Manuel Neuer

Best goal: Van Bronckhorst’s, no question. Where the ball ended up was the only place it could have gone while still eluding the keeper. About as close to a perfect strike as I’ve ever seen. Watch him repeat it right-footed. Best player: David Villa. Forlan gets honorable mention, of course, but Villa somehow looks dangerous every time he gets the ball. Yes, he gets great service from the Spanish midfield, but with Torres slumping, he’s had to do it without a threatening attacking partner. Best goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer.

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Best team: Germany. Consistently dynamic, the German team was dazzling from start to finish. Beckenbauer wasn’t exaggerating when he said that the performance against Argentina was perhaps the best game ever by a German team. The maturity shown by the German side was even more impressive when one considers the team’s youth: Manuel Neuer is 24 years old, Mesut Ozil is 21, Bastian Schweinsteiger – that veteran – is 25. That’s just amazing. Generous, hardworking and even humble, the Germans were the opposite of the odious French or the smug Argentines.

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