Been so lazy since the end of the World Cup should have had this on sooner but where would a football blog be without picking my World Cup XI, nowhere, so to fall into line, and probably the umpteenth list you’ve read here’s my team, just a note I have picked this team as an actual team that I would hope has a balance that would work well together, so not England then.

FORMATION 4-2-3-1

For the English media this is been a revelation for anyone who watches football outside of the British Isles it’s a formation you will be well aware of, very successful throughout the tournament and dominating any team that tried to go 4-4-2 against it, I’m sure you’ll see more and more teams adapt to this system throughout the season.

 

“Too inexperience” “They’ll miss Ballack” “Not as good as past German teams” all these things were said about Low’s side before they had even kicked a ball, that all stopped once they played Australia, Low had picked a side with pace, athleticism, a really good team and work ethic, and on top of that he got his tactics spot on for the knockout stages until they came up against Spain, and even having the bravado to come out after the games and explain how he had beaten England and Argentina, I think this shows the confidence in the man, that’s the attitude I want in a leader of men.

Mentions: Oscar Tabarez (Uru) Bob Bradley (USA) Diego Maradona (Arg)

I found this a hard choice, quite a few keepers impressed in the Group Stage, and a few shown in the knockout stages, You have to pick someone that really turns up when it counts, Iker saved Paraguays penalty and Santa Cruz’s chance in the Quarters, then in the Final with Robben through on goal on his left foot, Casillas had the presence of mind to left his leg and provide the vital touch, keeping the game at 0-0 and of course Spain went on to win the trophy surely a pivotal moment and that’s what you want in a Goalkeeper, Stekenlenberg probably had a better final than Casillas, however when he was most needed he produced the good, Saint Iker indeed.

Mentions: Vincent Enyeama (Nig) Maarten Stekelenber (Ned) Eduardo (Por)

I will confess that Jorge is a player that wasn’t on my radar before the World Cup, with every game that I watched he just grew and grew, great performances against France and South Africa, Solid against Korea, he was unlucky to miss out against Holland in the Semi-Final and they really missed him, having to re think the whole system to nullify Robben, If Fucile had been there It would have been a different game I think, came back into the side against Germany and he didn’t miss a beat, Muller didn’t have an easy game, making him come inside more often, Fucile never looked out of position very often, the Porto full back has a good future ahead of him.

Mentions: Fabio Coentrao (Por) Gio Van Bronckhorst (Ned) Carlos Salcido (Mex)

Many sites and pundits I’ve read or listened to have mentioned Gerald Pique quite a few times, for me the rock in Spain’s defence has been Captain Fantastic himself, showing that he can play with the same passion and intensity as he can for Barcelona, he may not have the pace he once had, however his positioning and awareness is top notch, a few seasons ago questions had been asked of Puyol but under Guardiola he has blossomed again and looks like a defender on top of his game.

Mentions: Joris Mathijsen (Ned) Jonathan Mensah (Gha)

At 31 this was probably his last World Cup, with a disappointing season behind him (relegated with Hertha) he came to the tournament with question marks over his ability, I thought he answered all those critics, up against some young forwards Gyan, Defoe, Messi he never looked worried, dealt with all the youthful exuberance with a calmness and typical German efficiency, a nice way to finish his International career with his first goal for his country, and a derserved place in my team.

Mentions: Diego Godin (Uru) Antolin Alcaraz (Par)

High hopes were had for this Ajax youngster, picked him out in my 32 players to watch piece, and he didn’t let me down, look wise past his years, showing good positioning a willingness to get forward, maybe didn’t reach the byline as often as I would have likes but played well front to back, had a very solid final for such a young player, made some great challenges on Pedro and Iniesta and didn’t seem overawed by the occasion, a target now for some big teams, not surprising to be honest.

