World Cup ’10: Team Of The World Cup: The Best XI


32 countries, 64 matches, 736 players – the selection of the best eleven is by no means a straightforward task. Every particular individual has their own preference, likes-dislikes, favorites and reasons – making this selection a recipe for debate and controversy. The fact that  there were quite a few outstanding performances from players playing for inferior teams who got knocked out early in the tournament, and were thus unable to showcase their true credentials during the moments it mattered most – makes the selection even more difficult.

We, at TheHardTackle, after a couple of brainstorming sessions, opted for a 4-1-3-1-1 formation for our Team of the World Cup – since having a holding midfielder and a lone striker has been the predominant choice for most of the successful teams in this campaign. Here goes the analysis and reasons behind each of the selections.

Goalkeeping is known as the last line of defense – but in modern day football, a goalkeeper equally contributes to the attack as well. A goalkeeper having the vision to distribute the ball properly, enhances his team’s effectiveness in building up an attacking move. The World Cup witnessed some amazing performances from under the bar. Switzerland’s Diego Benaglio almost single-handedly won their opening match against World Champions Spain, pulling off a series of outstanding saves. Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama and Greece’s Alexandros Tzorvas deserve special mention. It’s saddening that their teams failed to clear the first round hurdle and their heroics got cut short. Among the teams which managed to go through to the later stages of the world cup, Germany’s Manuel Neuer and Netherlands’ Maartin Stekelenburg caught the limelight. But our choice to represent this better than the best squad is Spain’s Iker Casillas. Casillas was the backbone of Spanish defense that conceded just two goals in the entire campaign. His energetic display, command over aerial balls, brilliant leadership quality to marshal his defense and thoughtful distribution makes him stand apart from the crowd of other excellent shot stoppers.

July 12, 2010 - 06162060 date 11 07 2010 Copyright imago Iker Casillas of Spain Celebrates The Winning Goal by leaping in The Air FIFA World Cup 2010 Final Netherlands v Spain 11th July 2010 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK men Football World Cup National team international match Final Johannesburg Action shot Single cut out Vdig 2010 vertical Highlight premiumd.


Per Mertesacker has been like the Rock of Gibraltar at the center of the German defense. He is an obvious choice in this team for one of the two center back roles. There is stiff competition for the other center back slot between Spaniard defensive duo of Carles Puyol – Gerard Pique, Brazilian captain Lucio, Portugal’s Ricardo Carvalho and Netherlands’ Joris Mathijsen. But our selection is Uruguayan pillar of the defense Diego Lugano. All of them are equally competent but Lugano scores over others for his consistency and inspirational leadership capabilities.


Jul 07, 2010 - Durban, South Africa - German player PER MERTESACKER during the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup semi final game between Germany and Spain. Spain won 1:0. 

  July 10, 2010 - South Africa - Football - Uruguay v Germany FIFA World Cup Third/Fourth Place Play-Off - South Africa 2010 - Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa - 10/7/10..Uruguay's Diego Lugano celebrates during the match.


This World Cup has been an eye-opener in terms of the offensive usage of full backs. Teams like Spain and Brazil exploited the opposition defense with marauding full backs equally apt in attacking through the wings with serious pace. Brazil’s Maicon, Germany’s Lahm, Algeria’s Nadir Belhadj, Portugal’s Fabio Coentrao and Uruguay’s Jorge Fucile showed the world that they can tear apart any defense with sheer pace without compromising their defensive duties. TheHardTackle’s choices are Spain’s Sergio Ramos and  Netherlands’ Giovanni van Bronckhorst for helping their respective teams to go all the way till the finals.


July 11, 2010 - Johannesburg, South Africa - epa02245297 Netherlands' Giovanni van Bronckhorst (L) and Spain's Sergio Ramos (R) during the FIFA World Cup 2010 Final match between the Netherlands and Spain at the Soccer City stadium outside Johannesburg, South Africa, 11 July 2010.

The primary responsibility of a holding midfielder is to disrupt the rhythm of opposition players and prevent them from taking the reign of the midfield battle. Argentina’s Javier Mascherano and Netherland’s van Bommel and Nigel de Jong played the role of a snatcher to perfection. But Bastin Schewinsteinger and Spain’s Xabi Alonso gave the role a new dimension by blending creativity into destruction. Xabi Alonso is our pick for the role for flawlessly pulling the strings of Spanish attack as a deep lying play-maker.    


