Posts Tagged South Africa

The World Cup 2010: All the Winners

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World Cup 2010  Winners : Spain

All it took was a goal from Andres Iniesta in the 118th minute of the match for Spain to create history and win their first ever World Cup. Spain who have long been bugged by the ‘underachievers’ tag took it upon themselves to set some new records. They are the only team to have won the World Cup after losing their  first game and the second team since West Germany to be both European champions as well as World champions. The World Cup final may have been far from the goal-fest many had expected but it surely was a very intense affairs with both teams terrified of making mistakes and desperate to win. Netherlands came with a plan which took the term ‘battle’ a little to literally while Spain worked hard at staying unruffled by the Dutch. Spain waited patiently for an opening and Andres Iniesta one of the coolest players on the pitch found the solitary goal of the match.

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adidas Golden Boot: Thomas Muller (Germany) – 5 goals, 3 assists

If you haven’t heard of Thomas Mueller, get ready because you will be hearing a lot of the young Germany and Bayern Munich player who was quite rightly voted the young player of the tournament. This was Mueller’s first World Cup and  he was tied on goals scored(5), with Spain’s David Villa and Netherlands Wesley Sneidjer. The 20-year-old however, led the tie-breaker on most assists (3) which won him the coveted adidas Golden Boot award. David Villa and Wesley Sneidjer won the adidas Silver boot and adidad Bronze boot. Muller is the third German player to receive the accolade after Franz Beckenbauer (1966) and Lukas Podolski (2006). He has walked into an exclusive club which boasts of the greats of  the game like Pele and Beckenbaur.

“The honour will be with me for all time. It’s a terrific confirmation of the work I’ve put in over the last year, and it’s a huge honour to be part of a group including the likes of Beckenbauer and Pele. It also points to the excellent quality of our youth development work in Germany, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff at Bayern Munich and the Germany national set-up, and the coaching team, who have always kept faith with me. I’ve really enjoyed my football with the lads here,” said the overjoyed winner, although he confessed to one slight regret: “What I really wanted was to win the World Cup as part of a team.

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adidas Golden Ball: Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

Uruguay’s Diego Forlan was award the adidas Golden Ball officially making him  the “Best Player of the 2010 World Cup”. He beat Netherlands Wesley Sneidjer and Spain’s David Villa to win the prestigious award which is decided by votes cast by accredited media representatives. Diego Forlan’s leadership and attacking skills which saw him score 5 goals was one of the main reasons behind Uruguay’s successful World Cup campaign which saw the nation make it to the last four of the tournament for the first time in 40 years. Netherlands Wesley Sneijder and Spain’s David Villa won the adidas Silver Ball and adidas Bronze Ball.

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adidas Golden Glove: Iker Casillas (Spain)

Iker Casillas was overcome by emotion when Andres Iniesta scored the goal which would prove to be the winner and lead Spain to World Cup glory. The Spain captain has conceded only 2 goals in World Cup 2010 and made many stunning saves. Spain won five of their matches by a single goal margin and if it weren’t for great goal-keeping by Casillas, they wouldn’t be World Champions today. Casillas put in great performances against Germany and in the final against Netherlands but probably his most crucial save came in second-half  of  Spain’s quarter-final match against Paraguay when he saved a penalty by Paraguay’s Oscar Cardozo.

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FIFA Fair Play Award: Spain

It is a tribute to the beautiful game when the team that lifts the World Cup trophy also wins the FIFA fair play award and Spain have done both. Manager Vicente Del Bosque’s men collected only eight yellow cards in the course of the tournament, only Korea DPR had fewer yellow cards but the Asians played only 3 matches and went out of the competition quite early.


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World Cup 2010 Final: Netherlands vs. Spain

The final of the World Cup between Netherlands and Spain is going to be a fascinating contest considering how similar the two teams are in their style. Both of them have been traditionally talented teams who play attractive football, have a reputation of ‘bottling it’, underachieving at major competitions and have never won the World Cup.

