Starting with Nicolás Lodeiro back in December last year, Football Further selected 32 players to watch out for at the 2010 World Cup and then tracked their progress through the tournament via weekly scouting reports. Below is a full compilation of those reports, along with conclusions (and marks out of 10) on how each player performed.
Players with asterisks* were scouted by Football Further in the build-up to the World Cup.
South Africa: Katlego Mphela
- Group match 1 (South Africa 1-1 Mexico): Led the line with uncomplaining dedication, played a key part in the build-up to Siphiwe Tshabalala’s opening goal and hit the post late on with a rather tame left-footed effort.
- Group match 2 (South Africa 0-3 Uruguay): Forced to plough a lone furrow again, he managed to craft a few half-chances for himself but was let down by the quality of the service he received.
- Group match 3 (South Africa 2-1 France): Bowed out of the World Cup with a man-of-the-match performance. Bundled home South Africa’s second goal from Tsepo Masilela’s left-wing centre and could have had a hat-trick. Tested Hugo Lloris three times – twice with well-controlled efforts from distance – and also rattled the post with a side-footed shot from close range.
Overall: 6/10. Made to toil in the hosts’ opening two games, he confirmed his quality in the victory over France.
Mexico: Giovani dos Santos
- Group match 1 (South Africa 1-1 Mexico): Illuminated the first 45 minutes of the World Cup with his enterprising dribbling in central areas. Had less of an impact in the second half but drew fine save from Itumelung Khune with rasping shot.
- Group match 2 (Mexico 2-0 France): Not as influential as against South Africa, but posed a threat whenever he got the ball in the right positions. Looked to get in behind the France defence at every opportunity and sent a low shot a couple of yards wide after outmuscling Patrice Evra shortly before half-time.
- Group match 3 (Mexico 0-1 Uruguay): Often Mexico’s most advanced player, he could not capitalise on the space occasionally afforded him as El Tri were made to accept the unpalatable prospect of a last-16 meeting with Argentina.
- Round of 16 (Argentina 3-1 Mexico): Started on the right but was repeatedly unable to exploit promising situations purely due to the fact he always had to cut inside onto his left foot. Slipped cute pass through to Javier Hernandez in the game’s early stages but endured a largely frustrating evening.
Overall: 7/10. Failed to rediscover the form that made him the stand-out player of the tournament’s opening game, but he nonetheless remained a dangerous weapon for Mexico and was nominated for the Young Player of the Tournament award.
Uruguay: Nicolás Lodeiro*
- Group match 1 (Uruguay 0-0 France): Sent off just 18 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute, picking up yellow cards for dissent and an ugly lunge on Bacary Sagna. Follows Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane in getting sent off at his first World Cup.
- Group match 2 (South Africa 0-3 Uruguay): Suspended.
- Group match 3 (Mexico 0-1 Uruguay): Didn’t play.
- Round of 16 (Uruguay 2-1 South Korea): Replaced Alvaro Pereira with 16 minutes to play and the score 1-1, adopting position on the left flank. Nodded the ball to Luis Suárez for the match-winning goal and threaded a delicately weighted through-ball to Edinson Cavani with five minutes to play, but the Palermo man was unable to get a shot away.
- Quarter-final (Uruguay 1-1 Ghana; Uruguay won 4-2 on penalties): Replaced Álvaro Fernández in bold half-time substitution by Oscar Tabárez and occupied an advanced role in the inside-left position. Struggled to get involved in Uruguay’s approach play and often took up positions too close to the ball carrier. Set up Suárez for shot at goal in 70th minute with subtle, instinctive pass into the penalty area with his left foot. Needed no invitation to get stuck in but was bypassed by the play at times.
- Semi-final (Uruguay 2-3 Netherlands): Didn’t play.
- Third-place play-off (Uruguay 2-3 Germany): Didn’t play.
Overall: 5/10. Got off to the worst possible start, redeemed himself with solid but unspectacular performances against South Korea and Ghana but was ruled out of the final two games by injury. Didn’t really live up to the hype, despite glimpses of his promise.
France: Abou Diaby
- Group match 1 (Uruguay 0-0 France): One of precious few bright spots for France, Diaby surprisingly started in place of Florent Malouda and was his side’s best performer thanks to some purposeful runs from deep and astute usage of the ball. Positioning also allowed Jérémy Toulalan to get forward.
- Group match 2 (Mexico 2-0 France): Made presence felt in midfield battles and used the ball sensibly, but was hampered by a lack of movement ahead of him and there were none of the gambolling runs that characterised his performance against Uruguay.
