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June 19, 2010 at 4:42 PM

My FIFA World Cup Best XI so far


I’ve watched just about every group-stage game in the World Cup so far. Here are my picks for the best players I’ve seen based on their on-field performances. Not an easy task to be sure.

Be sure to offer your teams in the comments section:

* * *

GK Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria — Has a tournament-best 15 saves so far. His team would’ve been blown out by Argentina in the opener if not for his performance. The result? A goal differential that has the Super Eagles still alive to advance despite an 0-2 start. So yes, I’m forgiving the error he had against Greece that allowed a goal. (Backup: Tim Howard, USA, who was phenomenal against England)

RD Maicon, Brazil — Has always been a threat for his teams on the right side and against North Korea it was no different. Had one of the more unlikely goals you’ll ever see in the opener with a bending strike with the outside of the right foot despite being one yard off the goal line. (Backup: Winston Reid, New Zealand, who might’ve scored the biggest goal in the team’s history)

CD Stephan Lichtsteiner, Switzerland — Faced a tough task in the opener against Spain. It got worse when ex-Arsenal star Philippe Senderos, his mate in the back, was injured. Was sterling in keeping the tournament favorite off the scoresheet and rightly provides a Swiss presence on this team after the biggest upset so far. (Nemanja Vidic, Serbia, who allowed a PK, but was ever strong against Germany)

LD Patrice Evra, France — What? A Frenchman? Yes Les Bleus have been the embarrassment of the tournament, but the captain, I feel, is strong. A very capable defender and perhaps the team’s biggest threat in its two games in making runs down the left side. Unfortunately he can’t overcome the rest of the team’s failings. (Backup: Carlos Salcido, Mexico, who is also very dangerous in supporting the attack, miss the mohawk though…)

LM Andres Iniesta, Spain — With Fernando Torres benched and Xavi struggling, most of La Furia Roja’s dangerous moments came through him. Everyone who watched the game saw Spain dominate, and he was the reason. Definitely one of the top 10 players in the world, but never gets that kind of acclaim. Maybe this tournament will help. (Backup: Ryad Boudebouz, Algeria, who might have been the best player on the field against England)

CM Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands — If the Oranje haven’t looked like world beaters, it’s certainly not this guy’s fault. The engine of Inter Milan’s treble had a great goal today and has been stellar in leading his team to two wins and a berth in the knockout phase. Will need some help if they want to live up to that ‘sleeper’ role a lot of people have tagged on ’em. (Backup: Park Ji-Sung, South Korea, who had a phenomenally well-taken goal in the opener)

CM Rafa Marquez, Mexico — El Tri has maybe been the most consistent team in the field so far with two solid performances. This guy imprint is everywhere, with the game-tying goal in the opener and the assist on El Chicharito’s game-winner against France. Could lead a dangerous team going forward. (Backup: Yaya Toure, Ivory Coast, who stood out defensively in a stalemate v. Portugal)

RM Landon Donovan, USA — Not so much a homer pick as it might seem. Played a major part in all three goals against Slovenia, with the early strike early in the second half, the long ball to Altidore to set up the second, and the cross to Edu for the winner. You might notice I’m a bit in denial that the third goal was called back. (Backup: Dennis Rommedahl, Denmark, who was a star even before he scored v. Cameroon)

F Diego Forlan, Uruguay — A lot was going to be on his shoulders for his team to advance, and it’s no surprise his two goals has The Sky Blue on the verge of qualifying to the knockout stage. Sure it came via a deflected shot and a PK, but he’s been the main threat otherwise. (Backup: Robinho, Brazil, who saves his best for the national team)

F Lionel Messi, Argentina — Hasn’t scored yet but has surely been the best player int he tournament so far. No surprise since most think he is the best out there, but it’s nice to see that production finally carry over to the national team. Making Maradona look like he knows what he’s doing, which might be his most commendable feat. (Backup: Samuel Eto’o, Cameroon, who would lead a stronger team if his coach would’ve started their best against Japan)

F Asamoah Gyan, Ghana — Most of Africa’s hopes of having a team in the round of 16 rest with The Black Stars. Both his goals are via PKs, but he’s been one of the more active attacking players in the field. Will need to have one last shining performance against Germany, though, in the last game. (Backup: Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina, who had the easiest hat-trick I’ve ever seen, but three goals is three goals)

* * *

The team would look something like this on the field. Not sure it’s very viable, but that’s how these things go sometimes…






Lots of deserving names left off. What do you think?

Photo credit: Matt Dunham / AP


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