Spain's Xabi Alonso in action..FIFA World Cup 2010 Final..Netherlands v Spain..11th July, 2010.      


For the solitary central midfielder role, there is a bunch of exceptional performers who hogged the spotlight in this world cup campaign. Spain’s Xavi, USA’s Landon Donovan, Germany’s Mesut Özil, South Korea’s Ji-Sung Park, Uruguay’s Diego Perez, Ghana’s Kevin Prince Boateng all are competent contenders. But TheHardTackle gives its nod to Wesley Sneijder for his trademark defense splitting through balls and his excellent goal scoring tally. We can sense Mr. Mesut Özil  demanding an explanation in a mean voice against the inclusion of Sneijder, but our apologies to him – the argument regarding the goals tally is ready to come to our rescue.


July 12, 2010 - 06161880 date 11 07 2010 Copyright imago Sesa Wesley Sneijder Olanda Olanda Spagna Netherlands vs Spain Final Dei Campionati DEL Mondo Tue Calcio FIFA 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 Final Soccer City Stage Johannesburg South Africa 11 07 2010 Giorgio Perottino Inside photo PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxITAxFRA GIORGIOXPEROTTINO men Football World Cup National team international match Final Johannesburg Action shot Single Vdig 2010 horizontal premiumd.


Arjen Robben – menacing with his bagful of tricks – has been a revelation in this World Cup. After missing out on the first two group league matches, he seemed to be on a mission to compensate for the loss. Spain’s Iniesta, Chile’s Alexis Sanchez, Japan’s Keisuke Honda and Germany’s young sensation Thomas Mueller looked lively on the flanks with their prowling runs. Our choice to partner Robben in the wings is the Golden Boot Winner Thomas Mueller with five goals and three assists to his name. But as both of them prefer to play on the right side of the pitch, Robben has to do the sacrifice for his younger partner and shift to the left wing – as it is a proven fact that the Bayern Munich talisman is equally proficient on the left as well.


July 11, 2010 - South Africa - Football - Holland v Spain FIFA World Cup Final - South Africa 2010 - Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa - 11/7/10..Holland's Arjen Robben.

July 09, 2010 - Erasmia, South Africa - epa02242505 German national soccer team forward Thomas Mueller attends a press conference of the German team in the Velmore Hotel in Erasmia, near Pretoria, South Africa, 09 July 2010. Germany will face Uruguay in the FIFA 2010 World Cup third place soccer match on July 10 in Port Elizabeth.

Lionel Messi is an automatic choice for the role of the free striker – playing in the hole. It’s highly unfortunate that football lovers all over the world have been robbed off from watching Messi magic beyond the last eight stage. But with just five appearances in this world cup, the messiah has proved his mettle to take forward Diego Maradona’s legacy.

Argentina's Lionel Messi in action..FIFA World Cup 2010 Quarter Finals..Argentina v Germany..3rd July, 2010.


We cannot think of any player other than the Player of the Tournament Diego Forlan to fill in the lone striker slot. Forlan has been the most outstanding performer of this world cup and it was fitting reward for him to be adjudged the Golden Ball Winner in this campaign. Five goals from the inspirational Uruguayan inspired his country to a rather improbable semifinal berth. His incisive passing, great vision of the game and unmatchable dead ball skills ensured his contribution to be elevated far beyond the five important strikes and resulted in due recognition of the immense talent he possesses. David Villa, Robinho, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Asamoah Gyan and Robert Vittek – all are unfortunate to miss out, but to be precise, no one deserved it more than the man of the moment Diego Forlan.


July 10, 2010 - South Africa - Football - Uruguay v Germany FIFA World Cup Third/Fourth Place Play-Off - South Africa 2010 - Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa - 10/7/10..Uruguay's Diego Forlan celebrates scoring their second goal.

