Sunday, July 09, 2006

"And now, the end is near, and so we face the final curtain..."

Members of the media have until midnight to vote for Golden Ball winner, the best player of the tournament (in previous contests the deadline has been half-time of the final, helping Oliver Kahn grasp the Golden Ball last time more confidently than the second-half shot which he spilled into Ronaldo's grateful path...)

I think I'll wait until then before deciding between Fabio Cannavaro and Zinedine Zidane, but here - for what scintilla it's worth - is my team of the tournament (for the time being...):

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)

Gianluca Zambrotta (Italy)
Lilian Thuram (France)
Fabio Cannavaro (Italy)
Philipp Lahm (Germany)

Maxi Rodriguez (Argentina)
Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
Zinedine Zidane (France)
Maniche (Portugal)

Miroslav Klose (Germany)
Fernando Torres (Spain)

On the bench: Ricardo (Portugal), Rafael Marquez (Mexico), Willy Sagnol (France), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Juan Roman Riquelme (Argentina), Ze Roberto (Brazil), Thierry Henry (France).

Odd how poorly strikers have performed this tournament, with a relatively meagre haul of five looking enough to reward Klose with the Golden Boot. Perhaps less surprisingly, there has been a dearth of obvious young stand-out starlets, leading to Lukas Podolski winning the best young player prize from Gillette, despite looking very raw and ragged in Germany's first two games, opening his account against half an Ecuador team already 2-0 down, then adding two easy-ish strikes against Sweden when Klose had done all the hard work each time.

At least he proved dangerous enough times when it mattered, whereas Cristiano Ronaldo merely looked like he might just prove dangerous most of the time (when not taking a jog along his invisible springboard, of course...)

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