Mentions: Phillip Lahm (Ger) Sergio Ramos (Esp) Maicon (Bra)

I must confess I had not seen much of Bayern Munich this year, only the 2nd half of the later stages of the Champions League so I was unaware of how good Bastian had performed in his newly found position for his club, so seeing him play there for his country was new to me, and boy did he impress, always making sure he had time on the ball, the ability to beat a man to find more space, his passing was deliberate, some of the runs were superb exemplified by the run for Friedrich’s goal against Argentina, a joy to watch in the middle of the park, so commanding for what is still a young player.

Mentions: Mark Van Bommel (Ned) Michael Bradley (USA)

The heart of the Spanish engine room, I would call him the Leonardo Da Vinci of the Tiki-Taka masterpiece, so eloquent on the ball, made more passes than any other player in the tournament, I don’t remember a bad one, doesn’t break forward as often as he used to, he does find space better than most players in the world, just a joy to watch.

Mentions: Gilberto Silva (Bra) Raul Meireles (Por)

Big decision to make with this pick, could have easily been Wesley Sneijder but I think everyone got a little carried away with his performances, Mesut however took the World by storm, not a name everyone knew before the tournament his name is on the lips of the world now, great movement, vision, pace to beat a man, a youthful exuberance and naievity which makes him so dangerous.
Mesut has the world at his feet, I hope he can go on to delight us in future World Cups and seeing him develop more this season in the Bundesliga for Bremen (hopefully!)

Mentions: Wesley Sneijder (Hol)

This was a very hard decision, not whether Andres deserved to be in the team, but where to play him, I could have chosen him to play in Xavi’s role, Oezil’s role, which would have given space to Thomas Mueller, I think however, this decision for me brings balance to the side if it was an actual team, like he did for Spain Iniesta starts on the left but he has a license to roam into the midfield and provide support but is very active at breaking forward into the box and down the channels, lovely passer of the ball, finds space with ease, the awareness to know where and when to make runs is incredible, and compliments this with his goalscoring abilty, they say playing with great players makes the game easier, Andres must make it very easy.

Mentions: Robinho (Bra), Carlos Tevez (Arg), Jean Beausejour (Cho)

If the interest in the Spanish forward wasn’t already sky-high his move to Barcelona brought even more attention, after the first game when Spain failed to score and no one on the Spainish team impressed, it was Villa who announced the team to the tournament with his goal against Honduras, collecting the ball from the left, beat 2 men and his shot found the top corner, a quality goal that just summed up Villa’s excellence, he went on to score 5 goals in the tournament and was so important to the Spain team, without him they would not have reached the final.

Mentions: Luis Suarez (Uru), Asamoah Gyan (Gha), Luis Fabiano (Bra)

Voted player of the whole tournament and a very worthy winner, not only an excellent footballer but comes across as a really nice guy also, dangerous on both feet so I have no trouble playing him on the right, has the ability to come in off either flank, find space and if you give him space outside the box he will score goals, specialist from Free Kicks as he showed, the one person in the tournament that tamed the Jabulani ball, Captain and Cheerleader for his Country, a tremendous players, finally getting the Worldwide recognition for all his hard work, 2 Golden boots for his goals in La Liga and now a Golden Ball for his performances in South Africa.

Mentions: Thomas Mueller (Ger) - was so hard to leave him out, Arjen Robben (Ned), Lionel Messi (Arg)

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Two of football’s heavyweights met in the Quarter Finals yesterday, 2 team playing great football, a shame they both couldn’t go through. In the other match it was underdogs vs favourites, Paraguay trying to shock the world by eliminating the Spanish.

