Wesley Sneijder vs David Villa

2010-07-10 00:00

THE battle for the Golden Boot award for the tournament’s top scorer between the Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder and Spain hitman David Villa could be key to today’s final at Soccer City.

Both players are on five goals each and the only two with a realistic chance of still winning the Golden Boot. Uruguay’s Diego Forlan and Germany’s Miroslav Klose, with four goals apiece, both saw their sides knocked out in the semi-final stage.

Slovakia’s Robert Vittek and Gonzalo Higuain of Argentina also scored four goals before seeing their sides exit, the former in the second round and the latter in the quarter-finals.

The only other player with a slight hope of winning the Golden Boot, though he would have to score at least a hat-trick, is Holland winger Arjen Robben, who has two goals, having returned from injury as a substitute in his side’s second-round victory against Slovakia.

And while one of Sneijder or Villa seems likely to win the Golden Boot, both are also on the shortlist for, and stand a good chance of winning, the Golden Ball award for the World Cup’s best player, as voted by the tournament’s accredited media.

Another favourite must be Forlan, who apart from his four goals, three of them scored from range, almost single-handedly guided Uruguay to the semi-finals with a masterful creative display.

Also on the shortlist for the Golden Ball are Ghana’s Asamoah ­Gyan, Spain’s Andres Iniesta and Xavi, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Germany’s Mesut Oezil and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Of Villa and Sjneider, the Dutchman has been the most efficient in front of goal. The Inter Milan playmaker has scored his five goals from 22 shots on goal.

And Sneijder plays more as an attacking midfielder or second striker behind Robin van Persie for Holland, rather than an out-and-out striker as Villa does.

A forceful, dynamic playmaker, and one of the best passers of the ball in football, who also clearly possesses an eye for goal, Sneijder can slow a game down or speed it up as necessary. He came into the tournament on a high after winning the Champions League with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan in May.

Villa has been one of the most lethal strikers in Europe for the past three seasons with Valencia, from whom he has signed for Barcelona for next season. He is skilled and pacy, and only two other Spanish players have added to Villa’s five goals out of La Roja’s seven at the World Cup.

Villa was the tournament’s top scorer as Spain won Euro 2008.

Sneijder is somewhat fortunate to be on four goals for the World Cup, as he was credited for the own goal in Holland’s 2-1 quarter-final victory over Brazil that glanced in off Felipe Melo’s head.

The Dutchman did not score in Netherlands’ 2-0 opening victory against Denmark. He scored the lone winner in a 1-0 win over Japan and was not on the scoresheet in the 2-1 win against Cameroon. He scored once in the 2-1 second-round victory against Slovakia, twice against Brazil in the quarters and once in the 3-2 semi-final win against Uruguay.

Villa and his team-mates could not score in Spain’s opening 1-0 defeat against Switzerland, but he scored both goals in the 2-0 win against Honduras (missing a penalty), and once in the 2-1 win against Chile.

The striker scored lone winners against Portugal and Paraguay in the last-16 and quarters, then did not score as Carles Puyol headed Spain’s winner in the 1-0 semi-final win against Germany.

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