On the eve of the World Cup beginning in Brazil, we take a look back at the previous decade and how the big stage influenced the stars of the decade. Winning the World Cup is the most coveted trophy of every stars career. Having a good or bad tournament can make or break a players career. Ronaldinho saw his career enter a steep decline following the World Cup in Germany in 2006, and was subsequently sold by Barcelona to A.C. Milan and eventually dropped for the 2010 World Cup. With the chance to make their mark in history beginning tomorrow, we take a look back at players who left their mark in the previous decade. Our two teams are based off of opinion, and may include discrepancies with outside opinion. We welcome comments and questions regarding the teams.
Our first team, Alec's team is a 4-3-3
Buffon in goal,
Defense featuring Roberto Carlos, Lillian Thuram, Paolo Maldini, and Fabio Cannavaro.
Midfield holds Kaka, Ronaldinho, and Zinedine Zidane.
Forwards are Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry.
My team features slightly different players, a 4-4-2, although it would be more like a 4-2-4. This team would never work in real life because there is no holding midfielder, and the balance would be horrible. The team would be exposed to numerous counter attacks throughout a 90 minute game, however on the thought of pure talent, I have compiled my best 11.
In goal, Gianluigi Buffon- Though a bit older now, Buffon is still a stud, even to this day. In 2006, Buffon was near perfection for the entire World Cup in helping Italy to winning the tournament. He also has helped Juventus to numerous trophies throughout the decade, as well as the Champions League final in 2003, which they lost on penalties to Milan, after a scoreless 120 minutes. Buffon showed his loyalty to the Old Lady when he stayed with Juventus despite the scandal which rocked the club mid decade, and sent Juve to the second tier in Italy. A model professional for his entire career, Buffon earns the gloves over some very worthy contestants.
Left Back-Roberto Carlos- the Brazilian was a part of the World Cup winning team in 2002, playing a key role in the victory. He was also a part of the Champions League winning team at Real Madrid when he played the key ball to Zinedine Zidane who volleyed home a left footed volley. Carlos is known for an incredible power shot, ask Fabian Barthez, and an unparalleled ability to get forward for a left back. Carlos' one moment of shame perhaps came at the 2006 World Cup when he left his mark Thierry Henry unmarked during a free kick in order to tie his shoe. Henry went on to score the only goal of the game on the play, and Roberto Carlos accepted responsibility for the exit.
Center Back- Fabio Cannavaro- The only defender to win the Fifa World Player of The Year trophy of the decade, he did so in 2006 when he guided Italy to their World Cup triumph as captain of the Azzuri. He was also a part of the Juventus side which won back to back Scudetto titles in 2005 and 2006, along with Buffon, however they were both revoked. Following the scandal which rocked the club, Cannavaro left Juventus and continued his club success with Real Madrid. He retired internationally after the 2010 World Cup, and despite being able to carry Italy out of the group stage, he was still one of the top defenders of the decade, and all time.
Paolo Maldini- Partnering Cannavaro is another Italian, Paolo Maldini. Maldini was a long time skipper for the Milan side which was so successful. Despite most of his success coming during the 80's and 90's, particularly individually, he was also very successful during the 2000's. He won the Champions League with Milan in both 2003, and 2007, and scored the opening goal in the 2005 final, which Milan lost on penalties. He may actually want to forget that goal in 2005, and every thing about the game, as Milan blew a 3-0 lead to lose to Liverpool. Despite the defeat, Maldini still remains as one of the greatest defenders of the decade, and of all time.
Right Back- Cafu- Almost any list of the greatest players will have Cafu at right back. Cafu won the World Cup twice with Brazil captaining the side in 2002 in japan/Korea and won a slew of individual honors as well as club honors. He won the champions league with milan in 2007, as well Z the club World Cup. He was named to the world 11 in 2005, as well as the uefa 11 in 04 and 05. Cafu retired in 2008, with milan and retired with brazil after the World Cup in 2006. He won 142 caps for his country which is a record which still stands today.