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Ranking: 4

Netherlands have a greater World Cup record than Spain and have reached the finals of the competition 2 times before. They have a slight advantage going into this game over Spain in the sense that they had 1 day more rest than the Spaniards. Also, Netherlands is the only team this World Cup who came from behind to win their game and they managed that feat against the mighty Brazil. The Dutch are yet to lose in this World Cup and the team will go all out today, to ensure that it is third time lucky for the Dutch.

The Netherlands manager BertVan Marwijk has no injured players and will most likely go with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Maarten Stekelenburg in goal.Their defence will be lead by their captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Gregory van der Wiel, John Heitinga and Joris Mathijsen. Netherland’s strength is their midfield. They have basically two defending midfielders and 3 attacking midfielders. Mark van Bommel and Nigel De Jong recover balls, keep possession,support the back four and launch attacks while Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt and Wesley Sneijder are all capable of scoring and changing games. Robin Van Persie will play upfront as the lone striker and eventhough he hasn’t had a great World Cup, he is in no way not dangerous.

To win and get rid of the tag of  being ‘the best team to never have won the World Cup’, Netherlands must keep possession, take risks and press Spain up front. If they decide to sit back against Spain, they will lose.

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Ranking: 2

Spain can also be called the ‘best team to never have won the World Cup’ and if they lose today that tag will be truer than ever before. The current Spanish team has the best midfield in the world, however, they are still to really convince (and by that I mean score a lot of goals) in this World Cup. However, they have lost only one game so far. Spain were simply brilliant in the way they outplayed Germany in their last match showing that their is a new maturity to this traditionally flamboyant national team. In a tournament where results matter more than how  those results were, Spain have proved to be very very good.  Today they will want to create history by not only winning their first World Cup but also by becoming the only team to have won the World Cup after having lost their first World Cup game.

Spain manager Vincente Del Bosque also has all his starting XI available and will go with a 4-2-3-1 formation and Fernando Torres will probably once again start on the bench, especially since his replacement Pedro put in a great performance in the last match. The youngster was brilliant throughout the game against Germany and didn’t set a foot wrong except when he got a little selfish and cost Spain a sure-shot goal  by trying to score a goal himself rather than pass to David Villa. Iker Casillas will be in goal for Spain with Sergio Ramos,Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Joan Capdevila forming Spain’s defence. Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso sit ahead of them protecting the back four, keeping possession and launching attacks. Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and David Silva will make up Spain’s attacking midfield with David Villa up front.

Spain will be patient and will want to keep possession up front, like they did against Germany and search for openings for David Villa. They will need to be extra careful to keep Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder at bay.

The match is going to spell ecstasy for 11 players and absolute agony for the other 11 and is one of the toughest matches to call even though Spain definitely have an edge over the Dutch going into the game. The Dutch on the other hand have luck on their side considering their defenders have gotten away with some tackles which were close calls, they  won against Uruguay after their Wesley Sneijders’s shot took deflection and no one noticed Van Persie being offside and they got a Brazilian (Felipe Melo) to score an own goal. The stats seem to be on their side too, since they surely must even out not having won despite having reached the Finals. Spain, have the terrible stat of no team having won the World Cup after losing their first game to fight but then again they have octopus Paul on their side!

Manager Speak

“It doesn’t interest me who is the favourite, I don’t care what the world is saying. We will play our own game.” – Bert Van Marwijk, Netherlands manager

“Both have players of great technical ability. It’s going to be great propaganda for world football.” Vincente Del Bosque, Spain manager

Stars to Watch Out For

Netherlands: Wesley Sniejder, Arjen Robben, John Heitinga

Spain: David Villa, Andreas Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Ramos

Go Figure!

This is the first World Cup final that does not involve one of Brazil, Argentina, Italy or (West) Germany

If Holland are the victors they will be the only the second side ever (Brazil in 1970 were the other) to win every match in qualifying and at the tournament itself

If Spain triumph in the final they will be the first side ever to win the World Cup after losing their first game

Spain have completed 3,387 passes at the World Cup – more than any other side

Wesley Sneijder has scored seven goals in his last eight internationals

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World Cup: Golden Ball Nominees

The adidas Golden Ball is the official FIFA trophy for the “Best Player of the Tournament”. The ten nominees are selected by the Technical Study Group (TSG), a FIFA-appointed group of top football coaches and analysts. After which accredited media representatives vote to determine the winners of the adidas Golden, Silver and Bronze ball awards. The winners will be announced after the final on 11 July.

The coveted award was won by Ronaldo in 1998, Oliver Kahn in 2002 and Zinedine Zidane in 2006. The nominees for this year are:

Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

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Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)

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Andres Iniesta (Spain)

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Lionel Messi (Argentina)

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Mesut Oezil (Germany)

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Arjen Robben (Netherlands)

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Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)

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Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)

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David Villa (Spain)

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Xavi Hernanzez (Spain)

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Strangely, in a World Cup which was dominated by teams with very good defenses, no real defenders or goal-keepers have made it to this list.

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World Cup: FIFA Announces Best Young Player Shortlist

At the beginning of every World Cup, talk is dominated by star players but  by the end of the tournament it is almost always the players we discovered  that gets us excited. The World Cup wave sees some players retreating into the vast ocean and others being brought into clear view courtesy a hi-tide. FIFA recognises young footballing talent on the World Stage through one of its official awards, the Hyundai Best Young Player Award. The award continues the tradition of officially recognising the positive impact made by young footballers and is open to all participating players born on or after 1 January 1989.  The nominees and the winner is selected by the Technical Study Group which is a FIFA-appointed group of top football coaches and analysts. TSG’s  director Jean-Paul Brigger is a former Swiss international, Swiss domestic league champion with FC Sion and was the country’s Player of the Year in 1992. He is also a five-time winner of the Swiss Cup and was named Swiss coach of the year in 1995. Other prominent members of the TSG are Christian Karembeu, Gérard Houllier, Holger Osieck, Kalusha Bwalya and Ephraim Matsilele “Jomo” Sono.

The winner of the award will be announced after tonight’s Final and will win thecoveted Hyundai Best Young Player Award trophy and a new Hyundai Tucson ix 35.

The Trophy is designed and created by United Kingdom-based company, Fattorini. It is made from solid steel and is 310mm high and 6.7 kilograms in weight. The spiral design symobolises the notions of a player running rings around opposition, the traditional African fashion accessory of jewellery bangles and the springs found on a car’s suspension system. thereby combining the three key elements: Football, Africa and Hyundai. The spirals also symbolize the football global part of the trophy, forming a strong link to FIFA’s claim: ‘For the Game. For the World.’

The three shortlisted players for the 2010 Hyundai Best Young Player Award include one player who was barely know outside of his country and another who was considered a weak link in his team at the start of the competition. However, if their performances at the 2010 World Cup are anything to go by, they’ll be the stars we’ll be talking at the start of the next World Cup. They nominees are:

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Thomas Mueller (Germany)

Thomas Muellar was a fringe player at Bayern Munich, just two seasons ago and won his first international cap in March 2010 in a friendly against Argentina. However,  German manager Joachim Loew, showed faith in the 20 year old striker who is undoubtedly one of the stars of this World Cup with 5 vital goals  and 3 assists.

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Giovanni Dos Santos (Mexico)

Giovanni Dos Santos announced his arrival on the World football scene at the age 16 when he lead Mexico to victory in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru in 2005. He has already caught the eye of big clubs in Europe. He was in FC Barcelona’s youth team and then moved to the English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur where he played as an attacking midfielder. He currently plays for Turkish giants Galatasaray. At just 21 years of age,  the experienced ‘Gio’ has become one of Mexico’s key players.

