I know what you’re thinking, but no, no we won’t leave the World Cup alone. Not just yet anyway. We’ve each taken a look back into our own lives since Sunday and decided to hang on to Twinty Tin to the bitter end, because we’ve each come to love the World Cup more than Fernando Muslera loves the Soccer City crossbar. So, following on from our token Awards-Based Review piece yesterday comes a token Team of the World Cup piece. In the past couple of days every media outlet worth their salt, and ITV, have been eliciting past World Cup stars and well-informed football writers to selecting their choice tournament XIs. But what do they know? They’ll probably have based the selections on things like ‘reason’ and ‘merit’. The crazy bastards. Don’t worry, you’ll get no such thing from us here at Twinty Tin as our four key contributors each selected their own Team of the World Cup.
Team of the World Cup #1 – Dan’s Selection
Unlike England, I won’t ignore the tides of tactical change so my Vuvuzela tribute band will line up in the tournament favourite, 4-2-3-1
Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer (Germany)
I’ve gone for Germany’s number one between the sticks – not because I think he’s a good ‘keeper, but because he’s the only whose blunders haven’t led directly to a goal from my recollection. In other words, he’s been the luckiest.
Right-Back: Phillip Lahm (Germany)
Centre-Back: Lucio (Brazil)
Despite Brazil’s self-destruction and his desperately annoying antics, looked largely unbeatable throughout the competition.
Centre-Back: Carles Puyol (Spain)
Left-Back: Fabio Coentrao (Portugal)
The young Portuguese full-back is one of the summer’s emerging stars.
Holding Midfield: Mark van Bommel (Netherlands)
The unbookable referee whisperer adds bite to the midfield
Holding Midfield: Xabi Alonso (Spain)
Of the two protectors Alonso provides the technique.
Right Attacking Midfield: Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
Trequartista: Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)
The team’s playmaker, Sneijder gets the nod just ahead of the sublime Mesut Ozil.
Left Attacking Midfield: Thomas Müller (Germany)
The hard-working Müller has been shifted to his unfavoured side on the left of my line-up, but I feel he can cope, as much of his good work in South Africa has been done off the ball.
Striker: David Villa (Spain)
The main source of goals up front.
Manager: Joachim Löw (Germany)
Marcelo Bielsa was by far the most tactically interesting manager at these finals, but my team will be built for victory, as opposed to last sixteen capitulation, so I’ve plumped for Next catalogue model, Joachim Löw, as the man at the helm.
Team of the World Cup #2 – Steve’s Selection
In an attempt to come up with a different team of the tournament from anyone else my line-up consists only of players that weren’t included in the World Cup 2010 sticker album. Compiling one of these albums three months before the tournament begins must be a thankless task and mistakes are almost unavoidable, this World Cup’s album is no different.
1. Manuel Neuer (Germany)
Panini made a real howler on the German pages by including two goalkeeper stickers; René Adler and Tim Wiese. Ultimately Manuel Neuer was handed the number one shirt for the group and knockout stages and did very well indeed. Germany even cocked another snook at Panini in the third place play-off match against Uruguay by handing Hans-Jörg Butt a start, another man not afforded the glory of a place in the sticker album.
2. Antolin Alcaraz (Paraguay)
Goalscorer against Italy in Paraguay’s first game of the World Cup, Alcaraz was a mainstay of the defence that reached the last eight before falling to Spain.
3. Jérôme Boateng (Germany)
Though normally deployed at centre-half for his club, Boateng was a regular fixture at left-back for Germany at this World Cup.
4. Nicolás Burdisso (Argentina)
A regular in bat-shit crazy Diego Maradona’s defence during the World Cup.
5. Winston Reid (New Zealand)
Reid scored a dramatic late equaliser against Slovakia to earn New Zealand their first ever World Cup point. However Reid will have to look somewhere else to find a momento of this tournament as he was not included on the New Zealand pages.
6. Fábio Coentrão (Portugal)
Regarded by many as one of the finds of the tournament, a winger by trade yet Coentrão played all four games for Portugal at left-back.
7. Sami Khedira (Germany)
Defensive midfielder alongside Bastian Schweinstieger in the Germany midfield, scored a winning header against Uruguay in the third place playoff.
8. Michel Bastos (Brazil)
Brazil’s regular full-back for this tournament, showed invention and a willingness to get forward without ever replicating the effectiveness of the legendary Roberto Carlos.
9. Thomas Müller (Germany)
World Cup 2010 is likely to be remembered for the stirling performances of Bayern forward Thomas Müller. Numerous assists and five goals fired Germany into the final stages. The fact he was not included in the Panini sticker album shows exactly how far Müller has come in a few short weeks. There’s something magical about a Muller wearing 13 at the World Cup isn’t there?
