Olympic Soccer

2008 Men's Olympic Soccer: The Best XI


The 2008 Men’s Olympic Soccer Tournament will be remembered for some classic matchs, amazing goals, and for most American fans, for a terrible elbow and tournament that was shorter than it could have been.

It should also be remembered for the memorable performances, be they stunning goals or masterful efforts over the course of the entire tournament.

There is little debating that Lionel Messi was the star of the tournament. He wasn’t just the player so many casual fans wanted to see, he wound up being the best player in China, showing off his electric speed and beautiful passing.

There were plenty of other great performances, from Moussa Dembele’s two-goal effort for Belgium to eliminate Italy, to Chinedu Ogbuke Obassi’s display in the semifinal win against Belgium, and lastly Lionel Messi’s showing in the Gold Medal match, when he raced around Nigeria’s stingy defense before finally setting up the game-winning goal with another deft pass.

With all this in mind, here is a look at the SBI Olympic All-Tournament Team:

2008 Olympics Men’s Soccer All-Tournament Team

  • Goalkeeper- Ambruse Vanzekin, Nigeria
  • Defender- Alex Silva, Brazil
  • Defender- Breno, Brazil
  • Defender- Ezequiel Garay, Argentina
  • Midfielder- Lionel Messi, Argentina
  • Midfielder- Fernando Gago, Argentina
  • Midfielder- Anderson, Brazil
  • Midfielder- Angel DiMaria, Argentina
  • Forward- Moussa Dembele, Belgium
  • Forward- Chinedu Ogbuke Obassi, Nigeria
  • Forward- Peter Odemwingie, Nigeria

I’m sure there’ll be questions about some of the selections. Here are a few explanations:

I know Vanzekin blundered in coming off his line on the game-winning goal in the gold medal match, but he was stellar throughout the tournament up until that point and deserves his place. Dutch goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer deserves honorable mention.

Forward was a tough one to call, but I feel like Odemwingie was dangerous all tournament and served as a perfect partner for Ogbuke Obassi. I considered putting Gerald Sibon in, as well as Sergio Aguero, but both get honorable mention.

I know big stars Juan Riquelme and Ronaldinho will get consideration from some, but I just think the four I list had better tournaments. Giovinco is was the only player in the Best XI who didn’t reach the semifinals but his skill in Italy’s four games was unquestioned. Upon further review, I decided that DiMaria merited the spot ahead of Giovinco.

If you watched the Argentina-Brazil game you’ll probably ask how both Alex Silva and Breno make the team when they were toasted by Argentina. It’s simple, they were untouchable the rest of the tournament, posting five shutouts in six matches. You could have argued for a Nigeria defender in that spot, but Silva and Breno were beasts.

Gago and Anderson may not have made many highlight reels during the tournament but the work both men put in were keys in their teams’ successes.

So who did I miss? Who do you you think should have made the Best XI that I forgot? Who did I include that you think has no business on the list?

Share your thoughts on the Olympic Best XI below.

  • JK

    Sorry Ives. I watched a lot of Vanzekin like you, and I think Vermeer played better than him. Also, where is Obinna? Other than that great job with this Starting XI.


  • wjmooner


    Great defense of your goalkeeper selection. For some reason I was thinking at the time of my earlier post that Romero started all the games and was only subbed out of the Brazil game, but of course Ustari started them and did not play in the final.

    I’ll take your word for it with respect to the other Nigeria games then, since I only watched half of them.


  • andacagar

    Mascherano Mascherano Mascherano Mascherano Mascherano Mascherano Mascherano Mascherano Mascherano Mascherano Mascherano Mascherano…

    he is Argentinas most important player and he was the reason Argentina won the Gold again. He is the only player that won it this year and at the previos olympics. He is one of the top midfielders in the world, this guy is mad underated.


  • aaron

    Liverpool paid a large sum of money to sign Mascherano, I’m pretty sure he’s not “mad underated” :) That said, I’d include him as well in the best 11.


  • tincho

    Ives have you ever watch brazil play??

    Breno was the worst player in the olympic games……

    please stop looking the games statistics and start watching the games.


  • Ives

    Tincho, have you seen Breno play or did you limit your viewing to the Argentina game? If you watched Breno throughout the tournament he was a beast. Now you can disagree, but spare me the “did you watch him play” bit. It’s WEAK.


  • Joamiq

    Ives, you’ve got to be kidding about the Nigerian goalkeeper. The guy is clueless. He made a huge mistake in the gold medal game and I have NO idea what he was doing against the US. He looked like he wanted to be a field player.


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