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Andre Ayew

The son of Black Stars legend Abedi Pele, “Dede” Ayew became a world champion with the U-20s in Ghana last year. His succesful pass rate of 85% was one of the reasons for Ghana’s success at this World Cup. Following in the footsteps of a father who has a record three African Footballer of the Year awards is never easy but Dede Ayew who has already faced a test of character and bounced back from adversity as his young career threatened to stagnate has handled all the attention and criticism with great poise.

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World Cup Preview: Uruguay vs. Germany

The dream of reaching the final is over for Germany and Uruguay but both teams will want to go out of the 2010 World Cup on a high note by winning today’s third place match. The great thing about third place matches for spectators is that usually it is high scoring with both teams not having much to lose and therefore going all out to score.  Also, third place matches are kinda like a day at the spa, all about relaxation, enjoyment, de-stressing before the most stressful, nail-biting of all matches, the Final.

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Ranking: 16

Uruguay have been the dark horse of the tournament. They have won the World Cup twice but no one really remembers when and no one ever imagined they’d be playing to secure a 3rd place in this World Cup. Los Charrúas featured in the last four of a World Cup for the first time in 40 years.  Uruguay’s journey at this World Cup has been a real adventure and full of surprises.  They played the most dramatic match of this World Cup so far, winning in controversial manner and which might lead to the intoduction of goal-line technology and forever change the beautiful game.  They also surprised the Dutch by putting up a real fight in the Semi-final losing by a narrow 3-2 scoreline. The nation of only 3 million people won the very first World Cup and hasn’t been a big achiever in football for a long long time and to be  officially tagged as the ‘third best team at the World Cup’ would be a great achievement for this football crazy country.

Luis Suarez who was suspended for the Semi-Final against Netherlands will return for Uruguay however star striker Diego Forlan picked up an injury in the last match and could miss out. Oscar Tabarez will most likely go with his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation with Fernando Muslera in goal and Maximiliano Pereira, Mauricio Victorinio, Diego Godin, Jorge Fucile at the back. In the midfield Egidio Arévalo Ríos will sit back with Alvaro Pereira  and Diego Perez expected to provide width. Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez will play up front and form Uruguay’s attack.

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Ranking: 6

To say that Germany have impressed is like saying that ‘Nutella’ is ‘ just alright’. They have made many football newbies and neutrals fall head over heels in love with them and left rival supporters shuddering at the prospect of meeting them in Euro 2012.The German football system is already being quoted as an example for nations who have been less fortunate (read England) in achieving their World Cup ambitions.  Today, Joachim Loew will want his players to just go out there, play their game, enjoy the occasion and if  Miroslav Klose can beat Ronaldo’s 15 goal World Cup record, it will be a bonus, albeit a deserved one.  We will finally get to judge just how important the young Thomas Muller, who comes back into the starting XI after serving a one-match suspension, is to Germany’s cause.   Unfortunately, Germany’s ‘national’ goal scoring machine Miroslav Klose might miss out on today’s game and an opportunity to set a new World Cup record due to an injury. Loew will go with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Manuel Neuer in goal and Arne Friedrich, Per Mertesacker, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng at the back. Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger will look to control the midfield. Miroslav Klose will lead Germany’s attack with Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski playing behind him.

Both team will definitely play an open game and will put up a good show for the fans as they bow out of the World Cup. It will be a chance for the fans to see some stars playing their last World Cup match and while other ‘newly’ discovered stars  like Muller and Ozil will get an opportunity to impress the fans again and leave them  with high expectations for the next World Cup. Today’s fixture is all about the joy of football and a tribute to skills and ability and spirit of both these wonderful teams. Germany’s young team might just win their consecutive World Cup 3rd place today.

