
And there's my team. But honestly, the Golden Ball trophy should've gone to a more deserving candi-BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB