Xavi, Sergio Ramos headlined 2010 World Cup Team of the Tournament
As Qatar prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, HITC Sport looks back at the South Africa 2010 team of the tournament – headlined by Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Ramos.
South Africa hosted the 19th edition of the quadrennial tournament to become the first African nation to host the finals. Qatar will now become the first Middle Eastern country to host a Fifa event when it welcomes the football family from 20 November to 18 December.
This year’s tournament will also be the first World Cup held in the European winter and the last with 32 teams. FIFA will increase the number of competing countries to 48 sides for the 2026 edition of the competition hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Spain will be hoping to head across the Atlantic Ocean again as reigning World Cup winners, as they did in 2014 in Brazil. La Roja lit up the South Africa edition with their famous brand of tiki-taka football under Vicente del Bosque for their first and so far only Fifa title.
Del Bosque had one of the best teams in international football at the time, with a dominant midfield capable of dominating possession. Spain also traveled to South Africa as UEFA Euro 2008 champions, expected to once again use short passing and quick movements.
However, the tournament did not start well for La Roja as Switzerland stunned Spain with a 1-0 win in their opening tie in Group H. However, Del Bosque’s side beat Honduras and Chile to top the table before eliminating Portugal, Paraguay and Germany 1-0.
The final was decided by another one-goal encounter as Andres Iniesta found the back of the net at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg to defeat the Netherlands. A worthy star of the team of the tournament, he fired La Roja in front with four minutes of extra time remaining.
Iker Casillas (GK): The Real Madrid icon captained Spain to win the 2010 World Cup
Iker Casillas was a modern-day giant in goal as Spain headed for the 2010 World Cup, ending the South African edition in the team of the tournament after captaining La Roja to their debut FIFA title at the 17th Asking and their first final of the year.
His performances in South Africa also underlined Casilla’s case to be considered one of the best stoppers of all time. The Real Madrid icon kept clean sheets in all four of La Roja’s knockout games and was instrumental in defeating Paraguay after saving Oscar Cardozo’s penalty.
Maicon (RB): The Brazilian hero scored one of the goals of the tournament in South Africa
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is not something Brazil will have fond memories of after their quarter-final defeat by South Africa. But Maicon made the team of the tournament after a string of athletic, attack-minded displays at right-back with the record five-time champions.
Maicon also scored one of the goals of the tournament to help beat North Korea 2-1 in their Group G opener. The full-back lit up Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium with a gutsy shot to the touchline before smashing home a curling shot from a ridiculously tight angle.
Carles Puyol (CB): Barcelona icon, the talisman of Spain’s defense at the 2010 World Cup
Carles Puyol was the talisman of Spain’s defense as the star of the team of the tournament and the Barcelona icon won the World Cup in South Africa 2010. The big-haired defender was a rock in the center half and beat Germany in the semi-finals with a powerful header.
Sergio Ramos (CB): Team of the Tournament call followed an all-round World Cup show
Ramos played a key role in Spain’s success at the 2010 World Cup to earn his name in the team of the tournament. Del Bosque relied heavily on full-back versatility, and his presence at right-back provided balance in attack and vitality in central half alongside Puyol.
Philipp Lahm (LB): Became the youngest player to captain Germany at a World Cup
Philipp Lahm became the youngest player ever to captain Germany at the 2010 World Cup finals as Michael Ballack missed out with ankle ligament damage. The Bayern Munich icon played his role brilliantly and led the young Mannschaft team to the semi-finals.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (CM): The heart of the German engine room in 2010
Bastian Schweinsteiger may not have had Ballack sitting next to him in the German engine room, but the Bayern Munich hero proved to be the heart of their midfield. His robust defense set the tone for Joachim Low’s style of play, who returned breathtaking displays.
Xavi (CM): The Spanish legend is now back at Barcelona as manager of the Catalan club
Xavi and Iniesta formed one of the most dominant midfield partnerships at club level with Barcelona – where Xavi returned in 2021 as manager. They combined beautifully for Spain too, splitting countries with blissful ease in possession with magic in the boots.
Andres Iniesta (CAM): Barcelona icon as hero as Spain won the 2010 World Cup
Iniesta was by no means a winger, but at the 2010 World Cup he took on a wider role in Spain’s squad. This was mostly just on paper as the Barcelona icon would play on every blade of grass. He always sat inside as the driving force behind La Roja’s run.
Deservedly, it was Iniesta who got the goal that saw Spain win the World Cup for the first time. In 2010, he underlined his name in South Africa’s team of the tournament by bringing in Cesc Fabregas’ pass and drilling the ball past Maarten Stekelenburg.
Wesley Sneijder (CAM): 2010 World Cup finalist as joint top scorer of the tournament
Wesley Sneijder produced the best year of his career in 2010 to help the Netherlands to the World Cup final. He was also the talisman of Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan team, which won the Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia during the magnificent 2009/10 season.
The Dutchman then took his showcase form from the San Siro to the global stage in South Africa as the nation’s talisman. Sneijder won four Man of the Match awards at the World Cup and secured a place in his team of the tournament with a joint competition high of five goals.
Diego Forlan (ST): Uruguayan icon in Team of the Tournament as Ballon d’Or winner
Four players finished as the top scorer at the 2010 World Cup with five goals, but only three managed to surpass Thomas Muller’s team of the tournament for best young player. However, a place in the eleven was offered to the winner of the Ballon d’Or, Diego Forlan from Uruguay.
Forlan dealt with Jabulani’s unpredictable ball earlier than most, setting up three goals from outside. He also silenced the vuvuzelas against South Africa with a thirty-yard screamer and scored the goal of the tournament with a scissor kick against Germany.
David Villa (ST): World Cup winner in Team of the Tournament as joint top scorer
David Villa showed his true quality during the 2010 World Cup, securing a place in the team of the tournament as one of the top goalscorers. His haul also included scoring the winning tries in Spain’s last 16 wins over Portugal and Paraguay in the quarter-finals.
Spain would not have won their first World Cup title without the forward, who left Valencia for Barcelona for £34m before the World Cup. Villa got La Roja’s competition back on track by beating Honduras 2-0 and were always ready to attack.
In other words, the 23-year-old believes that leaving Tottenham has made him a “better player”, now he is trying to beat Conte.
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