2010 World Cup - Team of the Tournament
Iker Casillas (ESP) - Goalkeeper: The Spain captain's tournament got off to an awful start when his error allowed Switzerland to score the only goal of the game in Spain's shock opening defeat. 'Saint Iker' went on to rediscover his best form though, and his two crucial saves from Arjen Robben in the final proved that he remains the world's best shot-stopper.
Sergio Ramos (ESP) - Right-back: Casillas' Real Madrid teammate may have defensive flaws, but he is a formidable competitor and a willing attacker and his flying assaults down the right flank were a key feature of both the semifinal defeat of Germany and the victory against the Dutch in the final.
Arne Friedrich (GER) - Center-back: Having suffered relegation with Hertha Berlin last season, 31-year-old Friedrich came into the tournament on something of a low but produced a series of excellent performances, characterized by impeccably timed tackles. The highlight was the 4-0 quarterfinal thrashing of Argentina, in which he scored for the first time in Germany's colors.
Carles Puyol (ESP) - Center-back: Everyone brags about the passing prowess of Xavi, Iniesta and Villa, but Spain center-back Puyol was at his combative best in South Africa and sent his side into the final with a bullet header in the 73rd minute of the semifinal win over Germany. He was put to the test in the final by Robben, but it was his only moment of real trouble the entire tournament.
Fabio Coentrao (POR) - Left-back: Portugal may have bowed out in the Round of 16, but Coentrao's relentless raids up and down the left wing made him one of the stars of the group stage. His best performance came in the 7-0 thrashing of North Korea, but the converted winger proved his defensive qualities as well in the draws with Ivory Coast and Brazil.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (GER) - Central midfield: The effortless way in which Schweinsteiger assumed command of the German midfield meant that Michael Ballack's absence was barely noticed. He and Sami Khedira dominated the center of the pitch with authority, and the Bayern Munich star was Germany's creator-in-chief in the famous victories against England and Argentina.
Xavi (ESP) - Central midfield: There is no finer passer in the modern game than Xavi, and the Barcelona man's wit and vision refused to be dimmed as Spain ground their way past Portugal, Paraguay, Germany and then the Netherlands to claim their first World Cup in history.
Thomas Mueller (GER) - Right wing: Barely a year ago, Mueller was considered a reserve player at Bayern Munich, but the 20-year-old became the leader of Germany's exciting young generation with his high-octane performances and cool-headed finishing. Scored five goals, including a brace against England, to win the Golden Boot; was also named Young Player of the Tournament.
Wesley Sneijder (NED) - Attacking midfielder: Failed to stamp his authority on the final, but Sneijder was instrumental in the Netherlands' progress, scoring the winning goal in the 2-1 quarterfinal defeat of Brazil (with a rare header) and also netting in the 3-2 semifinal win over Uruguay.
Andres Iniesta (ESP) - Left wing: His level-headed winning goal in the final summed up his value to Spain, and demonstrated why he is widely regarded as the foremost attacking midfielder in the game. Blessed with skillful feet and an eye for a match-changing pass, he also showed his personal class by revealing a T-shirt in tribute to late Espanyol captain Daniel Jarque after scoring against the Dutch.
Diego Forlan (URU) – Center-forward: The symbol of Uruguay's unexpected run to the last four, Forlan embodied the fighting spirit and quality that took Oscar Tabarez's men to the semis. Left South Africa with five goals, four of which were superb strikes from distance, including a cracking volley in the third-place play-off against Germany. Was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.
Honorable Mention: David Villa (ESP) - Barca’s new signing carried the less than prolific Spanish offense throughout the tournament, especially after the ineffectiveness of ‘El Nino’ Torres.
Honorable Mention: Maicon (BRA) - Rumored to be in talks with Real Madrid, he is still one of the best fullbacks in the game, despite Brazil’s unexpected early exit from the 2010 World Cup.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Salcido (MEX) – Rumored to be retiring soon, Salcido was the Mexican player that best balanced offense and defense. He had the highest number of shots on goal for Mexico, the most clearances, and the third highest number of passes, showing his overall quality.
Honorable Mention: Diego Lugano (URU) - The Uruguayan captain was a forced to be reckoned with on defense, playing six matches and only garnering one yellow card.
Honda was Japan's hero in South Africa, scoring two goals and setting up another in leading the Blue Samurai to their first World Cup second-round on foreign soil; media reports link him with a move to AC Milan from CSKA Moscow.
Honorable Mention: Asamoah Gyan (GHA) - The talented striker carried the Black Stars on their amazing journey into the quarterfinals, but he missed the last touch that would have earned the only surviving African team an unprecedented entry into the semifinals.
Honorable Mention: Gonzalo Higuain (ARG) - We would like to recognize the 22-year-old Real Madrid striker for becoming the third Argentinean to score a hat-trick in a World Cup (Guillermo Stábile 1930; Gabriel Batistuta 1994 & 1998); it was the only hat-trick scored in South Africa and first one since 2002.
Honorable Mention: Landon Donovan (USA) - Much was expected of the Americans this World Cup, and their campaign would not have been successful if it has not been for their hard-working, all-heart #10 - Landon Donovan, who provided us with one of the most exciting moments of the tournament.
Final Honorable Mention: Miroslav Klose (GER) - Albeit not finishing the tournament on a high-note, having to ride the bench with an injury being one goal away from tying all-time top scorer Ronaldo, Klose’s 14 World Cup goals certainly deserve recognition; he likely played in his last major international tournament.