Manager Speak

“Finishing fourth is not the same as third. We’ll go into the game with the same passion as we did against Holland.” – Oscar Tabarez, Uruguay manager

“Nobody needs to hang their heads low and we want to have a good final match.” – Joachim Loew, Germany manager

Stars to Watch Out For

Uruguay: Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan, Fernando Muslera

Germany: Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose, Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger

Go Figure!

Uruguay’s loss to Holland in the semi-final was their first international defeat of 2010

This is a record fifth appearance in a World Cup third-place play-off match for Germany – they have won three times (1934, 1970 and 2006) and lost once (1958)

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World Cup Preview: Germany vs. Spain

The second Semi-Final of the World Cup 2010 has all the elements to make it a classic. It sees a young, vibrant, new-look German side who have been stamping their authority on the tournament round by round take on Spain who have not hit top-form in the tournament yet.

The fixture is a repeat of the 2008 European Championship Final in which Lukas Podolski was head-butted by David Silva in an incident missed by the officials and a Fernando Torres strike broke German hearts settling the match 1-0 in Spain’s favour. The Germans would like nothing more than to turn the tables on Spain today.

Spain who are often labelled as ‘underachievers’ at major tournaments, ‘partly’ got rid of that label with 2008 Euro win but their real test will be winning the World Cup, something they have never done before. Interestingly, Germany who are almost always favourites haven’t won the World Cup since reunification and will want to win it this time with their vibrant, multi-ethnic team.

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Ranking: 6

Germany have been the surprise of the tournament. Joachim Loew’s team with so many young players coming in to replace injured experienced players and most players playing at changed positions was written off even before a ball was kicked. However, Germany in their first match against Australia won with an impressive 4 goals and single-handedly lighted up a World Cup which was till then looking quite drab. Doubters like me, continued to believe that the win was more courtesy of a poor performance by Australia than phenomenal German play. However, to prove that the performance against Australia was no fluke, Germany have since then repeated the feat of scoring 4 goals as they knockout heavyweights Argentina and  England out of the tournament, on their way to the Semi-Final.

Its tough not to support this German side which quite sensibly favours youth and pace over the oft overrated experience and today will be another test for them. Germany are without the suspended Thomas Muellar while both Cacau and Sami Khedira have shaken off their injuries and will be available for today’s match. Thomas Muellar will most likely be replaced by Toni Koos on the right.

Germany manager Joachim Loew will go with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Manuel Neuer in goal and Arne Friedrich, Per Mertesacker, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng at the back. Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger will look to control the midfield.  Mesut Ozil and Toni Koos will combine with Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose to form Germany’s attack.

For Germany to win today, they need Khedira and Schweinsteiger to control the formidable Spanish duo of Iniesta and Xavi Alonso in midfield. Another interesting battle will be the one down the German right and the Spanish left between David Villa and Philip Lahm. David Villa has been absolutely stunning in the World Cup and if the German captain can contain the Spaniard, he would have negated Spain’s most potent goal threat.

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Ranking: 2

Spain came into the World Cup as one of the favourites. They have won every single game since their shock defeat against Switzerland in their World Cup opening match. However, La Furia Roja have yet to have as authoritative a win as Germany’s wins in their matches. Spain have struggled to find goals with Fernando Torres not being able to find form and defensive teams being successful in containing their midfield. Even Spain’s defence hasn’t looked its best. The free-scoring Spain have a reputation to protect today, with  Germany’s 13 goals being more than double the number that Spain have managed so far.

Vincente Del Bosque will be faced with a tough decision about whether or not to keep Fernando Torres in the starting line-up. The striker has struggled to find form and playing him today might be Spain’s undoing. However, he did score the winner in the 2008 Euro and is a super finisher when he is in form.  If the Liverpool striker is dropped he will most likely be replaced by Cescs Fabregas (who probably isn’t 100% fit) or David Silva (of Lukas Podolski headbutt fame).

Spain will go with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Iker Casillas in goal and Sergio Ramos,Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Joan Capdevila at the back. Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso sit ahead of them. Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and David Silva will make up Spain’s attacking midfield with David Villa up front.