- Group match 3 (South Africa 2-1 France): Started move that led to France’s consolation strike with cute backheel but it was the one bright moment in an otherwise sub-par performance. Clumsy in his tackling and sloppy in possession, he was also partly at fault for both South African goals. Outjumped by Bongani Khumalo for the first goal and miscued an attempted clearance straight to Masilela for the second.
Overall: 5/10. His performance against South Africa was as poor as his match against Uruguay was promising. Could still play an important role under Laurent Blanc.
Argentina: Nicolás Otamendi*
- Group match 1 (Argentina 1-0 Nigeria): Didn’t play.
- Group match 2 (Argentina 4-1 South Korea): Didn’t play.
- Group match 3 (Argentina 2-0 Greece): Started at right-back and got forward a lot more than might have been expected after Diego Maradona revealed in the build-up to the tournament that his full-backs would be instructed to remain in their own half. Put in some searching crosses and looked technically assured on the ball, but was occasionally caught out of position when Argentina’s attacks broke down.
- Round of 16 (Argentina 3-1 Mexico): Held onto his place at right-back and responded with a mature, watchful performance. Spent the majority of the game in his own half, but put in a superb cross from which Gonzalo Higuaín headed wide before half-time. Allowed Hernandez to get in behind him for Mexico’s goal. Stopped dos Santos in his tracks with marvellous full-bodied sliding tackle in the second half.
- Quarter-final (Germany 4-0 Argentina): Had torrid start to the game from which he never recovered, conceding free-kick that led to Thomas Müller’s third-minute opener with foul on Lukas Podolski and then picking up well-deserved booking for a crude, two-footed challenge on Arne Friedrich. Never looked comfortable against Podolski and gave the ball away with worrying frequency. All four German goals stemmed from his side of the pitch, although he had been replaced by Javier Pastore by the time Miroslav Klose netted Germany’s fourth.
Overall: 4/10. Proved his ability, particularly in attacking areas, against Greece and Mexico but his lack of experience at full-back was horribly exposed by Germany.
Nigeria: Lukman Haruna
- Group match 1 (Argentina 1-0 Nigeria): Played full 90 minutes in central midfield and wasn’t the only Nigerian who couldn’t get to grips with Lionel Messi. Booked for a foul on the Barcelona man in the 77th minute.
- Group match 2 (Nigeria 1-2 Greece): The chief spoiler alongside Dickson Etuhu in the Nigeria midfield, Haruna provided an energetic if occasionally ill-disciplined presence. Cleared a goalbound effort from Georgios Samaras off the line to preserve Nigeria’s lead but then deflected Dimitrios Salpingidis’s low shot past his own goalkeeper to inadvertently hand Greece the equaliser.
Group match 3 (Nigeria 2-2 South Korea): Didn’t play.
Overall: 4/10. Bypassed against Argentina, he was an industrious figure in the match with Greece but failed to distinguish himself.
South Korea: Ki Sung-Yong
- Group match 1 (South Korea 2-0 Greece): Put in an assured performance in front of the Korean defence and supplied the inswinging sixth-minute free-kick from which Lee Jung-soo put Huh Jung-moo’s team ahead.
- Group match 2 (Argentina 4-1 South Korea): Hit a well-struck shot narrowly over the crossbar from 30 yards shortly after South Korea fell 1-0 down but was overwhelmed defensively and went off at half-time.
Group match 3 (Nigeria 2-2 South Korea): A display more in keeping with his mature showing against Greece. Shot over the bar early in the game and set up Lee Jung-Soo’s 38th-minute goal with a measured free-kick to the back post from the left-hand side. Completed 80 percent of attempted passes.
- Round of 16 (Uruguay 2-1 South Korea): Ki’s economic passing in central areas provided the base for South Korea’s attacks in the second half as they sought to overturn a 1-0 half-time deficit. His set-piece radar was slightly off for much of the game – with many free-kicks over-hit from deep positions – but it was from his free-kick that Lee Chung-Yong headed the Asians level in the 68th minute. Taken off with five minutes left.
Overall: 7/10. His thoughtfulness in possession, refined technique and the fact he appeared to enjoy the full trust of his team-mates made him look much more accustomed to international football than his 21 years might suggest.
Greece: Sotiris Ninis*
- Group match 1 (South Korea 2-0 Greece): Didn’t play.
- Group match 2 (Nigeria 1-2 Greece): Replaced Theofanis Gekas in the 79th minute and kept things tidy on the left-hand side as Greece closed out the first World Cup victory in their history.