10. Fabio Quagliarella (Italy)
Probably the only Italian to leave the World Cup with any credit, Quagliarella scored in Italy’s 3-2 defeat to Slovakia.
11. Kevin-Prince Boateng (Ghana)
Kevin-Prince joins his brother Jerome in my team, he scored the opening goal for Ghana against United States in their second round game and was one of their better players in Ghana’s run to the quarter finals.
Team of the World Cup #3 – Matt’s Selection
Goalkeeper: Fernando Muslera (Uruguay)
Conceded no goals in the group stage, and made two vital saves in the quarter-final penalty shootout with Ghana. Admittedly made a couple of errors in the 3rd place play-off, but nobody was watching.
Right-Back: Philipp Lahm (Germany)
Stepped into Michael Ballack’s shoes admirably to captain his country, and has been quoted as saying he doesn’t want to return the armband to Ballack after the World Cup. I’m hoping to see Ballack repeat his classic Champions’ League semi-final Benny Hill style chase on the German training ground to try to wrestle it back.
Centre-Back: Carles Puyol (Spain)
Solid at the heart of the Spanish defence, and steamrolled everyone, including one of his own team-mates, out of the way to power in an unstoppable header against Germany in the semi-final. Could also pass for notorious dope baron Howard Marks, which is clearly why the Dutch gave him so much respect in the final.
Centre-Back: Gerard Pique (Spain)
Made a formidable central defence partnership with Puyol, so is the natural choice here. His name is also an anagram of Quarried Peg, which sums him up far more eloquently than I ever could.
Left-Back: Ashley Cole (England)
One of the few England players to put in a decent World Cup performance and consequently shone like a diamond in a turd.
Centre-Midfield: Andres Iniesta (Spain)
Scored the winning goal in the final, and was subsequently booked for his celebration of removing his shirt to display a message paying tribute to a friend who died of a heart-attack. I’m sure his inclusion in my top XI list will go some way to alleviating that disappointment (of the booking, not the friend dying).
Centre-Midfield: Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)
Five goals and numerous assists for his Dutch team-mates make Sneijder an obvious inclusion. Plus his name sounds particularly pleasing to the ear when pronounced in a comedy Dutch accent.
Centre-Midfield: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)
Dominated the midfield against Argentina and England, and was instrumental for Germany in both trouncings. Schweinsteiger also means ‘pig riser’ in English, so that has to count for something too… if I find out what, I’ll let you know.
Right-Forward: Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
Officially the World Cup’s best player and winner of the Golden Ball award, so who am I to argue? Looks like the result of a mad scientist’s attempt to create a hybrid of Noel Fielding and Dog The Bounty Hunter.
Striker: David Villa (Spain)
A prolific goalscorer, even when playing to the left of Spain’s attack. Also features in the Guinness Book of Records for being the proud owner of the world’s smallest beard.
Left-Forward: Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
Unfortunately blotted his copybook with a couple of misses in the final, but prior to that had been a constant threat to opposing teams with his pace and finishing. Who knows what sort of a player he could have been had he not been cursed with an abnormally low pain threshold and brittle bones that cause him to crumple to the ground and yelp like a scalded puppy every time he makes contact with an opposition defender.
Manager: Joachim Löw (Germany)
Writing off the Germans before the tournament is rapidly becoming another World Cup cliché, but Löw took an unfancied young team and turned them into an impressive attacking force who ultimately finished third. Nobody’s perfect though, and his success in international management need to be balanced with the fact that he presumably thought £250 was good value for a jumper.
Team of the World Cup #4 – Glen’s Selection
Goalkeeper: Maarten Stekelenburg (Netherlands)
The Dutch ‘keeper had an impressive tournament, making telling saves in the quarter-final against Brazil and the final against Spain, and perhaps harshly criticised for Diego Forlan’s goal in the semi-final. He is also the most uninteresting man ever to play in a World Cup final. Seriously he is. Google him. You’ll find nothing of any note. He is a walking, diving beige.
Right-Back: Cha Jong-Hyok (North Korea)
North Korea stunned Clive Tyldsley in their opening game by being able to play football. They were kicking it and passing it and tackling people and everything. Who’d have thought it? Though the tearful Jong Tae-Se took all the headlines the right-back Cha Jong-Hyok was just as impressive standing up to the challenge of Robinho and Kaka. A clever player he also had the sense to get himself substituted before the scoreline got silly in their next match against Portugal.