Zinedine Zidane considered by many to be the greatest player of all-time is included in almost any list as well. Though the last image he gave us was his headbutt in 2006, he graced the field for over a decade with an untouchable flair. During this time he won three Fifa World Player of The Year Awards, as well as numerous team awards. He won the World Cup with France in 1998, and the Champions League in 2002 with Real Madrid. He also won la liga with the Spanish side before retiring following the World Cup in 2006. Though he gave an ugly last image, he played one of the most beautiful games you will ever see.
Ronaldinho terrorized defenders and defenses everywhere from 2002 until 2006. He was untouchable and destroyed defenses with his tricks and ability. He won the World Cup with brazil in 2002, though four years later when it was marked to be his tournament in Germany he underperformed and underwhelmed and following the World Cup in 2006 he was never the same player. Despite his failure to ever regain his form following the 2006 World Cup, he still won two Fifa World Player of The Year awards at Barcelona as well as the Champions League and two La Liga trophies. He also won the Scudetto while at Milan. He's a fan favorite and loved by everyone; his smile can be recognized around, as can his skill.
Cristiano Ronaldo won everything at Manchester United before transferring to Real Madrid and becoming the world's most expensive player. He won the player of the year award in 2008 and the champions league as well. During that season he scored 42 goals from midfield an incredible statistic. Able to take on any man as well as shoot with both feet Ronaldo is a threat from anywhere. He's also deadly at set pieces and even better in the air. He is the perfect all-around player who can score with any part of his body.
Ronaldo is another one of the players to win three FIFA Player of the Year Awards in his career. He took over the 2002 World Cup for Brazil and won them the tournament scoring seven goals on his way. He holds the record for most goals scored at the World Cup with 15 goals, a record which may be broken this summer by Miroslav Klose. He battled through thyroid issues for his entire career which made him gain weight and struggle through injuries and for fitness. Despite these issues he is still considered one of the greatest finishers of all time.
Thierry Henry-the greatest player to ever play in the EPL, coming from a Manchester United fan too. He tortured defenses was a huge part of Arsenal team during their invincibles season. He won the PFA player of year award two seasons in a row and won numerous individual and team awards while at Arsenal. The only reason why he was unlucky to win the FIFA player of the year award was due to the fact that Ronaldinho was out of this world during the time. Henry in my opinion was on par with Ronaldinho during that time and should have won the most prestigious award at least once. Nevertheless he is still considered to be one of the greatest of all time.
Kaka- my favorite player of all-time perhaps I put him in this list for more sentimental reasons as many would say Lionel Messi should deserve the spot that he got. But Messi was not at the peak of his powers until about 2010 which is after this list ranges from. Kaka was around for more of the decade the Messi was and won more honors during it. They each won one Player of the Year Award so that cancels out. At the end of the day, either player would work as they are both incredible players, however I chose kaka, and will stick by him. Messi will be on any team from after this period and any team, however this team is from 2000-2009. During this period Kaka one the champions league with Milan as well as the World Cup with Brazil. He won numerous Serie A with Milan as well. He became the world's most expensive player when he transferred to Real Madrid in 2009 though that record was broken shortly after when Real Madrid bought Cristiano Ronaldo. He was unstoppable from 2004-2008. When he claimed the player of the year and champions league, scoring goals with both feet, inside outside the box. He could take players on as well as shoot from anywhere. He was the perfect attacking midfielder.
Subs/Narrow misses- Iker Casillas, Oliver Kahn, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Pavel Nedved, Luis Figo, Lionel Messi (though he really isn't a miss, I just couldn't have a list without Kaka) Andriy Shevchenko, Rivaldo, Hernan Crespo, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Francesco Totti, Edgar Davids, Michael Ballack, Alessandro Del PieroWayne Rooney, Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Anyone we left out, tell us in the comments section