- Group match 3 (Argentina 2-0 Greece): Came on for Konstantinos Katsouranis after nine minutes of the second period but found opportunities to influence the game scarce. Committed slightly hotheaded foul on Messi in the closing stages.
Overall: 5/10. Didn’t get the chance to make an impact, but will surely be a key player under Otto Rehhagel’s successor Fernando Santos.
England: Joe Hart
- Group match 1 (England 1-1 United States): Didn’t play.
- Group match 2 (England 0-0 Algeria): Didn’t play.
- Group match 3 (England 1-0 Slovenia): Didn’t play.
- Round of 16 (Germany 4-1 England): Didn’t play.
Overall: 5/10. The miserable World Cup endured by Robert Green and David James’s rapidly advancing years meant that Hart emerged from the tournament with his reputation strongly enhanced. The future is his.
United States: Michael Bradley*
- Group match 1 (England 1-1 United States): Superbly patrolled the space in front of the American defence alongside Ricardo Clark and, after an early setback, kept Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard fairly quiet.
- Group match 2 (United States 2-2 Slovenia): Francisco Torres was Bradley’s new midfield partner and he played slightly deeper until the introduction of Maurice Edu for Torres at half-time allowed him to push forward. Scored a fine equaliser in the 82nd minute, converting Jozy Altidore’s knockdown with a crisp half-volley after bursting into the box in trademark fashion.
- Group match 3 (United States 1-0 Algeria): His well-timed forward breaks prompted some of the USA’s best opportunities, including the first-half effort from Clint Dempsey that was erroneously ruled out for offside and a superb chance that Jozy Altidore lashed off target. Tested Raid Ouheb M’bolhi with fizzing free-kick late in second period.
- Round of 16 (United States 1-2 Ghana): Hauled his side back into the game after they fell behind to Kevin-Prince Boateng’s fifth-minute strike and was unlucky to finish up on the losing side. Pushed forward in the second half, turning the USA’s 4-2-2-2 into a 4-1-3-2, and tested Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson with a low strike in the 76th minute. A real all-round midfielder, he would be even better with a dependable partner to cover for him.
Overall: 8/10. One of the best central midfielders at the tournament. His strike against Slovenia capped a fine American comeback and Borussia Mönchengladbach will likely face a struggle to keep him.
Algeria: Ryad Boudebouz
- Group match 1 (Algeria 0-1 Slovenia): Didn’t play.
- Group match 2 (England 0-0 Algeria): Starting on the right in support of Karim Matmour, the 20-year-old played with a vim and a composure that belied the fact he had just 45 minutes of international experience behind him when he stepped onto the pitch. Gave Ashley Cole the odd awkward moment before being taken off in the 74th minute.
- Group match 3 (United States 1-0 Algeria): Didn’t play.
Overall: 6/10. Did enough against England to suggest that he could have a long and successful future at this level.
Slovenia: Rene Krhin*
- Group match 1 (Algeria 0-1 Slovenia): Didn’t play.
- Group match 2 (United States 2-2 Slovenia): Didn’t play.
- Group match 3 (England 1-0 Slovenia): Didn’t play.
Overall: 5/10. Curious that the Inter youngster didn’t make it onto the pitch for a single minute, but he is an inexperienced player and Slovenia’s last two matches were very tense affairs.
Germany: Sami Khedira*
- Group match 1 (Germany 4-0 Australia): Controlled the centre of midfield with Schweinsteiger and moved the ball forward intelligently to allow Mesut Özil to work his magic.
- Group match 2 (Germany 0-1 Serbia): Playing slightly in advance of Schweinsteiger, Khedira looked to get forward as much as possible in the first half and came close to an equaliser with a thumping half-volley that cannoned against the Serbian crossbar. The dismissal of Klose forced him to play more defensively in the second half and he appeared to run out of juice towards the end of the game.
- Group match 3 (Germany 1-0 Ghana): Sought once again to occupy the space ahead of Schweinsteiger and attack the penalty area, which meant that he was often overlooked in Germany’s build-up play (he attempted 51 passes to Schweinsteiger’s 85). Headed over from corner in 36th minute. Guarded possession well as Germany ran down the clock.
- Round of 16 (Germany 4-1 England): An unfailingly steady presence in central midfield, who was tidy and efficient throughout. Blazed over from distance in the 17th minute after England’s defenders backed off and almost set up Müller with a slightly overcooked through-ball early in the second half.
- Quarter-final (Germany 4-0 Argentina): Played deeper than in Germany’s early matches, which notably allowed Schweinsteiger to exploit the huge gaps in the Argentine defence in the second half. Disciplined, positive, combative and cool in possession. One of the best holding midfielders in the tournament.
