Paper Round
July 9, 2010

Beckham picks the team

Posted on 09/07/2010

While ESPN.co.uk have picked their best players from the World Cup in our Friday Top Tens, David Beckham has made his choices in The Sun.

Fernando Muslera (Uruguay)
The Lazio keeper is a find for me having only just recently made his international debut a few months ago. Uruguay didn't concede any goals in the group stage and his two penalty saves against Ghana in the quarter-final shootout show that he has the temperament for the big stage.

Ashley Cole (England)
I also enjoyed watching Portugal's Fabio Coentrao but Ashley for me is the best left-back in the world and probably England's star performer in South Africa. He never stops running and, while he is a very good defender, he loves to attack opposing full-backs.

Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Having played with Sergio at Real Madrid I can say he's one of the most determined and committed defenders I've come across. He enjoys linking up with the attack and loves to shoot when he gets the chance. He has had a great World Cup to help Spain reach the final.

John Mensah (Ghana)
The Ghana captain was very solid as they progressed through the tournament and were unlucky in their quarter-final with Uruguay. The rugged defender, on loan at Sunderland last season, leads by example and is not afraid to put his body on the line for his team.

Carles Puyol (Spain)
The semi-final showed how important he is for Spain. Not only was he strong defensively, he got the crucial goal that took Spain into the final. I've played against him and not only does he have natural talent, he has enormous presence and a really strong work ethic.

Thomas Muller (Germany)
Not a name many had heard before the tournament but four goals and three assists from five games is an amazing return from the 20-year-old. It was a shame he missed the semi and you could tell Germany missed his pace and finishing ability.

Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)
Has had a very good World Cup tournament and was particularly impressive in the 4-1 last-16 win against England. He has all the attributes of a modern midfield player. You would certainly want him alongside you in any team.

Xavi (Spain)
You could pick Xabi Alonso or Andres Iniesta but I love to watch Xavi play. Every team needs a Xavi. He runs the engine room and is such an intelligent player.
He has amazing vision and passing ability and, for me, is Spain's main man. He is a worthy candidate for player of the tournament.

Wesley Sneijder (Holland)
A talented playmaker who has had a great season for both club and country. He has an eye for a pass and impressive dead-ball ability. He's got many goals here from an advanced midfield role. The Inter man will definitely be one to watch in Sunday's final.

David Villa (Spain)
With five goals taking him joint top of the scoring charts so far, he has proven he is one of the world's best finishers. He can play off either foot and is devastating in front of goal. It's frightening that he is joining what is already a great Barcelona team.

Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
A striker who has got better and better over the years. I was lucky to play with Diego at Manchester United and we could all see what a talented player he was. Now he has supreme confidence. With four goals and several assists, he's had a great tournament.

Paul the psychic Octopus

Paul the Octopus has become one of the stars of the World Cup after he correctly predicted all six of Germany's results. Paul Garbett in The Telegraph gives us an insight into the private life of the world's most famous mollusc.

1. He's originally from Weymouth

Although he now resides at the Aquarium Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, Paul was actually born in Weymouth and moved from the town's Sea Life Park in 2006. Fiona Smith, from Weymouth Sea Life Park, told the Dorset Echo: “He never made any predictions while he was living here but maybe he was waiting for a big event like the World Cup until he revealed his abilities.”

2. He's a wanted man

Argentine chef Nicolas Bedorrou was so angry after Paul correctly predicted his team would lose its quarter-final clash with Germany that he suggested a way to cook the octopus. He posted on Facebook: "We will chase him and put him on some paper. We will then beat him (but correctly!) in order to keep the meat tender and then put it in boiling water."

3. He's big news

Paul's predictions have gained so much popularity that German news channel NTV has started to broadcast his predictions live, with two reporters situated next to his tank so they can bring their viewers all the latest goings on.

4. He's the biggest celebrity in Oberhausen

Having wowed the world's media with his predictions, Paul has put the mundane Germany city of Oberhausen on the map. Oberhausen, which is twinned with Middlesbrough, also boasts such sights as Germany's biggest shopping centre and Europe's largest disc-type gasometer. Worth a visit then ...

5. He's got a good track record

Paul began to predict Germany's results during the Euro 2008 tournament, correctly choosing the winner in four of Germany's six matches. He predicted Germany to win every match but was wrong when they lost to Croatia and in the final to Spain. So far at the World Cup 2010, Paul has correctly predicted the winner of each of Germany's five matches.

6. He could have made you a packet

Having correctly tipped the winner of Germany's five World Cup matches, backing Paul's tips could have netted you a few squid (sorry). A £1 accumulator bet on all five results would have won you £131, which could comfortably buy you a few bags of mussels.

7. He's an intelligent creature

Octopuses are highly intelligent animals and have been proven to have a strong short and long-term memory. Fiona Smith, head of animal care at Weymouth Sea Life Park said: “Common octopuses like Paul are very intelligent. We equate their intelligence with that of a dog and they love problem solving and figuring things out."

8. He's a Twitter and Facebook sensation

Paul has become an online phenomenon over recent weeks and is now one of the most talked about topics on the web. The phrases "Paul the Octopus" and "Pulpo", the Spanish word for octopus, are both currently in the top 10 global trends on Twitter.

9. He doesn't cheat

Paul predicts results by opening one of the two flag-covered plastic food containers in his tank. Tanja Munzig from the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen has denied any suggestions that the containers are rigged. She said: "There are no tricks, the food is the same and everything in the two containers is the same except for the flags."

10. He's not scared of death threats

According to his keeper, Oliver Walenciak, Paul is unfazed by a series of death threats sent by Argentinian supporters who blame the octopus for their World Cup exit. He said: "There are always people who want to eat our octopus but he is not shy and we are here to protect him as well. He will survive."


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