It has been a cracking tournament and a very open and attacking antidote to the cautious sterility of the World Cup last summer. So cheers to all 12 teams for making a go of it. But who are the tournament’s best players? Here’s our best 11. We’d be interested in hearing your thoughts:
GK: Ochoa (Mexico)
Very unlucky to be dropped in favour of Sánchez after some fine performances in the earlier games especially his brilliant performance against Brazil. Now that game is remembered for Castillo’s opener and a limp showing from Brazil. But if Ochoa had not been on top of his game it could all have been remembered somewhat differently.
Defence: Zanetti (Argentina) -Lugano (Uruguay) – Juan (Brazil) – Gilberto (Brazil)
Argentina’s central defence has not been properly tested yet and we suspect Ayala is vulnerable to pace. Lugano is more mobile and despite being younger has mastered the dark arts of his position. For us Juan has been Brazil’s most consistent performer for several years now. He is also a leader on the pitch and when you look at the price Barcelona paid for Milito we believe Roma have done a very clever bit of business here.
There have been no great left-backs in this tournament but Gilberto has tried to inject some attacking intent into a conservative Brazil. Zanetti is one of several Argentines enjoying a wonderful swansong. Safe, consistent but eager to get involved further up the pitch.
Midfield: Torrado (Mexico) – Mascherano (Argentina) – Cristian Rodriguez (Uruguay)
At times Mascherano has looked like he could play in a midfield of one behind an attack of five. He is, as La Nacion put it, an octopus and lion all in one. But we put him alongside Mexico’s Torrado because Torrado deserves his place and they will provide the platform for the more attack minded players we surround them with to get forward. One of these is Cristian Rodriguez on the left who tormented Brazil in the second half of the semi-final.
The No. 10: Riquelme (Argentina)
Not much more to say really. For us the tournament’s best player, the creative force of its best team and already has five goals of his own. He is a joy – and endlessly fascinating – to watch. A pity this type of player is increasingly a rarity in football these days.
Strikers: Messi (Argentina) – Robinho (Brazil)
Castillo came close in getting a place here but he did not do enough over all of Mexico’s five games and was unlucky to be hindered by injury in the last of them. On the other hand Robinho has almost single-handedly got Brazil into the final, scoring six goals along the way. His dive against Ecuador was a stain but without his sparkle you suspect Dunga’s men would already be on holiday. Messi pushes Riquelme close in the vote for best player overall. He has sublime close control aided by a centre of gravity that might defy the laws of physics, great speed and the happy habit of scoring some beautiful goals.
Coach: Coco Basile
Has got his stars working in harmony for the greater good and has made wise use of his subs to swing tight games his way. He has not been stubborn when it has come to rethinking his plans as in the way he overcame his desire for a more traditional target man when it became clear that Diego Milito did not deserve to keep out Tevez (another close candidate for our starting 11).
Maybe not surprisingly all our players come from the semi-finalists, the tournament’s four best teams. Several of the Ecuadorean squad impressed but their fragility told against them. They did after all lose all their games. Countrywise our team is made up of:
Argentina – 4
Brazil – 3
Mexico – 2
Uruguay – 2
So what are your thoughts? Comments please!