- Semi-final (Germany 0-1 Spain): His most arduous assignment of the competition. Forced back by Spain’s passing carousel, Khedira put in a tireless defensive shift and made some important interceptions. Won plenty of important aerial duels and kept the ball well but had very few opportunities to attack. Replaced by Mario Gómez in the 80th minute.
- Third-place play-off (Uruguay 2-3 Germany): Rounded off a superb tournament in fitting style by sharply heading in the winning goal in the 82nd minute of the third-place match after Uruguay failed to clear a right-wing corner. With the shackles off he was able to put in his most attacking performance of the competition, linking the play astutely and showing off some wonderful touches.
Overall: 9/10. A superb tournament. He and Schweinsteiger were the stand-out central midfield pairing at the World Cup and Real Madrid are reportedly on his case already.
Australia: Mark Bresciano
- Group match 1 (Germany 4-0 Australia): Didn’t play.
- Group match 2 (Australia 1-1 Ghana): Drafted into the starting XI on the left of midfield, he set up Brett Holman’s opening goal in the 11th minute with a free-kick that Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson spilled. Replaced by Scott Chipperfield in the 66th minute.
- Group match 3 (Australia 2-1 Serbia): His team’s best attacking player for much of the match, although he occasionally allowed Miloš Krasić to go one-and-one against Australia left-back David Carney. Probed constantly from the left flank, sending a number of measured centres into the penalty area and twice working Vladimir Stojković from distance. Replaced, again, by Chipperfield in the 66th minute.
Overall: 6/10. Was decisive in his two appearances and would probably have also had something to say had he been selected for the defeat against Germany from which Australia never recovered. Has since joined Lazio.
Serbia: Aleksandar Kolarov*
- Group match 1 (Serbia 0-1 Ghana): Unable to get forward as much as he would have liked but came close to breaking the deadlock in the first half with a well-struck free-kick that flashed narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
- Group match 2 (Germany 0-1 Serbia): Looked to attack more than against Ghana but his decision-making was occasionally poor and he wasted a good chance to seal victory when he blazed wide from a good position late on. Struggled to get on top of the lively Müller but did go close with a free-kick in the first half.
- Group match 3 (Australia 2-1 Serbia): Didn’t play.
Overall: 4/10. A big disappointment. Two nice free-kicks aside, he showed none of the attacking intent on which he has built his reputation and then suffered the ignominy of being benched for Serbia’s last game.
Ghana: Dominic Adiyiah
- Group match 1 (Serbia 0-1 Ghana): Didn’t play.
- Group match 2 (Australia 1-1 Ghana): Didn’t play.
- Group match 3 (Germany 1-0 Ghana): Didn’t play.
- Round of 16 (United States 1-2 Ghana): Didn’t play.
- Quarter-final (Uruguay 1-1 Ghana; Uruguay won 4-2 on penalties): Made his World Cup debut as an 88th-minute substitute for Sulley Muntari. Got involved in the build-up play on both flanks, but spent most of his time on the left. Demonstrated an assured touch and would have gone down in tournament history had his brave close-range header not been batted off the line by Suárez in stoppage time of extra time. Volunteered to take a penalty in the shoot-out, only to see his composed spot-kick brilliantly palmed away by Fernando Muslera.
Overall: 5/10. Would now be one of the most famous men in Africa had it not been for Suárez’s ‘Hand of God’ Mk II. Currently being linked with a loan move to Sunderland.
Netherlands: Gregory van der Wiel*
- Group match 1 (Netherlands 2-0 Denmark): Attacked boldly throughout the first half with a succession of enterprising forays, but played more conservatively once Holland had taken the lead early in the second period.
- Group match 2 (Netherlands 1-0 Japan): Prevented from getting forward by Japan’s robust shape and the frequent offensive forays of Japan’s left-sided attacker Yoshito Okubo. Booked in the 36th minute after charging across the pitch to foul Daisuke Matsui.
- Group match 3 (Netherlands 2-1 Cameroon): Didn’t play.
- Round of 16 (Netherlands 2-1 Slovakia): Largely untroubled, despite having to play behind a much less defensive right-sided midfielder after Arjen Robben came into the team and forced Dirk Kuyt to shift to the left. Almost paid the price for a lack of concentration late in the game when he failed to step up with the rest of the defence and presented Robert Vittek with a shooting opportunity that, fortunately for the Ajax right-back, was spurned.
