Two men entered Day 17 with high hope of strengthening their claim to the Hyundai Best Young Player Award. And while one was unable to showcase his best form on what proved to be his South African swansong, the other issued an emphatic statement of intent. FIFA.com reflects.
Thomas Muller: The Germany attacker was the best player on the pitch against England. The 20-year-old scored two and set another up to inspire a 4-1 win that put Joachim Low’s team in the quarter-finals. Just after the half-hour, Muller opened up England’s left flank with a swift exchange of passes with Mesut Ozil, before teeing up Lukas Podolski for his side's second goal.
Into the second half, and with Fabio Capello’s team pushing for an equaliser at 2-1, he sealed Germany's success with a quick-fire double on the counter-attack. For the first he sent Bastian Schweinsteiger breaking forward with a pass from midway inside his own half, and then raced forward to collect the return ball and fire past David James. The Bayern Munich player then slotted home at the far post to conclude another slick counter and with it victory. “I'm happy for him,” Low said of Muller post-match. “He is a special player. There is one quality I like about Thomas - he is always relaxed when he is in the box. I also like the way he finishes off chances.”
Giovani dos Santos: The little Mexican did not stop trying against Argentina. His efforts went in vain, however, as the South Americans controlled possession and the flow of the game. He completed 32 of 42 attempted passes, the last of which was his last of this FIFA World Cup after El Tri were eliminated.
Javier Pastore: The Argentina playmaker was only brought on in the 87th minute against Mexico. He therefore had insufficient time to make a real impact, but he did manage to complete all of his four attempted passes.