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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In this world everyone has a different opinion of everything and that’s what makes it a great place to be, if we all agreed about all issues then it would be pretty boring which brings me to today’s game, a game I really enjoyed I thought it was a great portrait of passing football from Spain, impressive defending and counter attacking from the Germans, yeah it didn’t have bags of goals, but it was proper interesting football, I totally understand if some people found it boring or dull, and that’s the right everyone has I respect that, however I would easily watch that game again.

Spain started very bright, and went about attacking the German defence, Pedro in for Torres couldn’t have asked for a better start, a great first touch, and he looked very much in the mood, Villa started in the middle and struggled to find space around the area, in the first half Pedro moved from right to left and always looked to get on the ball, the first chance came when Pedro slipped in Villa, his outstretched foot met the ball but Manuel Neuer was out fast to close them down and make the save. The only other chance to mention was from Andrea Iniesta’s cross when Puyol rose and headed the ball over the ball, a danger sign for the Germans, Podolski and Ozil nearly combined for a breakaway chance but Podolski’s pass was slightly behind Ozil, Ozil also had a penalty shout denied when Ramos collided with him on the stroke of half time, not a penalty for me as Ramos doesn’t actually tackle him, I think Ozil just fell over. An interesting 45 minutes “a chess game” if you will Germany trying to suck the Spanish in and counter, and the Spanish happy to control the tempo of the game but without getting in behind very often, frustrating at times because of the class that Spain have, but still nice to watch.

The second half saw Spain pile on the pressure again but this time they got a bit more joy and cause more problems, Villa and Ramos came close to converting low crosses to the back post, Xabi Alonso came very close with two efforts from outside the box, the Germans were pushed further and further back and found it hard to break out because they were so deep, it was getting inevitable that a Spain goal would come. And come it did, 17 minutes to go Xavi whipped in a corner and Puyol unmarked rose and powered a wonderful header passed the helpless Neuer, his 3 international goal, and I don’t think he’ll score another more important, unless it’s on Sunday.

The Germans tried their best to get back into the game, but it just wasn’t there day, Podolski and Klose never got a sniff at goal and Ozil was kept tightly marked by Busquets and Alonso, they will be back stronger in 2 years and they are my favourites to win Euro 2012.

GERMANY

0

 

SPAIN

1

      Carles PUYOL (73′)  
         
1.Manuel NEUER     1.Iker CASILLAS  
3.Arne FRIEDRICH     3.Gerard PIQUE  
6.Sami KHEDIRA OUT – 81   5.Carles PUYOL  
7.Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER     6.Andres INIESTA  
8.Mesut ÖZIL     7.David VILLA OUT – 81
10.Lucas PODOLSKI     8.XAVI  
11.Miroslav KLOSE     11.Joan CAPDEVILA  
15.Piotr TROCHOWSKI OUT – 62   14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 93
16.Philipp LAHM     15.Sergio RAMOS  
17.Per MERTESACKER     16.Sergio BUSQUETS  
20.Jerome BOATENG OUT – 52   18.PEDRO OUT – 86
         
Subs     Subs  
12.Tim WIESE     2.Raul ALBOIL  
22.Hans Jorg BUTT     4.Carlos MARCHENA IN – 93
2.Marcell JANSEN IN – 52   9.Fernando TORRES IN – 81
4.Dennis AOGO     10.Cesc FABERGAS  
5.Serdar TASCI     12.Victor VALDES  
9.Stefan KIEßLING     13.Juan MATA  
13.Thomas MULLER SUS   17.Alvaro ARBELOA  
14.Holger BADSTUBER     19.Fernando LLORENTE  
18.Toni KROOS IN – 62   20.Javi MARTINEZ  
19.CACAU     21.David SILVA IN – 86
21.Marko MARIN     22.Jesus NAVAS  
23.Mario GOMEZ IN – 81   23.Pepe REINA  

MY THOUGHTS

Pedro was the man of the match for me, always getting open, attacked the German defenders in a way Villa and Torres just don’t do getting them to turn and chase he was like a fly in the ear of the German defence, his passing was on point, had a couple of shots on goal and until the goal he looked like the only way Spain would get a goal, he should have set up a goal for Torres with the Germans pilling forward he was found wide open on the right a 2 on 1 with Torres and maybe youthful naivety got the best of him and he tried to go it alone when he should have squared it, I really hope he starts in the final, he deserves it, capping off a wonderful season for the young Spaniard.

Alonso, Xavi and Busquets were superb running out of words for these guys, Xavi hardly lost the ball all game kept the game flowing with the constant passing, Busquets also played very well closing down Ozil then not giving Schweinsteiger any time on the ball apart from the defensive side his passing was impressive too, usually underrated by most people he is an important part of the Spain side, not sure they always need Alonso and Busquets together.

A quiet night for Villa, he works so much better while operating on the left, but he sacrificed himself for the team, not sure where Del Bosque will play him in the final, he’ll need his star man to be at his best to win the biggest game of them all.

The Germans didn’t play anywhere near the way they did against England and Argentina, they missed Thomas Muller, as well as Trochowski played he just doesn’t have the power and physicality that the Bayern man brings and this slowed down the counter attacking prowess they had showed previously, Mertesacker and Friedrich played well for a duo that have been told they are not that good all tournament they didn’t show any of that and Spain found it hard to get past them.

Klose and Ozil were marked out the game, Podolski never once linked up with Klose which was disappointing. Schweinsteiger and Khedira played a good match, I really like Schweni in this central role, he needs to show a bit more of his attacking side at times however his passing and reading of the game has been second to none in this tournament.

I wanted the Germans to go all the way in this tournament as they had played the best football so far, however they got outplayed this evening by Spain, the best team went through in the end.

FINAL – NETHERLANDS v SPAIN

So we have the line-up of the final game, the “Total Football” of the Dutch and the “Tiki Taka” of the Spanish, I don’t want to jinx it, however it has the potential to be a fantastic final, both teams don’t like sitting back, they have creativity all over the pitch, it will either be end to end, or cancel each other out.

Either way after the game is done we will be looking at the 8th country to win the World Cup trophy and surely that is as special as it gets for the first African World Cup.

I am going to back Holland to win; this however could be their downfall.

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