- Quarter-final (Netherlands 2-1 Brazil): Another awful lapse in concentration allowed Brazil to take a fifth-minute lead, as Robinho darted infield from the Brazilian left, exploiting the acres of space behind the Dutch defence, before firing past Maarten Stekelenburg. That it was Arjen Robben, and not van der Wiel, haring back in a vain attempt to catch up with Robinho told its own story. Beaten with alarming regularity by Robinho in the first half, van der Wiel didn’t look settled until Holland equalised and only then began to advance into Brazilian territory. Booked early in second half, ruling him out of semi-final. Yet to shine.
- Semi-final (Uruguay 2-3 Netherlands): Suspended.
- Final (Netherlands 0-1 Spain): Andrés Iniesta’s tendency to tuck in on the Spanish left meant van der Wiel often had nobody to pick up but he failed to exploit the space ahead of him until a buccaneering run down the right flank early in the second half followed by a fine low cross that failed to find a team-mate. Applied himself well defensively but was booked for tired trip on Iniesta in second period of extra time.
Overall: 6/10. One of the tournament’s best right-backs, but still far from the marauding force he is at Ajax. Occasionally caught out of position as well, but time is on his side.
Denmark: Simon Kjær*
- Group match 1 (Netherlands 2-0 Denmark): Caught flat-footed for both of the Netherlands’ goals. Unable to react quickly enough when Simon Poulsen’s header flicked off Daniel Agger for an own goal and then allowed Dirk Kuyt to dart in ahead of him for the second goal after Eljero Elia’s shot bounced back off the post.
- Group match 2 (Denmark 2-1 Cameroon): Much improved. Powerless to prevent Cameroon’s opening goal and set up Denmark’s equaliser with fine, raking 70-yard pass to Dennis Rommedahl. Booked for foul on Vincent Aboubakar in 87th minute, ruling him out of final group game.
- Group match 3 (Denmark 1-3 Japan): Suspended.
Overall: 6/10. Made up for a lethargic performance against the Dutch with a match-winning turn in the defeat of Cameroon and Denmark badly missed him against Japan. Will play at Wolfsburg next season.
Japan: Keisuke Honda*
- Group match 1 (Japan 1-0 Cameroon): Started in a central attacking role and coolly dispatched the winning goal in the 39th minute, cushioning a deep cross at the back post and calmly placing the ball past Souleymanou Hamidou in the Cameroon goal.
- Group match 2 (Netherlands 1-0 Japan): The first line of Japan’s defence, Honda harried the Dutch centre-backs and did a good job of harassing Mark van Bommel but was rarely decisive in an attacking capacity, despite some nice touches.
- Group match 3 (Denmark 1-3 Japan): A superb, match-winning performance that instantly turned him into one of the stars of the tournament. Became the first player to really harness the potential of the much-criticised Jabulani ball with a dipping free-kick from 35 yards out wide on the right that plunged past Thomas Sorensen into the bottom-left corner in the 17th minute. A threat throughout, he unselfishly teed up Japan’s third goal for Shinji Okazaki after a sublime Cruyff turn on the edge of the Danish area.
- Round of 16 (Paraguay 0-0 Japan; Paraguay won 5-3 on penalties): Unfortunate to exit the competition before the last eight, especially after converting pressure penalty in shootout that would have eliminated Japan had he missed it. Dropping deep from his starting position at the centre of the Japan attack, Honda flashed first-time effort narrowly off-target shortly before half-time and demonstrated his quality with skilful reverse pass down the inside-right channel to Shinji Okazaki in the 72nd minute. Orchestrated Japan’s attacks throughout, but his one free-kick of note was pushed away by Justo Villar early in extra time.
Overall: 8/10. A star is born. His show-stopping game against Denmark thrust him into the spotlight and proved that he is a player of real class. Linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs, he may not stay at CSKA Moscow for long.
Cameroon: Nicolas N’Koulou*
- Group match 1 (Japan 1-0 Cameroon): Picked ahead of Stéphane Mbia (who played at right-back) to partner Sébastien Bassong in central defence, he was one of four Cameroon defenders caught beneath the ball when Honda opened the scoring.
- Group match 2 (Denmark 2-1 Cameroon): Positioning was often poor and he was frequently exposed. Cameroon would surely have been stronger at the back with Mbia in central defence in his place.
- Group match 3 (Netherlands 2-1 Cameroon): Not at fault for the Netherlands’ opening goal, he was booked midway through the first half and replaced by veteran Rigobert Song in the 73rd minute.
Overall: 4/10. Clearly benefited from the faith of Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen, but failed to convince in central defence after a season in which he flitted in and out of the Monaco first XI.
