FIFA announced their picks for a 23-man squad of World Cup 2006. As expected, there were some glaring omissions, ridiculous inclusions and a tendency to be out of touch with the tournament that had actually gone on.
In contrast, UEFA’s online magazine had a much more realistic and balanced look to its team of the tournament. It was easier for them because they were picking a Eurpoean team instead of a squad but the fact that they plumped for players that fit together instead of throwing down star names and political decisions in a jumble was more than FIFA could do.
Here are the two lists:
FIFA World Cup Squad of the Tournament
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Jens Lehmann (Germany), Ricardo (Portugal)
Defenders: Roberto Ayala (Argentina), John Terry (England), Lilian Thuram (France), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), Gianluca Zambrotta (Italy), Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal)
Midfielders: Ze Roberto (Brazil), Patrick Vieira (France), Zinedine Zidane (France), Michael Ballack (Germany), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Gennaro Gattuso (Italy), Luis Figo (Portugal), Maniche (Portugal)
Strikers: Hernan Crespo (Argentina), Thierry Henry (France), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Francesco Totti (Italy), Luca Toni (Italy)
They got it right with the keepers, although I imagine van der Sar would feel aggreived to miss out. He made one of the best saves of the tournament to deny Tevez a goal in the group stage clash between Holland and Argentina, and if Holland had gone past the second round he would surely be in the list.
And this is where it starts getting hairy. They picked 5 centre-backs and 2 full-backs in their list of defenders, but for the life of me I cannot understand why Rio Ferdinand and Rafael Marquez are not in there. Carvalho had a good tournament but surely Marquez was better in his leadership and in his defending. And don’t even get me started on Terry’s pick. He is a great defender, but this was not his World Cup. The spotlight was on Terry, and he did a good job, but Ferdinand had been mopping up for him for most of the tournament.
Other than those two, it’s hard to see who else they could have picked. Ayala didn’t exactly do a great job either – but I’d call it a toss-up between him and Metzelder for that final spot.
Was Luis Figo really as effective as Ronaldo for Portugal? FIFA’s blacklisting of Ronaldo (denying him the Best Young Player award and now keeping him out of the squad when he was Portugal’s best outfield player) is shameful. Ronaldo is a diver, but why is that standing in the way of him getting recognition for his skills?
Midfielders who miss out include Robben, Gerrard, Beckham (impact-wise, he was one of England’s top performers), Frings (black-listed again for his punch?), Fabregas, Essien, Appiah and possibly Deco. Of the midfielders in the squad, Ze Roberto is an excellent choice while Vieira, Zidane and Pirlo are shoe-ins. I wouldn’t be so sure of Ballack (whose ‘misses’ are second only to Lampard), Gattuso (who’s been good without being great and could have been ousted by Frings), Figo and Maniche.
Strikers? Where is Torres? Where is Tevez? Toni and Totti do not deserve to be in that list, and that leaves two spaces up for grabs. Torres is definitely one of those who should be included. The last spot? Tevez, Podolski, Ronaldo – all three deserve to be in there. I’d go for Ronaldo, because Tevez didnt get enough time on the pitch (like Messi) and Podolski wasn’t that good in this tournament.
UEFA Magazine’s European Team of the Tournament
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Right-back: Gianluca Zambrotta (Italy)
Centre back: Lilian Thuram (France)
Centre back: Fabio Cannavaro (Italy)
Left-back: Philipp Lahm (Germany)
Midfield: Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
Midfield: Patrick Vieira (France)
Midfield: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Midfield: Zinédine Zidane (France)
Striker: Miroslav Klose (Germany)
Striker: Fernando Torres (Spain)
On current form, you could not pick a better team. However, there is one change I’d make, and that is to bring Henry in for Torres. You can’t keep out Klose – the man has 10 goals in 2 World Cups, and is poised to add to that tally today against Portugal. Not stunning but deathly effective.
And, while we’re doing this, here are the subs (these are from me – and they have to be European, remember): Lehmann (Germany), William Gallas (France), Henry (France), Deco (Portugal), Ribery (France), Rio Ferdinand (England).
Too bad I can’t stick Hargreaves and Gerrard anywhere in the team 🙂