ARGENTINA

0

 

GERMANY

4

      Thomas MULLER (3′)  
      Miroslav KLOSE (67′, 89′)  
      Arne FRIEDRICH (74′)  
         
         
22.Sergio ROMERO     1.Manuel NEUER  
2.Martin DEMICHELIS     3.Arne FRIEDRICH  
4.Nicolas BURDISSO     6.Sami KHEDIRA OUT – 77
6.Gabriel HEINZE     7.Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER  
7.Angel DI MARIA OUT – 75   8.Mesut ÖZIL  
9.Gonzalo HIGUAIN     10.Lucas PODOLSKI  
10.Lionel MESSI     11.Miroslav KLOSE  
11.Carlos TEVEZ     13.Thomas MULLER – Y OUT – 84
14.Javier MASCHERANO – C – Y     16.Philipp LAHM  
15.Nicolas OTAMENDI – Y OUT – 70   17.Per MERTESACKER  
20.Maxi RODRIGUEZ     20.Jerome BOATENG OUT – 72
         
Subs     Subs  
16.Sergio AGUERO IN – 75   2.Marcell JANSEN IN – 72
23.Javier PASTORE IN – 70   15.Piotr TROCHOWSKI IN – 84
      18.Toni KROOS IN – 77

MY THOUGHTS

From start to finish the Germans dominated the match, a great start to the match Thomas Muller flicking in Schweinsteiger’s free kick, the German machine just rolled on, Argentina never looked like causing any problems, 1-0 at half time the germans looked comfortable, and extended the lead in the second half when Podolski got three on the left and he found Klose alone in the box and he wasn’t gonna miss from there.

Arne Friedrich added his first ever goal after Schweinsteiger’s fabulous solo run, and Ozil played a lovely pass over the top of the Argentine’s and found Klose and he levelled Gerd Muller’s 14 World Cup goals, and capped off a wonderful day for Germany. Argentina just weren’t at the races today, Messi and Tevez couldn’t find the space to create anything, and this is were Maradona lacks the tactical knowledge to change the system or adapt to what’s happening and in the end this cost his country a chance at World Cup glory.

Schweinsteiger and Khedira were superb for the whole game, The Bayern man never looked in any trouble on the ball, always finding a pass or when in trouble he has the ability to beat a man to create more space, and Khedira compliments his game so much, knows when to stay knows when to attack, and I’m sticking by my thought that Ballack would just have slowed this team down, Podolski and Muller then back up Klose, with Ozil combining the great play for midfield and attack, Ozil had a slighly quieter game but this gave more space to Schweinsteiger and Podolski and they played a great game.

I thought Jerome Boateng did well, supposidly the weakest link in the german team, however he did well against the threat of Messi and Di Maria, I don’t remember the ball getting inbehind the German defence many times, Mertesacker didn’t get turned like everyone thought they would they managed to keep the Argies in front of them and this condensed the space Messi & Co. had to work with.

Di Maria had has most involved game seeing lots of the ball, he needs to work on his final ball if he is to become a great player, he didn’t get much help from Higuian who’s movement was sparce at best, Otamendi at right back had an awful game, booked very early on he never recovered and if you look at all Germany’s goals they all came from the left side, where Nicolas was meant to be defending, the right back spot a real problem are for Maradona’s men, what difference would someone of Javier Zanetti class have made.

Lionel Messi will leave the tournament without scoring a goal, but at times he showed his World Class and could easily have had 3 or 4, Tevez played well overall, Higuain left a lot to be desired, yeah he got a hat-trick against Korea but never showed the real strengths of his game.

It looks like Diego will retire as Argentina’s coach and maybe it’s a good thing, he is a good cheerleader and gives the team passion and pride, but when i comes to knowing the game he lacks the same skill he had as a player, Argentina need a coach that can get the best of out Messi but also find a way to play the others, it’s not a bad bunch of players to be in charge of.

PARAGUAY

0

 

SPAIN

1

      David VILLA (83′)  
         
         
1.Justo VILLAR     1.Iker CASILLAS  
2.Dario VERON     3.Gerard PIQUE – Y  
3.Claudio MOREL – Y     5.Carles PUYOL OUT – 84
7.Oscar CARDOZO     6.Andres INIESTA  
8.Edgar BARRETO OUT – 64   7.David VILLA  
11.Jonathan SANTANA – Y     8.XAVI  
14.Paulo DA SILVA     9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 56
15.Victor CACERES – Y OUT – 84   11.Joan CAPDEVILA  
16.Cristian RIVEROS     14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 75
18.Nelson VALDEZ OUT – 72   15.Sergio RAMOS  
21.Antolin ALCARAZ – Y     16.Sergio BUSQUETS – Y  
         