Italy: Antonio Di Natale*
- Group match 1 (Italy 1-1 Paraguay): Replaced Alberto Gilardino with 18 minutes remaining. Gave Italy a more coherent shape but failed to make much of an impact and was outshone by Simone Pepe, who occupied Di Natale’s preferred left-flank role.
- Group match 2 (Italy 1-1 New Zealand): Came on for Pepe at half-time and played on the left. Drew a save from New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston with a well-struck half-volley in the 49th minute but his influence waned as Italy’s approach play became more direct.
- Group match 3 (Italy 2-3 Slovakia): Played from the left in the first half but moved infield in support of Vincenzo Iaquinta when Fabio Quagliarella came on at half-time. Went close on a number of occasions, sending a dipping volley narrowly over in the opening seconds, dragging a shot badly wide from Christian Maggio’s through-ball in the 56th minute and then curling a shot into the arms of Ján Mucha. Scored his first and likely last World Cup goal in the 81st minute when he tucked the ball into an empty net after Quagliarella’s shot had been pushed away by Mucha.
Overall: 4/10. The smile on his face after he netted against Slovakia suggested he had got what he came to South Africa for. Indistinguished, he may not play for his country again.
Paraguay: Lucas Barrios*
- Group match 1 (Italy 1-1 Paraguay): Playing with Borussia Dortmund team-mate Nelson Haedo Valdez at the tip of the Paraguayan attack, he was unable to assert himself. Gave way to Oscar Cardozo with 14 minutes left.
- Group match 2 (Paraguay 2-0 Slovakia): Looked much happier as part of a three-man attack alongside Valdez and Roque Santa Cruz. Dropped deep intelligently and set up the opening goal for Enrique Vera with a deft reverse pass.
- Group match 3 (Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand): Started on the bench and replaced Cardozo in the 66th minute. Denied a tap-in by the smart reactions of Paston 10 minutes after coming on.
- Round of 16 (Paraguay 0-0 Japan; Paraguay won 5-3 on penalties): Lit up dour first half with delightful turn and shot, beautifully dragging the ball away from a defender and then stabbing the ball at Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima. Found the target again with a header in the first half of extra time. Nervelessly slotted his penalty – Paraguay’s second – into the bottom-right corner.
- Quarter-final (Paraguay 0-1 Spain): Replaced Victor Cáceres in the 84th minute, shortly after Paraguay fell behind. Source of his side’s one late chance, with rasping right-foot shot that Iker Casillas spilled into the path of Roque Santa Cruz, whose effort was superbly blocked by the Spanish goalkeeper.
Overall: 5/10. Lively and influential when given the opportunity, particularly when allowed to play slightly deeper, but lack of goals harmed his team.
New Zealand: Chris Wood
- Group match 1 (New Zealand 1-1 Slovakia): Came on with 18 minutes to play. The 18-year-old West Bromwich Albion striker did not contribute a great deal, but is unlikely to forget being on the pitch for Winston Reid’s stoppage-time equaliser.
- Group match 2 (Italy 1-1 New Zealand): Entered the fray in place of Rory Fallon in the 63rd minute and almost wrote his name into World Cup history after turning Fabio Cannavaro and flashing a low, left-footed shot inches wide of the right-hand post late on.
- Group match 3 (Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand): Another late substitute appearance, replacing Fallon in the 69th minute.
Overall: 6/10. Looked unfazed whenever he came on and the assured nature of his performance against Italy augurs well for both the All Whites and West Brom.
Slovakia: Miroslav Stoch*
- Group match 1 (New Zealand 1-1 Slovakia): Stoch, who recently joined Fenerbahce from Chelsea, replaced Robert Vittek in the 84th minute.
- Group match 2 (Paraguay 2-0 Slovakia): Came on in the 83rd minute, just in time for the Cristian Riveros goal that sealed Paraguay’s victory.
- Group match 3 (Italy 2-3 Slovakia): Started wide on the right and, after losing his early battles with Domenico Criscito, produced a fine performance. Alert and enterprising in possession, he came close to scoring in the 69th minute when he shot wide from the edge of the box after dancing past Cannavaro. Took almost all of his side’s set-pieces and was calm on the ball late on despite the slenderness of Slovakia’s unexpected lead.
- Round of 16 (Netherlands 2-1 Slovakia): Held onto his starting berth and continued to preside over set-piece duties, but frequently ran into fellow youngster Vladimir Weiss, who kept straying into Stoch’s territory from a central starting position. Produced Slovakia’s first shot on target in the 67th minute after darting in from the left flank and dispatching a sharp shot that Maarten Stekelenburg palmed over.
Overall: 7/10. The immediate impact he had when drafted into the team against Italy made you wonder why he hadn’t been called upon sooner. Joined Fenerbahçe in a €5.5 million deal on the eve of the tournament.