Spain’s Carles Puyol who has been known to lose his focus sometimes cannot afford to do so today as he tries to keep Germany’s ‘national’ goal scoring machine Miroslav Klose at bay. Sergio Busquets is another player whose performance could be crucial for Spain. The Barcelona star  must contain one of the stars of the 2010 World Cup and the most likely to win ‘the best young player’ award for this World Cup Mesut Ozil from supplying  to Germany’s attackers, for Spain to frustrate Germany.

Spain have the best midfield in the tournament while Germany have the best attack in the  tournament. Spain must not make the mistake Argentina and England made against Germany and need to control the game and keep their organisation to win. So far, Germany have been defying the odds and winning. However, Spain are still Spain and can’t be written off just because they aren’t in top-gear yet. They can turn it on anytime and are dangerous even when they aren’t at their best.

Manager Speak

“Spain do not have one Messi. They have more than one Messi. Especially in attack there are many players who can decide a game. Spain are not like England and Argentina, teams that make mistakes.” – Joachim Loew, Germany manager

“We know we can play better than we have done so far, hopefully it will be an open match and a good advert for football.” – Vincente Del Bosque

Lucky Charms

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Okay, so the octopus has ditched Germany by predicting a Spain win. However, Germany have another potent weapon in Joachim Loew’s blue jumper which the manager was wearing when Germany beat Argentina and England. Loew will be wearing the blue jumper today and so far whenever he dons the blue sweater, Germany score 4 goals. Spain you have been warned.

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If Germany have their blue sweater, Spain have Rafael Nadal. Yep, the Spanish tennis star.  The last time Nadal won the Wimbledon (his first Wimbledon title), Spain won the Euro. He has won the Wimbledon again. Germany you have been warned.

Stars to Watch Out For

Germany: Miroslav Klose, Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski

Spain: David Villa, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos

Go Figure!

Thomas Müller could be missed – he has scored four goals from four shots on target in this tournament

David Villa is one goal away from equalling Raúl’s record as Spain’s all-time top scorer (44)

Xavi has completed more passes at the World Cup (404) than any other player

All 14 of Miroslav Klose’s World Cup goals have come in open play and from inside the box, and half of them have been headers.

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World Cup Preview: Uruguay vs. Netherlands

When we talk about South American teams, we usually mean Argentina or Brazil. No one ever thinks about Uruguay even though Uruguay won the very first World Cup. This time Uruguay have made people sit up and pay attention. Their win over Ghana  which assured them a place in the Semi-Finals was undoubtedly the most dramatic of this World Cup. Since Uruguay have outlasted Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay in the tournament they are South America’s only hope to win the  2010 World Cup. No one could have guessed that La Celeste who qualified for this year’s competition after winning a play-off against Costa Rica would be only one win away from a place in the single biggest football match, the World Cup Final. Uruguay haven’t even made it to the final since 1950 and Oscar Tabarez’s team wants to change that. Netherlands on the other hand, like Spain,  have always had a talented team but failed to achieve real glory.  Oranje haven’t been past the semis in 32 years after having made it to consecutive finals in 1974 and 1978 where they lost to West Germany and Argentina respectively. Usually, its Brazil that bursts the Oranje bubble but this time the Dutch have already sent the Brazilians packing and will therefore feel this to be their best chance in a long time, to win the World Cup.

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Ranking: 16

Uruguay is a small nation steeped in football history. They play a game which is more scrappy and physical  and quite unlike the quintessential flamboyant South American ‘samba’ style of football. They qualified for the knockout stages as winners of Group A by drawing against France and beating South Africa and Mexico. It was in the knock-out stages in their game against Ghana where things took a turn for the dramatic for Uruguay. In the first half of stoppage time, Ghana scored and it looked like Uruguay were going back home. However,Diego Forlan had other ideas and leveled the score in the second half of stoppage time by netting one for the South Americans. In the last minute of added time however, Ghana struck again but this time, Luis Suarez handled the ball on the line but stopping a sure shot goal. Suarez was sent off and Ghana were awarded a penalty. Once again, it looked certain that the South Americans were on their way out. However, Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan missed and the game went to a penalty shoot with Uruguay still hanging on. And then, La Celeste  broke Ghanaian hearts and won 5-3 on penalty kicks.

