worldcup 2010


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

world cup's 2010 Star

South Africa will be filled with goalscorers (Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o), playmakers (Andrea Pirlo, Kaka), defenders (Rio Ferdinand) and goalies (Iker Casillas) who all want one thing: To raise the trophy. We've spotlighted the best here.

Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Mexico
Position: Forward; Age: 37
Details: Left off the 2006 World Cup roster, Blanco returned to form in the past few years, solidifying his reputation as one of the most gifted Mexican players of his generation. If the Tricolor offense shines in South Africa, Blanco will likely be the reason.

Matthew Booth, South Africa
Position: Defender; Age: 33
Details: He is perhaps the host team's most popular player, and crowds love to chant "Boooooooth" whenever he touches the ball. He pairs well with fellow central defender Aaron Mokena.

Claudio Bravo, Chile
Position: Goalkeeper; Age: 27
Details: Torched during World Cup qualifying -- Chile allowed 22 goals -- Bravo is usually on his own in the team's all-out offensive scheme. If he delivers, Chile could be sitting pretty.

Gianluigi Buffon, Italy
Position: Goalkeeper; Age: 32
Details: Buffon made remarkable saves during the Azzurri's victorious 2006 World Cup, and he has yet to have any decline. He's perhaps the world's best keeper and the backbone of Italy's dominant defense.

Tim Cahill, Australia
Position: Midfielder; Age: 30
Details: If it's possible to be an underrated goal scorer, Cahill has done it. He's a consistent star for English club Everton and has notched 19 goals in 39 appearances for the national team.

Fabio Cannavaro, Italy
Position: Defender; Age: 36
Details: Has he lost a step? Perhaps. But few defenders are smarter or maintain better position. Still, he's unlikely to run with fleet forwards.

Iker Casillas, Spain
Position: Goalkeeper; Age: 29
Details: A mainstay for Spain and Real Madrid for the past decade, Casillas is arguably the world's top goalkeeper. He'll be crucial during the Cup, too. Spain has plenty of offensive weapons, but slightly less on defense.

Ashely Cole, England
Position: Defender; Age: 29
Details: One of the world's elite fullbacks, Cole's a reliable defender and a dynamic playmaker on attacking runs, capable of setting up goal-scoring chances with his passes.

Deco, Portugal
Position: Midfielder; Age: 32
Details: Deco's not fast, but he's a superb passer who's usually able to find holes in any defense. If he struggles, Portugal usually does the same.

Clint Dempsey, United State
Position: Midfielder; Age: 27
Details: The most creative U.S. player with the ball, Dempsey will move from midfield to forward depending on how the team's playing. He's capable of highlight-reel goals and looks to be fully recovered from an injury earlier this year.

Landon Donovan, United States
Position: Midfielder; Age: 28
Details: If Donovan doesn't play well, the U.S. usually loses. Simple as that. The good news? Donovan has played marvelously the past few months and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast
Position: Forward; Age: 32
Details: Possibly the world's top forward, Drogba is doubtful for the Cup after breaking an arm in a friendly vs. Japan. That would be a big loss, as he has scored 44 goals in 67 appearances with Les Elephants and is capable of single-handedly carrying them into the second round.

Achille Emana, Cameroon
Position: Midfielder; Age: 28
Details: Emana is responsible for setting up Cameroon's forwards, Eto'o and Idissou, though he's come up with timely scores of his own during the past two African Cup of Nations.

Samuel Eto'o, Cameroon
Position: Forward; Age: 29
Details: A terror for Barcelona for six seasons (108 goals in 145 games), Eto'o switched to Inter this season and promptly won the Champions League. He's fast and rarely misses a scoring chance.

Luis Fabiano, Brazil
Position: Forward; Age: 29
Details: Brazil never lacks for skilled forwards, but Fabiano is somewhat of a rarity for the country: effective, strong and no frills. It works, too. He scored nine goals in 11 World Cup qualifiers.

Alexander Frei, Switzerland
Position: Forward; Age: 30
Details: The country's all-time leading goal scorer (40) has been unlucky with injuries in international play. He's solid but not spectacular.

Diego Forlan, Uruguay
Position: Forward; Age: 31
Details: A two-time winner of Europe's Golden Shoe (given to the top goal scorer among every professional league), Forlan was in peak form this past season. He'll need to be at his best for Uruguay to advance out out Group A.

Yoann Gourcuff, France
Position: Midfielder; Age: 23
Details: He struggled at AC Milan, but Gourcuff emerged as a star at Bourdeaux. Les Bleus need him to become as creative as Zinedine Zidane used to be, which is no small task.

Andres Guardado, Mexico
Position: Midfielder; Age: 23
Details: Already in his second World Cup, Guardado is fast and elusive on the wing. This is his chance to step into the international spotlight.

Thierry Henry, France
Position: Forward; Age: 32
Details: Forget the controversial handball during qualifying. Forget his age. Henry remains France's top scoring threat, though he can't do it on his own anymore.

Tim Howard, United States
Position: Goalkeeper; Age: 31
Details: A worthy successor to the likes of Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller, Howard has earned a reputation as one of the top keepers in the Premier League. If the U.S. defense struggles, he'll have to step up.

Park Ji-sung, South Korea
Position: Midfielder; Age: 29
Details: The team's captain and most famous player, Park isn't the team's main goal scorer. South Korea relies more on his all-around game and experience.

Kaka, Brazil
Position: Midfielder; Age: 28
Details: Kaka doesn't worry about defense from his midfield position. And really, when you have skills like his, why would you? He's fast and has a fine scoring touch.

Philipp Lahm, Germany
Position: Defender; Age: 26
Details: Undersized as a defender, Lahm makes up for any physical shortcomings with his speed, changes of direction and timely crosses for scoring chances. A danger on counter-attacks.