Brazil: Michel Bastos*
- Group match 1 (Brazil 2-1 North Korea): Grew into the game after a slightly nervous start and gradually found his shooting range too. Flashed a free-kick wide early in the second half and then fired in a rising drive that Ri Myong-Guk had to punch away.
- Group match 2 (Brazil 3-1 Ivory Coast): Combative and occasionally rash, Bastos looked like he was still finding his feet and miscontrolled a number of balls in promising positions on the left flank.
- Group match 3 (Brazil 0-0 Portugal): If there is a weak link in this Brazil team, it is Bastos. Erratic defensively and wasteful going forward, he looks like a player short of faith in his ability to perform the tasks demanded of him.
- Round of 16 (Brazil 3-0 Chile): Committed fewer errors than in his previous matches and contributed more in an attacking capacity. Dragged shot off-target in first half and picked out Kaká with an intelligent cutback in the 69th minute, only for his team-mate to shoot over. Not at his best yet though.
- Quarter-final (Netherlands 2-1 Brazil): A humiliating end to a disappointing tournament. Bastos was always going to have his work cut out against Robben, but he looked terrified every time the Dutchman came near him and went through the back of him three times before being cautioned in the 37th minute. Extremely fortunate to escape a sending off after bringing Robben down again with another desperate challenge early in the second period, and from the resulting free-kick the Netherlands equalised. Replaced by Gilberto in the 62nd minute, his misery complete.
Overall: 4/10. Never looked at ease at left-back and the frailty of his performance against the Netherlands sowed the seeds of Brazil’s undoing. Lack of up-and-coming competition means he may get another chance.
North Korea: Jong Tae-Se
- Group match 1 (Brazil 2-1 North Korea): Blubbed through the national anthem but then put in a first-rate performance. Led the North Korean attack bravely throughout, proving a handful for both Lúcio and Juan, and set up Ji Yun-Nam’s goal with a headed knockdown.
- Group match 2 (North Korea 0-7 Portugal): Showed he is not short of confidence by blasting a 45-yard free-kick over the Portugal crossbar in the early stages, but was much less involved than he was against Brazil.
- Group match 3 (North Korea 0-3 Ivory Coast): With North Korea playing much deeper and more defensively, Jong was left even more isolated than against Portugal. Worked Boubacar Barry from 25 yards early on but had to wait until the 81st minute for his next sight of goal and fluffed his lines when the chance arrived.
Overall: 6/10. Faded quite badly after a terrific showing against Brazil, but his tears and his tenacity made him one of the faces of the group phase. Joined 2. Bundesliga club Bochum after the tournament.
Ivory Coast: Gervinho*
- Group match 1 (Ivory Coast 0-0 Portugal): Started on the right but quickly switched to the left. Ivory Coast’s most dangerous player over the duration of the match, regularly leading his side deep into Portugal territory with his purposeful running.
- Group match 2 (Brazil 3-1 Ivory Coast): Surprisingly began the game on the bench but came on at the interval and instantly injected some zip into his side’s play. It was his driving run into the Brazilian defensive third that led to Didier Drogba’s consolation goal in the 79th minute.
- Group match 3 (North Korea 0-3 Ivory Coast): Started wide on the left and was heavily involved early on, sliding a cross across the face of goal, testing the goalkeeper with a turn and shot from the edge of the area and then grazing the left-hand post with an instinctive toe-poke. Left the flank in the second half and was replaced by Salomon Kalou in the 64th minute.
Overall: 7/10. Arguably Ivory Coast’s most consistently threatening forward player, despite his bizarre relegation to the bench for the crucial game with Brazil. Liverpool rumoured to be preparing €12 million bid.
Portugal: Fábio Coentrão*
- Group match 1 (Ivory Coast 0-0 Portugal): Had to rein in his natural attacking instincts and barely saw the ball in the opposition’s defensive third. Coped manfully with the powerful Aruna Dindane though and did not shirk any physical challenges.
- Group match 2 (North Korea 0-7 Portugal): A contender for the most outstanding performance by a left-back at the World Cup to date. Cristiano Ronaldo’s penchant for cutting in from the left gave Coentrão plenty of room to exploit and he put in a succession of fine crosses including an assist for Hugo Almeida in the 56th minute.
- Group match 3 (Brazil 0-0 Portugal): Another assured showing from one of the best players of the group phase. Solid defensively, willing in attack and bold in his passing, he was up against two of the world’s best right-sided players in Maicon and Dani Alves and he didn’t flinch once.