So here’s a final look at our conclusive Team of the World Cup 2010:

Iker Casillas

Sergio Ramos — Per Mertesackker——— Diego Lugano —- van Bronckhorst

Xabi Alonso


Thomas Muller————– Wesley Sneijder————– Arjen Robben
Lionel Messi

Diego Forlan


Honorary Reserves XI:

Diego Benagalio

Philipp Lahm —— Carles Puyol ——— Gerrard Pique —– Nadir Belhadj


Bastin Schewinsteinger

Alexis Sanchez ————– Andres Iniesta ————– Ji-Sung Park
Asamoah Gyan —————————  David Villa



That’s our team at TheHardTackle – but you might have different opinions and we respect that. Do you agree with our selections? If not, what is your Team of the World Cup 2010?

19 Responses to “World Cup ’10: Team Of The World Cup: The Best XI”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Soccerfan says:

    Excellent selection of players for both the teams. Your teams completely matched with my choices. Strange that no Brazilians could make it to this list – but they should not hav any complaints.

    One more thing I want to tell you guys that I fully enjoyed your coverage of the world cup and have been a regular visitor each and everyday. You guys did an awesome job. Keep up the good work. Cheers.

  2. Anustup Sikdar says:

    Xavi has not been at his best, AGREED.
    But does that mean he cannot even make it into the second team?

  3. BLueFan says:

    Iker Casillas ; Lahm — Mertesackker——— Puyol —- Coentrao; Schweinsteiger–Alonso;
    Thomas Muller—– Andreas Iniesta—– Carlos Tevez; Diego Forlan in a 4-2-3-1 formation

  4. Sarad says:

    Deb: Nice selection and well written.

    But selection of Messi in the hole and no brazilian in yr 11 shows yr inclination towards Argentina. Never mind.

    Personally – I would like to have Forlan in that hole (instead of Messi) and Villa upfront. And Lahm for Ramos. There was not a single one who went past him in the whole tourney and was a wonderful leader.

  5. Prazy says:

    I would include Sami Khedira in the hard tackler’s role, for he filled Ballack’s boots more than admirably. In the reserves line up, Belhadj should be replaced by Portugal’s Coentrao; the lad has been quite a revelation going forward! The rest I would agree with you :-)

  6. Shibamay Mitra says:

    My Team will be in a 4-1-3-2 formation…………
    Iker Casillas
    Ramos Mertesacker Pique Capdevilla
    Messi Sneijder Iniesta
    Forlan Villa

  7. Sarad says:

    Just another thing. Have we ever seen Alonso in a single DMF role like it’s presented here?

    He’s a sprayer and it’s quite different than a traditional defensive mid. Moreover there were Mascherano and Khedira who excelled in that single DMF role in this tourney.

  8. Anustup Sikdar says:

    Iker Casillas
    Sergio Ramos — Per Mertesackker——— Charles Puyol (C) —- van Bronckhorst
    Xabi Alonso
    Thomas Muller————–Xavi————– Iniesta

    PS: Chances are high that I may be accused of being prejudiced towards the Catalans… :)

  9. Anustup Sikdar says:

    1. Khedira
    2. Villa
    3. Ozil
    4. Pique
    5. Conterao

  10. Arnav says:

    In the back up team I would like to see Coentrao in LB. And what about Paston, the kiwi shot stopper? He single handedly kept them from losing a single match :)

  11. redNblack_blood says:

    ok i would go with 4-4-1-1
    Lahm(c)-Per Mertesackker-Gerrard Pique- Van Bronckhorst

    Neur (Gk)
    p.s. come on deb u got to fix ozil in the starting 11

  12. Dinar says:






  13. Dinar says:






  14. Everything bunrns says:


    -Lahm—— Friedrich—-Lugano—Van Bronckhaurst

    ——–Van Bommel——–Xavi————



  15. Vishnu says:

    great work dude. Great pick and well written.

  16. aamir says:





  17. Biplab says:

    It’s a dream team to have. I would just interchange Robben and Iniesta in the two squads. Also Stekelnburg in place of Casillas in the goal.

    How about a team of super flops? That would not require much of thought, just put the whole English squad – no need for any reasing also. 😉

  18. Luis says:

    Team of Super flops! Lol…
    BTW good pick and nicely narrated…

  19. Subhasish says:

    I was busy in an official trip for the last whole week, so was unable to catch up with your updates. And here it is, so many wonderful articles waiting for me. Wonderful job done – I bet, no team can beat this dream-11. :)