Frank Lampard, England
Position: Midfielder; Age: 31
Details: Now that Lampard has proven he can play in the same national team midfield as Steven Gerrard, he can focus on doing what he does best: Providing consistent play and the occasional goal.

Lucio, Brazil
Position: Defender; Age: 32
Details: Lucio is physical, intense and ensures the Brazil defense -- once an afterthought in the country's scheme -- is actually a strength.

Obafemi Martins, Nigeria
Position: Forward; Age: 25
Details: The lone reliable scoring threat for Nigeria, Martins has 16 goals in 28 international appearances and appears to be fully healthy after a shin injury limited him at the African Cup of Nations.

Lionel Messi, Argentina
Position: Forward; Age: 22
Details: Can the reigning World Player of the Year elevate his team to the trophy? Or will Messi's national team struggles continue? He rarely has shown the same form for Argentina that he has displayed with his club team, Barcelona.

Sulley Muntari, Ghana
Position: Midfielder; Age: 25
Details: One of the keys behind Inter's Champions League triumph in May, Muntari is a confident, skillful player who must help offset the loss of Michael Essien to injury.

Jong Tae-se, North Korea
Position: Forward; Age: 26
Details: Dubbed "Asia's Wayne Rooney," Jong is tough and strong up front, though it remains to be seen how he'll fare in the Cup's toughest group.

Shunsuke Nakamura, Japan
Position: Midfielder; Age: 31
Details: After years of starring for Celtic, Nakamura struggled somewhat with Espanyol this season but remains a reliable playmaker from the wing.

Wilson Palacios, Honduras
Position: Midfielder; Age: 25
Details: The centerpiece of Honduras' team, Palacios once had the reputation of an underachiever with the national team. No longer, thanks to just its second-ever qualification for the World Cup finals.

Andrea Pirlo, Italy
Position: Midfielder; Age: 31
Details: He is an inventive midfielder but is doubtful with a calf injury. That would be a big loss, as he is an inventive player who sets the tempo and also is excellent on free kicks.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
Position: Forward; Age: 25
Details: If anyone is capable of taking Messi's crown as the world's top player, it's Ronaldo. He can score from anywhere, whether it's attacking defenders with a variety of moves or off blistering free kicks. But will he feel like playing?

Franck Ribery, France
Position: Midfielder; Age: 26
Details: Few players match Ribery's attacking ability and ball creativity from the wing. Expect him to set up numerous scoring chances.

Wayne Rooney, England
Position: Forward; Age: 24
Details: Messi and Ronaldo may be more accomplished scorers, but no player is more crucial to his team than Rooney. If he's not getting goals, he's creating them for others.

Georgios Samaras, Greece
Position: Forward; Age: 25
Details: He's perhaps Greece's biggest name -- he's played for Celtic, Manchester City and Heerenveen -- but Samaras has struggled getting the ball into the net during international appearances. He scored just twice in Cup qualifying.

Roque Santa Cruz, Paraguay
Position: Forward; Age: 28
Details: He dealt with injuries this season at Manchester City but is Paraguay's most dangerous attacker and its second-highest goal scorer of all time.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany
Position: Midfielder; Age: 26
Details: A mainstay in the German midfield who emerged as a star during the 2006 Cup, Schweinsteiger is a nifty attacker and proven player.

Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands
Position: Midfielder; Age: 25
Details: Sneijder is part of a loaded Dutch midfield. If he struggles, coach Bert van Marwijk has options. Then again, that doesn't seem likely. Sneijder starred in Inter's run to the Champions crown.

Thomas Sorensen, Denmark
Position: Goalkeeper; Age: 33
Details: Sorensen is the backbone of the Danes' strong, dependable defense that allowed just five goals during World Cup qualifying.

Dejan Stankovic, Serbia
Position: Defender; Age: 31
Details: The team's captain and defensive mainstay. Stankovic has been a star for Inter and keyed Serbia's surprising automatic qualification from their European group.

Fernando Torres, Spain
Position: Forward; Age: 26
Details: Torres is still trying to recover his form after a knee injury, but he remains a goal threat anytime he's on the field. His pairing up front with Villa opens up scoring chances for both players.

Yaya Toure, Ivory Coast
Position: Midfielder; Age: 27
Details: Toure helps bolster what was long one of the Ivory Coast's weak spots -- midfield defense. He's been a force at Barcelona and figures to emerge as one of the Cup's stars.

Vladimir Weiss, Slovakia
Position: Midfielder; Age: 20
Details: The coach's son, Weiss is skilled and aggressive and rarely tires. But his inexperience could prove to be his undoing during key moments.

Robin van Persie, Netherlands
Position: Forward; Age: 27
Details: After three goals in two World Cup warmups matches, van Persie should be primed to lead the always dangerous Dutch attack.

Juan Sebastian Veron, Argentina
Position: Midfielder; Age: 34
Details: The team's resident playmaker from midfield, Veron is an excellent passer and excels at dictating pace. His main job? Get the ball to Messi for scoring chances.

David Villa, Spain
Position: Forward; Age: 27
Details: Villa has scored more goals in the Spanish League than anyone the past six years and notches two in every three games for Spain. His speed and deft scoring touch make him a nightmare for defenses.

Xavi, Spain
Position: Midfielder; Age: 30
Details: Is he the best midfielder Spain has ever seen? Quite possibly, given his performances for Barcelona and during Spain's victorious run at Euro 2008. He'll feed his forwards relentlessly for scoring chances.

Hassan Yebda, Algeria
Position: Midfielder; Age: 26
Details: He switched from France's youth teams to Algeria and excelled during the 2010 African Cup of Nations as a regular starter.

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