It is this kind of  ‘never-die-spirit’  that can once again be expected from Uruguay today. Oscar Tabarez has so far been able to select a steady team but today he will be without the suspended Luis Suarez and Jorge Fucile. Diego Lugano, who went off early in the game against Ghana with a knee problem is also unlikely to star in today’s game. However, defender Diego Godin has recovered from his injury and will be available for today’s match. Tabarez will most likely go with a 4-4-2 formation with Fernando Muslera in goal and Maximiliano Pereira, Diego Godin, Maurice Victorino and Martin Caceres forming Uruguay back four. In the midfield, Egidio Arévalo Ríos and Walter Gargano will hold the midfield and shield the back four. Alvaro Pereira  and Diego Perez will provide width when they can. Edinson Cavani  will partner Diego Forlan up front in leading Uruguay’s attack.

Uruguay want to win this game bad and they have a great defence and are dangerous up front. They will put up a great fight and cannot be taken lightly.
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Ranking: 4

Netherlands are yet to lose a game in South Africa and dutch striker Wesley Sneijder is the joint-highest scorer at the World Cup. Oranje beat favourites Brazil 2-1 in their last match to progress to the quarterfinals. All these stats point to a very strong World Cup campaign so far and yet many still feel that Netherlands are still not in top gear. They definitely seem to be the team that will peak at absolutely the right time. They go into this game as favourites and are expected to beat Uruguay. However,  the same was expected of the Dutch in their Euro 2008 quarter- final match against Russia which they lost in extra time. Today, Netherlands must avoid complacency or once again it could become their undoing.

The Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk, has a formidable record of 13 wins from 13 games in competitive matches and will want to keep it that way. He will be without the suspended Gregory van der Wiel and Nigel de Jong and will most likely replace them with Khalid Boulahrouz and Demy de Zeeuw. Luckily for Netherlands, Robin Van Persie’s elbow injury wasn’t serious and neither was Joris Mathijsen’s knee-problem and both of the players are expected to star in today match. Marwijk will most likely go with his favourite 4-2-3-1 formation with Maarten Stekelenburg in goal and John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Khalid Boulahrouz at the back. Demy De Zeeuw and Mark van Bommel will hold midfield for Holland. Robin Van Persie will play alone up-front with offensive midfielders Dirk Kuyt, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder behind him.

Netherlands will look to control the ball and the pace of the game with Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben making life very tough for the Uruguan defence while the Dutch defender John Heitinga will look to keep his former club mate from Athletico Madrid Diego Forlan from scoring for Uruguay.

Uruguay are without Luis Suarez and that tips the balance in Netherlands favour. However, Netherlands is without Nigel De Jong, whose tackles will be sorely (pun unintended!) missed. Netherlands must keep focus to win today.

Manager Speak

“We will certainly not throw in the towel before playing that match. Holland will be very difficult but not impossible.” – Oscar Tabarez, Uruguay manager

“Uruguay didn’t reach the final for nothing, so we have to really focus again and not think that we’re already there.”   – Bert van Warwijk, Netherlands manager

Stars to Watch Out For

Uruguay: Diego Forlan, Diego Perez, Edinson Cavani

Netherlands: Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Dirk Kuyt, Robin Van Persie

Go Figure!

These sides have met on four occasions in total, with Uruguay winning three matches and the Dutch one.

Three of Diego Forlán’s four goals in World Cup finals history have come from outside the box

Wesley Sneijder has now scored five goals in his last seven internationals

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