Centre-Back: Ryan Nelsen (New Zealand)
The defence should really include someone from the only unbeaten team at this year’s World Cup, so step forward Ryan Nelsen of New Zealand. The rockiest of defensive rocks, the All Whites’ captain led by example, covering more ground than a giant marquee, whilst his head seemed to be exerting its own gravitational pull as everything that travelled into the New Zealand penalty area came back out again via Nelsen’s bonce.
Centre-Back: Jorge Fucile (Uruguay)
Uruguayan captain Diego Lugano received a lot of plaudits in their back-line, but Fucile was just as solid, making numerous perfectly executed last-ditch challenges throughout the tournament. One of the few players at the tournament to match up to David Villa, not on the pitch, but in the battle for the World’s smallest beard.
Left-Back: Kalu Uche (Nigeria)
Lesson here folks, trust your instincts. I knew I had watched Uche play at left back in this tournament, but a quick check only brought up references to him as a forward or an attacker. It took me a good forty-five minutes online rummaging to prove my initial thought, that Lars Lagerback had played the impressively attack minded player at full-back. Uche scored twice for Nigeria, with his dead-ball delivery a particular threat. He doesn’t like being a left-back either apparently, but then who does?
Defensive-Midfield: Diego Perez (Uruguay)
The shaven headed Perez formed an impressive holding midfield pairing with the shorter, similarly hair-free Arevalo Rios. Together they looked like a set of novelty salt and pepper pots. Perez can play a bit, but is also simply the scariest man to have been involved in this tournament. His iron legs managed to survive Dennis Aogo’s horrific challenge in the 3rd place play-off, and when he suffered a terrible gash to the head against Mexico which left him looking like a horror film extra, it took four men to treat him. Two to dress the wound and two to hold him back as he tried desperately to get back on the field.
Right-Midfield: Thomas Müller (Germany)
He only had two caps before the World Cup, and now he has returned to Germany with the Golden Boot. A very impressive and enjoyable footballer to watch, he celebrates goals with the sort of genuine joy and amazement not seen since the 1980s, or since you last told a four-year old they could have an ice-cream.
Centre-Midfield: Daisuke Matsui (Japan)
A touch of the pleasure-pain theory for Daisuke Matsui who was excellent in the Japanese midfield where he pulled more strings than Gerry Anderson and was the width of the bar away from scoring one of the goals of the tournament against Paraguay. The pain element was the news that Harry Redknapp was present for that second round match; “Yeah I like the look of him, where’s he play? Geneva, nice trip that”. Run Daisuke… run for the Alps.
Left-Midfield: Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon)
Though only afforded a few cameos from the bench, and indeed only a professional footballer for a year, eighteen year-old Aboubakar looked incredibly impressive for Cameroon and his pace and neat footwork proved a genuine threat to opposition teams. He was also the only Cameroon based player in their squad, playing for Coton Sport FC last season though he has since moved to Valenciennes in France. I predict big things for him, and so if you ever hear his name again I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Supporting-Striker: Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
God bless Diego Forlan, officially the tournament’s best player and who’s going to argue with FIFA? Not me, I like my knee-caps. He’s managed to lead a team all the way to the semi-final whilst looking like he’s stepped straight off the cover of a Mills and Boon novel. A truly Herculean effort.
Striker: David Villa (Spain)
He’s a bit good at this football malarkey this lad. Villa was superb throughout the tournament with his goal against Honduras probably the best solo strike of the tournament as he treated the right side of the Honduran line-up like a set of slalom poles. In the quarter-finals Villa reduced Mark Bright to sounding like a teenage girl queueing to watch a Twilight film as he gushed “So exciting. He’s so exciting” .
Manager: Diego Maradona (Argentina)
I cannot believe that my fellow Twinty Tin contributors have gone for Germany’s premier Bryan Ferry tribute-act over the perennially bat-shit crazy Diego Maradona. I spend my seasons watching Doncaster Rovers where the manager is the quiet, reserved, astute, tea-drinking Sean O’Driscoll, the World Cup offers my chance to rebel, so I’ve gone for the complete opposite end of the spectrum, for pure entertainment value, the manager of my team can only be Diego Maradona. He played a striker at full-back throughout the group stages, he included Ariel Garce in the squad only because he had a dream in which he saw the player lifting the World Cup. Four years ago he was up in the stands jumping around, waving his shirt above his head when his nation scored, this year he was pretty much exactly the same, just in a suit, in the technical area. With this in mind Pavlos Joseph, the fan who found his way into the England dressing room, would probably have been advised to have dropped his CV on the table before security escorted him out.