July 12, 2010

World Cup 2010 hardware

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

The glorious, golden World Cup trophy wasn’t the only hardware handed out on Sunday in Johannesburg. The individual player awards were also handed out and FIFA did a great job with their selections.

Golden Ball – If David Villa, Wesley Sneijder or even Xavi or Arjen Robben had put on a better showing in the final, they could’ve earned this prestigious honour, but really, Diego Forlan truly deserved it. He was marvelous in leading an underdog Uruguay team all the way to the semifinals. His five goals also tied him atop the leaders as well. He proved that his success in Europa League with Athletico Madrid was no fluke and could’ve earned himself a lot of money on the transfer market if he decides to move on.

Golden Boot – While I don’t agree with using assists as the tiebreaker for the Golden Boot, I can see how FIFA might not want a tie for the award. Thomas Mueller’s three assists to go with his five scores earned him the award and puts him among the world’s goal-scoring elite. He should be a key component for Germany and Bayern Munich for a long time. In fact, he could easily step in to start for the club at right wing if they decide to sell the overrated – in this tournament at least – Franck Ribery.

Golden Gloves – Iker Casillas kind of won this one by default. Nobody really stood out between the pipes and Casillas strung together a nice run of clean sheets after Spain’s opening loss. I’d credit his defensive line a bit more than him though; he was nothing special, but still probably the tourney’s best. Germany’s Manuel Neuer played almost as well and certainly could have taken this if he played the third-place game.

Young Player – When you win the Golden Boot and are only 20-years-old, you’re a lock to be the young player of the tournament. Thomas Mueller played incredibly, well beyond his years, and was a true leader for the Germans.

RTP’s World Cup XI, plus some subs.
GK: Manuel Neuer,  Germany — Distributed the ball like no other and was generally great in net. Had to deal with more than Casillas.
D: Philipp Lahm, Germany — Great moving forward down the right side while providing much needed leadership on a young team.
D: Carles Puyol, Spain — Despite looking shaky during the final, had an outstanding tournament and scored the winner over Germany.
D: Diego Lugano, Uruguay — Helped hold the line and made Fernando Muslera look good for the entire Group Stage.
D: Fabio Cointreau, Portugal — As much as I hate the Portuguese, they only allowed one goal in the tourney and Cointreau was a revelation going down the left side.
M: Thomas Mueller, Germany —
M: Xavi, Spain — When you break the record for most passes in a World Cup, quite handily too, you deserve a XI nod. The true man behind Spain’s precision passing game.
M: Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands — Carried the load while Robben was out and tied for the Cup lead in scoring.
M: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany — It was great to see him wear the captain’s armband in the third-place game. If not for Lahm and Michael Ballack, he would be a shoo in to continue to lead his country. He had a great Cup playing a terrific holding role and a true leader on the field.
F: Diego Forlan, Uruguay — He was the tournament’s best player. Outstanding in close or from distance, with his right foot or left. An absolute revelation.
F: David Villa, Spain — Quite simply one of the best scorers there was. Carried Spain up front while Fernando Torres bombed.

Richard Kingson, Ghaha – One of the main reasons for Black Stars run. Definitely will find a club this fall.
Landon Donovan, United States – The American hero was great in his role on the wing.
Asamoah Gyan, Ghana — Despite the missed penalties, had an outstanding tourney for underdog Africans.
Maicon, Brazil – Scored one of the goals of the tournament against North Korea and was solid on the back line too.
Per Mertesacker, Germany — One of the cleanest defenders you’ll ever see. Never caught out of position.
Arjen Robben, Netherlands — Despite missing two games, he was still a Golden Ball candidate. That says something about how vital he was to the Dutch.
Ryan Nelson, New Zealand — Who would have figured that in the end, New Zealand would be the lone undefeated team? Their captain was an impressive leader.

And check back later for the biggest disappoints of the tournament. That’s right, the World Cup may be over, but we’re not done yet.

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