- Round of 16 (Spain 1-0 Portugal): Found himself up against Fernando Torres but barely gave the Liverpool man a kick and was one of Portugal’s most potent attacking weapons in the first half, setting up Tiago for a shot at goal after weaving his way into the Spanish half and then teeing up the same player for a header with a delicate left-wing cross. Forced to retreat by Spain’s mounting superiority in the second period, he continued to produce crucial interventions and leaves the tournament with his reputation immeasurably enhanced.
Overall: 9/10. There was not a better left-back at the World Cup. Great going forward but tremendously disciplined in his defensive duties as well, particularly for a recently converted winger.
Spain: Jesús Navas*
- Group match 1 (Spain 0-1 Switzerland): Brought on shortly after Switzerland scored and immediately energised Spain’s approach play with his direct running on the right flank. Bent a sweet half-volley narrowly wide of the left-hand post but his crossing was disappointing.
- Group match 2 (Spain 2-0 Honduras): Started wide on the right in an asymmetrical 4-2-3-1 and mixed up his delivery a bit more than he had against Switzerland. Set up David Villa’s second goal with well-disguised cutback and also won penalty that should have given Villa his hat-trick.
- Group match 3 (Spain 2-1 Chile): Didn’t play.
- Round of 16 (Spain 1-0 Portugal): Didn’t play.
- Quarter-final (Paraguay 0-1 Spain): Didn’t play.
- Semi-final (Germany 0-1 Spain): Didn’t play.
- Final (Netherlands 0-1 Spain): Replaced Pedro with half an hour to play and instantly brought some much-needed enterprise and width to Spain’s approach play with his trickery and directness. Had shot deflected into side netting by Giovanni van Bronckhorst in first half of extra time and it was his superb slaloming run down the right flank that laid the foundations for Iniesta’s 116th-minute winner.
Overall: 7/10. Appeared to have fallen out of favour after spending four straight matches on the bench but applied a golden finish to his first World Cup with a match-changing contribution in the final.
Switzerland: Xherdan Shaqiri
- Group match 1 (Spain 0-1 Switzerland): Didn’t play.
- Group match 2 (Switzerland 0-1 Chile): Didn’t play.
- Group match 3 (Switzerland 0-0 Honduras): The strapping teenager made his World Cup debut as a 78th-minute replacement for Benjamin Huggel and threw himself into his side’s vain search for victory with some crunching challenges and an effort on goal deep into stoppage time that failed to find the target.
Overall: 5/10. Made to wait for his World Cup bow but put enough into the 12 minutes he spent on the pitch against Honduras to suggest he could become an important player for La Nati.
Honduras: Georgie Welcome
- Group match 1 (Honduras 0-1 Chile): Came on with half an hour to play and had to wait until the final minute for his first sight of goal, slicing a left-footed shot well over the bar from 20 yards.
- Group match 2 (Spain 2-0 Honduras): Introduced at half-time in place of Roger Espinoza and put himself about with admirable gusto. Off target with late header.
- Group match 3 (Switzerland 0-0 Honduras): Replaced Jerry Palacios with 12 minutes remaining. Had goal ruled out for offside in 88th minute and then saw injury-time effort deflected over when he opted to shoot despite having team-mates in better positions.
Overall: 5/10. Not many players who ply their trade in the Honduran second division have graced a World Cup finals and, despite his lack of success in front of goal, he did not look out of place.
Chile: Matías Fernández*
- Group match 1 (Honduras 0-1 Chile): Started on the left side of midfield in a loose-limbed 4-3-3 and saw plenty of the ball, albeit in areas where he was not always able to hurt Honduras. Many of Chile’s best chances stemmed from his excellent delivery at corners and free-kicks.
- Group match 2 (Switzerland 0-1 Chile): Restored to his typical role as the playmaker in a 3-3-1-3, Fernández was once again the source of a number of dangerous set-pieces but was unfairly booked after being fouled by Gokhan Inler in the 60th minute and will now miss Chile’s final group game. Replaced in the 65th minute by Esteban Paredes, who scored the winning goal.
- Group match 3 (Spain 2-1 Chile): Suspended.
- Round of 16 (Brazil 3-0 Chile): Didn’t play.
Overall: 5/10. A curious tournament. Influential without ever really shining in Chile’s first two matches, he was suspended for the match with Spain and then unceremoniously dropped against Brazil. Given his qualities, it was something of a let-down.
The following players were scouted by Football Further before the tournament but not called up by their national sides: Jonathan dos Santos (Mexico), Moussa Sissoko (France), Jack Wilshere (England), Tommy Oar (Australia).