Subs     Subs  
19.Lucas BARRIOS IN – 84   4.Carlos MARCHENA IN – 84
13.Enrique VERA IN – 64   10.Cesc FABERGAS IN – 56
9.Roque SANTA CRUZ IN – 72   18.PEDRO IN – 75

MY THOUGHTS

For 45 minutes this match had nothing to write about, Spain’s passing was awful they couldn’t get their “tiki-taka” going, it was Paraguay that played the nicer football some lovely flowing moves, but just couldn’t find a way past the Spanish defence, it looked like their chances would come mostly from set-pieces.

The second half was so much better and there was a 10 minute period of complete drama, Paraguay had a corner and when the ball was swung in, Gerard Pique was blatantly pulling Cardozo’s arm, the referee spotted it and blew his whitle, Penalty to Paraguay, a chance to go ahead against the European Champions, Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo stepped up to take it, but it was a poor penalty and Iker Casillas made a comfortable save, the temperature rose again when Spain went on the attack and Villa was bundles off the ball by Alcaraz and again the referee had no choice to point to the spot, Xabi Alonso picked up the ball, placed it, took his penalty and put it into the top corner, the referee had spotted some encroachment and ordered the retake, always hard for the player to then either go the same way or do you change your mind, Alonso changed his mind, Villar read it though and got his hand to the ball, it looked like he fouled Fabergas on the rebound, and then Ramos fired the rebound towards goal and it was cleared off the line.

Spain pilled on the pressure and with 7 minutes to go it paid off, Iniesta made a great run towards the box, he slipped in Pedro, his shot came off the post and fell to David Villa and Spain’s top scorer had a chance, his shot came off the same post as Pedro’s went back across the goal and hit the opposite post but this time it bounced into the net and Spain had the lead, and except Santa Cruz’s chance in injury time Spain played out the last minutes knowing they had won.

For the first time in this tournament Pique looked nervous, the tug on Cardozo’s arm was unlike the big man, usually so calm under pressure, Paraguay played well as a team but struggled up front, Cardozo and Valdez no goals between them, Valdez worked very very hard chasing down lost causes and caused problems with his movement but they lacked that cutting edge in the final third, new Premier League boys Alcaraz and Riveros played pretty well and have impressed throughout the tournament looking forward to seeing more of them this season.

Torres again had a poor game, not sure how long Del Bosque can continue to pick the Liverpool man, Llorente did so well when he came on against Portugal he is knocking at the door for a starting spot, other options would be  Cesc Fabergas or Jesus Navas and play Villa down the middle, I would try Llorente as Villa has been findng more space from the left and it seems teams are struggling to pick him up from deeper, however it seems Del Bosque will be sticking with Torres hoping that every game makes him sharper, could be a big decision.

 

SEMI FINAL – GERMANY v SPAIN

Germany will be without striker Thomas Muller who is suspended, looks like Trochowski will replace him, I think there is the option of usin Cacau, Marin and Toni Kross instead that would give more attacking impetus, however Trochowski has been more often or not the first sub, so no surprise if he’s picked, apart from that both teams will have minumum changes.

Some really good matchups Lahm will be wary of Villa from the left wing position, probably the best defender Villa has come up against so far, Busquets will be given the job to mark Ozil, it will be interesting how Sergio Ramos defends against Podolski, Poldi’s presence could pin Ramos back, if he ventures forward there will be space to expolit, also a great test for Schweinsteiger and Khedira against the greatest midfield duo in football Xavi and Iniesta the winner of this battle could determin the team that gets to the final.

Spain will have to play a lot better if they are to beat the Germans, I’m sure Jogi Low will have a game plan to test Spain, really looking forward to this one, if I had to pick a winner, i would have to say Germany by a goal.

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