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Saturday, July 10, 2010
Germany ends campaign on high note

By Leander Schaerlaeckens
ESPN.com

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa -- It'll be a nice plane ride home for the Germans. They avenged their semifinal loss to Spain by defeating Uruguay 3-2 in a rip-roaring third-place match in the pouring rain. Here's who was hot and who was not.

Mesut Özil, Germany: B+

Die Mannschaft's streaky playmaker rebounded from underwhelming performances against Argentina and Spain when he was shut down by a strong holding midfielder and then by a good zone defense, respectively. Today he was incisive again, although he occasionally made things much more complicated than they needed to be when considering the space that was available to him. His homework for the next World Cup is to learn how to simplify his play.

Luis Suarez, Uruguay: B-

After a one-game suspension in the semifinals on account of a red card against Ghana, the feisty striker returned Saturday but took a while to announce his presence. Although he eventually got plenty of touches in the attacking third, he was seldom as dangerous as he could have been.

Thomas Müller, Germany: A-

The prodigy put Germany ahead in the 19th minute by skillfully helping home a rebound off a swerving Bastian Schweinsteiger shot. Muller really is the revelation of this tournament, and he's now tied for first place on the scoring charts with five goals -- matched by David Villa, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlan. There's lots more to come from this exciting player in future World Cups.

Diego Forlan, Uruguay: A

He had a stellar tournament and could again be counted on to lead his team with several influential touches and a sensational volley past a helpless Hans-Jorg Butt. As one of the tournament's standout players, Forlan deserved to take some hardware home. But ultimately he wasn't surrounded by quite enough talent. Who knows what he could have achieved had he been born a few hundred miles southwest of Uruguay?

Sami Khedira, Germany: B+

Germany's central midfielder, who has formed such an imposing partnership with Schweinsteiger, got forward more than he usually does. It sometimes created room for Uruguay to exploit but also oiled Germany's offensive wheels considerably. Khedira ultimately was rewarded for his audacity with the game-winning goal, cleverly heading a bouncing ball into the top far corner.

Diego Perez, Uruguay: A-

The Uruguayan holding midfielder was substituted halfway through the second half and thoroughly deserved the roaring round of applause he received, not just for tonight's game, but for his entire tournament. Together with Egidio Arevalo, he formed a stout wall in front of the back line, laying the foundation for Uruguay's remarkable run into the final four of the tournament.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at leander.espn@gmail.com.