With only just over a week to go until the big kick off, what I decided to do for my latest blog was pick a team of stars to win the tournament, but with the rule that I could only select one player from each country.
And so, here's my team. One that would take some beating I'm sure you'll agree!:
GK Joe Hart (England) - If you were to discount Rooney, Hart is in my opinion England's only true World Class player. Had an up and down season with Manchester City, but overcame being dropped after a poor run of form to return and have a brilliant run, keeping 8 clean sheets in the last 14 league matches. Has never let England down (see Robinson, Carson, Green, etc.), and is extremely good at facing penalties.
RB Darijo Srna (Croatia) - Extremely solid veteran. Captain of Shakhtar Donetsk and his country. Has been one of the leading right backs in the European game for nigh on a decade now.
CB Vincent Kompany (Belgium) - Great in the air, strong and brave in the tackle, quick over ground, rarely makes a mistake (Liverpool away not withstanding), able to bring the ball out from the back, comfortable passer. There really isn't a lot of weaknesses in his arsenal.
CB Thiago Silva (Brazil) - Possibly the best defender in the world? As with Kompany, he really has very few weaknesses, and his ability on the ball is exceptional. Captain of his country, playing at home, so he gets the armband.
LB Philipp Lahm (Germany) - One of the most versatile players in the world. He could fill in more than adequately (and has to some effect) in any position across the defence or midfield. Has gradually been moulded into a midfielder at Bayern Munich initially by Jupp Heynckes, and laterly by Guardiola. Incredibly comfortable on the ball, and fantastic going forward with one of the best deliveries from wide areas in world football.
RM Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast) - One of the players of the year in the Premier League. Physically, a beast, in the mould of the traditional box to box midfielder. Has added a lot of goals to his game, scoring a career best 24 goals in total last season. He appears to be able to bully opposition; see his goal in the demolition of Aston Villa for an example of his ability to pick up the ball deep, drive forward, power past others and be clinical when it comes to taking his shot. I'd have chopped him down on the half way line in that instance, but that's by the by. Likely to throw a strop if he's not given enough attention/a birthday cake.
CM Andrea Pirlo (Italy) - For me, the most gifted midfielder in the world. An extraordinary player, who just makes everything look so easy. I'd deploy him to sit in the holding role, dictating the tempo of play, something he is capable of doing better than any other player I can think of (special nod to Xavi). Always seems to have time on the ball, and has about the widest range of passing you can imagine. Can put a ball on a six pence from distance. A free kick maestro, he'd be my dead ball specialist, which is sure to upset a lot of the ego's in this side. His beard and general attitude make him the coolest player in this team.
LM Andres Iniesta (Spain) - A diminutive, but tough player, Iniesta would be expected to keep things ticking over, as well as supporting the front three, and providing his incisive through balls for them to hammer home. Scored the winning goal in the last World Cup in South Africa, and is about as decorated a player as you could hope to find. Not had the best season with a Barcelona side going through a difficult period, so will be desperate to make a mark on the tournament.
LF Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) - The best player in the world over the last couple of seasons. Continues to score goals at a quite frightening rate, and is capable of dragging his team to victories on his own, which is something he will have to do with a bang average Portugal side if they want to make an impression this summer. His sheer pace and power is a sight to behold, and he loves to show us this by ripping his top off at any given opportunity. Likely to sulk when I tell him Pirlo is on free kicks, so I'll let him have penalties to appease him.
CF Robin Van Persie (Holland) - Not at his best over the past season, with a number of questionable injuries stopping him playing for a manager he clearly had no respect for (he might well feel the same about me to be honest). Probably not the best player for team morale, but when he is on form he is as good a striker as you'll find. Has been banging the goals in during Holland's warm up games, so should hit the ground running.
RF Lionel Messi (Argentina) - The little genius. Many rank him as the best player to ever have played the game, something I feel he has some way yet to prove. As with Ronaldo, his goalscoring ratio is phenomenal, and he never seems to have a bad game. His touch and vision is up there with the best the game has ever seen, and he is ice cold in front of goal. Playing in this team should see him win the title which has so far eluded him, a stick with which he is frequently beaten. Maradona was able to win the tournament for Argentina almost single handedly, and unless Messi can lead a considerably better side to the title, question marks will always remain. Can this year be his year?
Subs: Howard (USA), Suarez (Uruguay), Sanchez (Chile), Varane (France), Pjanic (Bosnia-Hercegovina)
So, what do you think? Is this team too attacking? Could anyone beat a team containing Ronaldo and Messi? Are there any weaknesses?
What players would you have selected, and who would have missed out?
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