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Shooting Stars Disappoint at World Cup

Posted July. 05, 2010 12:42,   


Argentine star striker Lionel Messi attracted more attention than any other player in this year’s South Africa World Cup.

Though the FC Barcelona star scored 34 goals in the Primera Liga of Spain last season, he fell far short of meeting expectations in South Africa as Argentina crashed out of the tournament.

He did not score but spearheaded the Argentine offense through outstanding individual skills and passes in the group stage. He had four assists in showing potential to become the first scoreless player to win MVP honors.

That all ended after Argentina’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to Germany in the quarterfinals Saturday. Messi was a non-factor in the game though he had seven of his 30 combined shots in the tournament against Germany.

Wayne Rooney of England, who finished second in scoring in the English Premier League last season, suffered a similar fate. The Manchester United striker was considered the second-most likely candidate to win Golden Boot honors at the World Cup according to a survey of AIPS, an international association of sports reporters.

Rooney, however, did not even have an assist let alone a goal.

For Brazil, Kaka was also a leading candidate to claim the honor of the tournament’s leading scorer. The Real Madrid midfielder was a huge disappointment, however, launching just eight shots in four games and no goals.

Also going goalless were Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast, the top scorer in the English Premier League for Chelsea; Antonio di Natale of Italy, who led Serie A in scoring with Udinese; and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, Kaka’s teammate at Real Madrid.

For Spain, David Villa (FC Barcelona) might turn out to be his team’s savior. He leads the tournament in scoring with five goals and has scored in all four of Spain’s games, including the score which beat Paraguay in the quarterfinals.

Villa is just two goals away from breaking the Spanish record for most A-match goals held by Raul Gonzales (44 goals in 102 matches). Villa, however, has 43 goals in just 63 games.

Scoring four for Spain’s Euro 2008-winning team, Villa has firmly consolidated his reputation as the top scorer for his team and the tournament.

For the Netherlands, Wesley Sneijder is helping his country remove the moniker of underachiever. His free kick led to the tying goal against Brazil in the quarterfinal, and despite being the shortest man on the field, his header gave the Oranje the lead it would not relinquish.

The Inter Milan star has scored four goals in the tournament in leading the Dutch to the semifinals for the first time since 1998. The two goals he scored before the Brazil game were also game winners.

He scored the lone goal in his team’s second group match against Japan, a 1-0 win, before providing one goal and one assist in the 2-1 win over Slovenia in the Netherlands’ opening game of the second round.

For Germany, Miroslav Klose is nearing the record for most career goals in the World Cup. The Bayern Munich striker scored two of his four tournament goals in the quarterfinal win over Argentina, raising his tally to 14, just one short of the World Cup record of 15 held by Ronaldo of Brazil.