World Cup Special: Team Of The Round extracts the best XI, and honourable mentions, from another crucial matchday...
Best XI

Formation: 4-4-2


Gianluigi Buffon

The Azzurri's shot-stopper was underemployed for long spells of his side's 2-0 win over Bulgaria. However, his point blank stop from Stiliyan Petrov is a genuine contender for save of the season. The Juventus custodian's block defied logic and gravity and was enough to preserve the world champions' clean sheet.


Andreas Beck

The Germans were one to the good at half-time but were liberated in the second half once Philipp Lahm drifted to his usual left-back role. Hoffenheim's Beck came off the bench to lend his side a degree more balance against Azerbaijan; he will have done his chances of starting the crunch tie against Russia no harm either.

Pepe (Portugal)

Grand occasions call for grand characters and the Real Madrid centre-back, playing in midfield, was certainly the hero for Portugal against Hungary. His towering header came at the very outset of a steely and domineering performance.

Fabio Cannavaro (Italy)

It was vintage stuff from the Italian captain as La Nazionale overcame Bulgaria. Clean sheets were once the staple diet of the Juve man but the parsimony seemed to have deserted him in his twilight years. However, his reading of the game, commitment and positional sense were all in sync. It was like 2006 all over again.

John Arne Riise (Norway)

The Roma left-back was his country's best in show as they overcame Macedonia to claim second place in Group 9. However, it is unlikely to be enough for Norway to claim a play-off berth. Nonetheless, Riise netted a free-kick to make it three goals in as many qualifiers.


Aaron Lennon

Proved himself to be the leading candidate for England's right-wing role with an outstanding performance. He replicated his Spurs form with an incisive run which earned a penalty for the first goal, a well-flighted cross set up the second and he pulled the Croatians out of position with his run when the third ended up going in.

Cesc Fabregas (Spain)

Arsenal's captain emerged from the shadow of Andres Iniesta with masterful display against Estonia. He grabbed his first-team chance with both hands, securing a goal and an all-round efficient display.

Frank Lampard (England)

Catapulted the Three Lions towards World Cup qualification with a near-perfect performance. He missed one good chance, but put away a penalty early on, had a great free-kick well-saved, scored a deft header and played a smart chip over the top to set up England's fourth.

Salvador Cabanas

The Club America attacker tore Argentina asunder, even if he did not make it on the scoresheet himself. There proved to be more to his game than goals as he completely dominated Argentina's third of the field,  providing an assist for Nelson Valdez's winner.


Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon)

Paul Le Guen has reinvigorated the Indomitable Lions' World Cup qualification campaign and the Frenchman has been rewarded with some excellent and responsible performances from Samuel Eto'o. The Inter forward was in tremendous form for Cameroon as they downed Gabon for the second time in a week, netting his second goal in two matches.

Nilmar (Brazil)

It is not every international side that can leave out their first choice strikers and be rewarded with a hat-trick from an understudy. Nevertheless, the Villarreal striker, Nilmar, ably deputised for Robinho and Luis Fabiano with a treble as Brazil overcame Chile. He was also involved for Julio Baptista's goal.



Beck  Pepe  Cannavaro  Riise

Lennon  Fabregas  Lampard  Cabanas

Eto'o  Nilmar

Honourable mentions:

Jan Mucha (Slovakia)
Ricardo Osorio (Mexico)
Servet Cetin (Turkey)
Radanfah Abu Bakr (Trinidad & Tobago)
Fabio Grosso (Italy)
Gojko Kacar (Serbia)
Aleksandrs Caunas (Latvia)
Vladimir Weiss (Slovakia)
Andrey Arshavin (Russia)
Sejad Salihovic (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
Steven Gerrard (England)
Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)
Landon Donovan (USA)
Nicklas Bendtner (Denmark)
Elyaniv Barda (Israel)
Milan Baros (Czech Republic)
Jaycee John (Bahrain)
Sergei Khizhnichenko (Kazakhstan)
Miku (Venezuela)
Humberto Suazo (Chile)