World Cup 2010 - Pundit: Battle for third

Eurosport - Sat, 10 Jul 08:52:00 2010

Germany and Uruguay must pick themselves up after their semi-final defeats to play the third place match.

- 0

- - -

Third-place play-off: Uruguay v Germany - Port Elizabeth - 19.30

A third-place play-off is billed as the game nobody wants to play, but this meeting of beaten semi-finalists should provide no end of entertainment, as long as the dodgy Port Elizabeth pitch does not get in the way. Germany's build-up to the game has been disrupted by a virus sweeping through the camp. Captain Philipp Lahm and Lukas Podolski have been affected, while coach Joachim Loew was absent from training on Friday because of the bug. Striker Miroslav Klose, meanwhile, is battling a back injury. Thomas Mueller missed the semi-final against Germany through suspension and returns, with Piotr Trochowski dropping out. On the Uruguay side, excitingly, Luis Suarez is back after his suspension for the infamous handball against Ghana. Expect him to get a rough ride from the South African fans. Left-back Jorge Fucile is also back from suspension. Diego Forlan has a thigh niggle but should play. 

- - -

UEFA President Michel Platini was taken to hospital in Johannesburg after fainting in a restaurant, UEFA official William Gaillard has told Reuters.

"He is fine. He had been suffering from a cold and a bit of flu and he fainted before eating in a restaurant," Gaillard said of the former French international player and coach.

"He is still in hospital now undergoing tests but he is conscious and is fine. It is not true that he has had a heart attack."

Latest news here

- - -

Water cooler chat: Still Octopus Paul

A few days ago, everybody was talking about Octopus Paul.

Now everybody is talking about the fact everybody is talking about Octopus Paul.

And I'm talking about the fact everybody is talking about the fact everybody is talking about Octopus Paul.

The clairvoyant cephalopod arguably has as much at stake as anyone from the final two games of the World Cup.

Having correctly predicted the result of all six Germany games at this World Cup, he was carried live on two German networks, one Dutch and one Spanish, as he made his picks today.

Siding with the bookies' favourites, Paul backed Germany to beat Uruguay in tonight's third place playoff, and Spain to beat Netherlands in the final.

Paul's picks, made by picking a clam out of a perspex box with flags on it, immediately made global news - going top of this website for several hours.

It might be the lack of hard news that comes with the end of a World Cup, but if Paul is right he will be guaranteed a place in history, slotting in ahead of Octopussy and Octopus's Garden as the species' most resonant cultural reference.

- - -

World Cup jargon: Golden Ball shortlist

Here are the 10 players selected media will vote for, with the winner receiving the Golden Ball award as the best player of the World Cup.

I have put the players in the order I would place them. You know, if I had a vote.

1-David Villa (Spain)

Deadly striker with five of Spain's seven goals to his name. The Barcelona-bound Villa has shown technique, composure and class, putting Fernando Torres to shame.

2-Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)

Sneijder is Holland's main creative force in central midfield, a supremely gifted player who has somehow totted up five goals. Also won the Champions League with Inter Milan.

3-Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

The main reason Uruguay reached the semi-finals. Forlan gave a masterclass in long-range shooting, hitting three goals from outside the box plus a penalty.

4-Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)

Schweinsteiger performed the injured Michael Ballack's midfield general role far better than the man himself could have managed. A colossus.

5-Xavi (Spain)

The creative fulcrum of the Spain midfield, people have belatedly realised just what an astonishing player the 30-year-old is. The best passer in the world, hands down.

6-Mesut Ozil (Germany)

The little left-footer exploits the space between the opposition's defence and midfield. Devastating on the counter-attack and scored a cracker against Ghana.

7-Arjen Robben (Netherlands)

Made a late start as he was returning from injury, but quickly hit his stride. Hit a trademark cut-inside-and-shoot goal against Slovakia and a less typical header against Uruguay.

8-Lionel Messi (Argentina)

There was no repeat of Diego Maradona's heroics in 1986, nor even a goal, but for four matches Messi's dribbles, flicks and body swerves lit up the tournament.

9-Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)

The determined, powerful striker will go down as the man who missed a penalty to put Ghana in the last four, but he can be proud of a productive World Cup.

10-Andres Iniesta (Spain)

Xavi's Barcelona sidekick has been less influential, but has provided some timely injections of quality. A superb dribbler, scored a neat goal against Chile.

- - -

Follow Armchair Pundit on Twitter:

Alex Chick / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account