| JOHANNESBURG, July 1
JOHANNESBURG, July 1 Argentina's Lionel Messi is
playing well despite not scoring at the World Cup and will
easily be the best player at the tournament, former Portugal
great Eusebio said on Thursday.
The top scorer at the 1966 Cup also urged the media and
public not to be too hard on England's Wayne Rooney and
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, who he said had tried but failed
to reach their full potential in South Africa.
Eusebio and Germany's Gerd Mueller, Golden Boot winner at
the 1970 World Cup, picked Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain,
Spain's David Villa and Thomas Mueller of Germany to fight it
out for the 2010 top scorer award.
But for Eusebio, Messi is the star.
"I have no doubt that this little player who happens to be
Argentinean, Messi, will be the best player of this tournament,"
he told reporters in Johannesburg.
FIFA World Player of the Year Messi is still waiting for his
first goal in the competition but has played brilliantly, coming
close repeatedly and setting up his teammates while helping his
country canter through to the quarter-finals.
A rejuvenated Argentina, after a poor qualifying campaign,
face Germany in the last eight on Friday. The Golden Boot is
awarded to the top goalscorer while the Golden Ball goes to the
BRAZIL TO WIN
Eusebio picked Brazil to win their sixth trophy, but was
less sure which team would challenge them in the final, and
shied away from criticising compatriot Ronaldo for a less than
"Unfortunately for Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo did not do
very well in this championship, but I am not going to condemn
him for that," he said.
"I have also played in the past and I can understand players
are in good or bad form."
Portugal lost to Spain in the second round, with Ronaldo,
World Player of the Year in 2008, scoring just one goal which
came during the team's 7-0 rout of North Korea.
However, Eusebio said his country were unlucky not to made
it through to the quarter-finals.
"I believe Portugal played very well, we were beaten by
Spain, by 1-0, and a very doubtful goal," he said.
Villa scored the winner for Spain, which some Portuguese
players said should have been disallowed for offside.
Eusebio also defended Brazil's Kaka for being sent off
against Ivory Coast for a second yellow card after allegedly
elbowing Abdelkader Keita, saying he fell foul of the antics of
other players and a "sleeping" linesman.
"I know Kaka very well, he is a true professional ... in
this particular case I saw Kaka being provoked by the other
player, I didn't see him touch the other player," he said.
"What I believe also is that maybe the linesman shouldn't
(Editing by Michael Holden)