Another “Best So Far” XI

Posted: July 5, 2010 in World Cup
Tags: , , , , , ,

Given that I haven’t done one of these since the first round of matches, it’s somewhat different to the Kneejerk XI – more famous names, less Tshabalala. Good lord but that man’s goal against Mexico feels a long time ago. A whole summer ago.

Starting from the keeper, as all good teams should do. Portugal’s Eduardo was impressive, and he has a ridiculous amount of clean sheets in his admittedly-burgeoning international career. Stojkovic of Serbia looked good but is no longer with us. Frankly I loved watching the South African keeper, Itemeleng Khune, just for the ridiculous accuracy with which he bunted the ball downfield. There’s been lots of harping about Germany’s (Para) Neuer but I can’t think of him particularly excelling himself, and I thought Paraguay’ s Villar was good but then he dropped a clanger against Italy, so I’ll go with Eduardo for now.

Full-backs. Right back is an obvious choice for me: Philipp Lahm, possibly the best full-back in the entire world, and playing like it too. Maicon impressed, Sergio Ramos continues to do likewise despite looking like a donkey (not in the usual footballing “donkey” sense, I mean that the man literally looks like a donkey). Left-back is a little trickier. Ashley Cole genuinely played well but was under-used and eventually over-exposed by ze Germans. Calcido of Mexico caught the eye in the group stages. But I would go with Portugal’s Fabio Coentrao who bombed forward to great effect and was maybe a tad unlucky to be on the losing side against Spain.

Central defence. Well even though he’s out, Lucio is my man. The man was a colossus, which makes it all the more baffling that Brazil are goners. Not really sure on the rest; no-one has really stood out in the same class. Pique and Puyol, the two Spanish guys, have looked shakey. It’s a little bit “only know him cos he scored” but Alcaraz, of Paraguay, was tremendous against Spain and got a goal vs Italy. He should have been sent off in the Spanish game though. Sod it, Alcaraz it is.

Attackers are far more memorable, so I’m going to attempt to crowbar as many into this team as possible. So much so that I’m now rewriting this article after picking 12 frigging players. But for starters, a deep-lying midfielder has to be Bastian Schweinsteiger, with Javier Mascherano missing out on account of not having the attacking abilities that Schweinsteiger possesses. Alongside him I’ll sit the ever-excellent Xavi, which should give plenty of scope for roaming attackers.

Namely: Mesut Ozil (or Oezil; he seems to have required an extra E after a few games) in the centre. I originally had Messi here as my Twelfth Man. Messi has had a good tournament despite what many people claim. But Ozil has provoked a bit of a circle-jerk, with some justification. I say “in the centre” but really he can play wherever the hell he wants for all I care.

That would leave three remaining spaces for forwards. Smack in the centre sits Miroslav Klose, poacher extraordinaire, the man who mocks the English inability to perform on the big stage by neglecting to perform on the small stage but winning Oscars in the blockbuster occasions (or something). Off him is David Villa, who, if these finals are anything to go by, is the best player in the world right now. Asamoah Gyan as first-reserve.

On the right of this trio I’d like to find a place for Thomas Muller (Mueller). I really like the simple nature of his game – condescension not intended. He doesn’t seem to have any real strength, or skill, or pace – but he is always finding a gap and has hit four crucial goals so far. He’ll miss the semi-final against Spain after a ridiculously harsh booking for handball, which is a shame. He’ll be far more disappointed to learn that I’m leaving him out of this team though, in favour of Diego “All Man” Forlan, who has only hit the net 3 times (less than Suarez) but gave the best individual performance of the tournament against (mighty) South Africa in the group stages. Plus I like the way he takes all the freekicks, wanging them goalwards regardless of distance and always fizzing them into a dangerous area.

There we go then. A fairly balanced, attack-minded team that would shit on any team in world football. Especially England.

Eduardo (Portugal)

Lahm (Germany) Alcaraz (Paraguay) Lucio (Brazil) Coentrao (Portugal)

Schweinsteiger (Germany) Xavi (Spain)

Ozil (Germany)

Forlan (Uruguay) Klose (Germany) Villa (Spain)

You will notice a distinct lack of Dutch. That’s because I still haven’t seen the bastards play. Tomorrow is the night… although I imagine I’ll be rooting for Uruguay. Sorry Ghana. Suarez is suspended so it’s morally acceptable.

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