Aside from the insanity of the two missed PKs and the one re-called make in-between, the conversation turned to the following topic..."Who is the man of the tournament thus far?" We're down to four teams and unless someone who has played reasonably well to this point has an incredible "Final Four" then we probably already have our finalists. In my mind, the obvious candidates are (in no particular order):
- Mueller, GER - He won't get to play in the semi-final but he's been in the right place at the right time all tournament. He doesn't have the outrageous skill of a Ronaldo or a Messi but he always seems to be in the right place, make the right pass, strike the ball solidly, and make something happen in a way that neither Ronaldo nor Messi were able to do in this tournament.
- Sneijder, HOL - I can't say I love his game but it certainly has been effective for the Dutch thus far. Maybe the Special One has rubbed off on him but he seems to be more able to stay in control and keep his team together than in years past.
- Forlan, URU - I think I've enjoyed watching him play more than any other single player in the tournament. Uruguay haven't had a very difficult road to the semis but you can hardly blame that on Forlan. He has been everywhere showing great passing, strong set pieces, orchestration in the attacking half of midfield, and a vicious strike from distance. Tell me again why striker-shy ManYoo let this guy go.
- Villa, SPA - Spain hasn't been all that impressive really but they've won and he's scored the goals so hard not to put him in the conversation.
Why KPB? His has been by far the greatest impact in the tournament. His influence on this tournament is so great that he started making it in May. I'm referring, of course, to the tackle that crocked Michael Ballack and left Mueller and Ozil with the freedom to run wild in midfield. If you think that the confidence and flair that those two are playing with for Germany would have come out with Old Man Ballack getting starts for Lifetime Achievement as opposed to current skill/capability then you're crazy. Ballack's shadow would have been cast over the entire German side and I'm guessing they would have gone out early. With Ballack gone, Mueller and Ozil could take control and not worry about sharing the spaces in the center of the midfield with the now-plodding, toothless veteran.
Oh yeah, outside of his unintentional influence on the tournament, Boateng also scored a critical goal that helped Ghana into the Quarterfinals and provided a lot of the attacking impetus that the Black Stars were missing with Michael Essien unavailable due to injury/the Chelsea Curse.
So, for all those things, congratulate KPB for winning the 2010 Fantasy Blog Man of the Tournament Award (at least until someone does something not to be believed in the semi-finals and/or finals).