PARIS, July 12, 2010 (AFP) - AFP's team of the tournament for the 2010 World Cup, which concluded on Sunday when Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 in the final at Soccer City in Johannesburg.
Iker Casillas (ESP)
- The Spain captain's tournament got off to an appalling start when his error allowed Switzerland to score the only goal of the game in Spain's shock opening defeat. 'San 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 top shot-stopper.
|Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas stands with his gold medal after winning the 2010 World Cup football final. AFP|
Sergio Ramos (ESP)
- Casillas's Real Madrid club-mate may be suspect defensively but he is a formidable competitor and a willing attacker and his flying forays down the right flank were a key feature of both the semi-final defeat of Germany and the victory against the Dutch in the final.
Arne Friedrich (GER)
- 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 composed performances characterised by some impeccably timed tackles. The highlight was the 4-0 quarter-final thrashing of Argentina, in which he scored for the first time in Germany's colours.
Carles Puyol (ESP)
- The steel to the silk supplied by Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Villa, Spain centre-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 semi-final win over Germany. Skinned in the final by Robben, but it was his only real moment of discomfort.
Fabio Coentrao (POR)
- 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 phase. 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)
- The effortless way in which Schweinsteiger assumed command of the German midfield meant that Michael Ballack's absence through injury was barely noticed. He and Sami Khedira prowled the centre of the pitch with unyielding authority and the Bayern Munich star was Germany's creator-in-chief in the famous victories against England and Argentina.
- There is no finer passer of the ball 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 the first World Cup in their history.
Thomas Mueller (GER)
- Barely a year ago Mueller was still considered a reserve player at Bayern Munich but the 20-year-old became the figurehead 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 and was also named Young Player of the Tournament.
Wesley Sneijder (NED)
- Failed to stamp his authority on the final but was instrumental in the Netherlands' progress, scoring the winning goal in the 2-1 quarter-final defeat of Brazil with a rare header and also netting in the 3-2 semi-final win over Uruguay.
Andres Iniesta (ESP)
- His nerveless 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 deft feet, wonderful close control 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)
- 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 semi-finals. 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. Picked up the Golden Ball for the tournament's best player.