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Saturday, March 13, 2010
Updated: March 15, 11:23 AM ET
Which player is most overrated?

ESPN.com

Earlier in the World Cup 101 series, we ran our list of the top 50 players you'll see in the World Cup.

For every superstar who impresses us with his scoring ability or defensive skill, however, there is a player with a superstar reputation who doesn't always live up to that perception. Here are some choices for most overrated player in this year's World Cup. Who do you think deserves that label? Discuss in the comments section below.

Fabio Cannavaro, Italy

The hero of Italy's 2006 World Cup victory has not been the same defender since the Azzurri's summer triumph in Berlin. Three underwhelming seasons at Real Madrid following the 2006 World Cup hurt his international reputation. The open, fast-paced style of Spain's La Liga simply did not suit the Italian, and it exposed his quickly diminishing speed. A return to Juventus (and more important, Serie A) this season has helped his game, but it's become very clear that he is no longer a world-class player.

Cannavaro will again wear the captain's armband for Italy in South Africa, but his Juventus teammate Giorgio Chiellini is clearly the class of Italy's back line. With no surging playmaker to create offensive chances and question marks at striker, Italy must rely more than ever on a well-organized and stout defense if it is to have any chance of defending its world title. And while there is no doubting Cannavaro's excellent defensive intuition and field awareness, I can't help but feel that his 36-year-old legs will let him down in a critical match this summer.

-- Zach Benabid

Robinho, Brazil

The sprightly winger possesses a bag of tricks and loves the stepover, but he's been a troublemaker almost everywhere he's played, including Real Madrid and Manchester City. It says much that his immense talent and flashes of brilliance haven't overcome the off-field indiscretions and indifferent play in Europe.

Somewhat surprisingly, Brazil manager Dunga, a hard-nosed midfield grinder in his day, is sticking with Robinho as his joker in the pack instead of former world player of the year Ronaldinho, who has been recapturing some of his old form at AC Milan.

-- Ravi Ubha

German strikers

If Germany is to extend its remarkable streak of reaching at least the quarterfinals, which dates back to 1982, Joachim Low's strikers have to live up to their reputations, as opposed to the form they have shown so far this season.

Now 31, Miroslav Klose, who scored five goals at each of the last two World Cups, has a single Bundesliga goal to his credit. He was more prolific in qualifying, although six of his seven strikes came in two games, against Finland and Azerbaijan.

Lukas Podolski has youth on his side, as well as the experience of netting three times at the last World Cup. Fans of "Die Mannschaft" will hope those happier recollections eclipse his short-term memories, which feature just two goals in 20 games for Cologne.

And then there is Mario Gomez, who, despite reaching double figures in goals since replacing Podolski at Bayern last summer, has continued to demonstrate a proneness to miss, when it seems easier to score, that many saw for the first time at Euro 2008.

-- Andrew Hush

Thierry Henry, France

The epitome of striking success for a dozen years now, Henry is sure to be mentioned by many as one of the likely stars of the 2010 World Cup. His litany of successes runs back to lifting the World Cup as a 20-year-old -- France's leading scorer in its 1998 triumph -- and he is the lone holdover from that team, the best in French history.

Just last season, Henry netted 25 goals across competitions for club team Barcelona, but he has scored only three times this campaign for Barcelona, and his playing time has been reduced drastically in the new year. To add insult to injury, Henry was booed off the field by fans in Paris during a recent friendly loss to Spain. His plummeting form comes at the worst possible time for France, as the captain will be relied on in June to help Les Bleus navigate a challenging group that includes the hosts, Mexico and Uruguay. Throw in the massive distraction from the infamous handball incident that helped France qualify, and a repeat of the 2002 group stage exit seems more likely than a second straight appearance in the final match.

-- Brent Latham

John Terry, England

It's preposterous, of course, to suggest that John Terry is not an excellent player. He's the anchor and emotional leader for one of the best club teams in the world as well as one of the leading contenders to win the World Cup in June. But Terry's inclusion into the upper echelon of world-class talent has as much to do with the mystique surrounding him -- that of the rugged team warrior -- as it does his ability.

Terry's take-no-prisoners approach earns him plenty of plaudits, but his style depends on having a more technical, savvy and disciplined center back alongside him. Chelsea teammate Ricardo Carvalho will be wearing a Portuguese shirt and won't be able to bail him out in South Africa. And with Rio Ferdinand well past his prime and the scandal involving his extramarital affair with a former teammate's ex-girlfriend still simmering beneath the surface, Terry may find himself falling from the ranks of the world's best following this World Cup.

-- Conor Nevins