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LONDON (Reuters) - Top scorers Germany and winners Spain elicited the most positive reaction from online fans of this year's soccer World Cup, whilst France's player crisis made them the most maligned team of the tournament.
The inventiveness of Mesut Ozil, Bastian Sweinsteiger and Thomas Muller trampled the German stereotype of dull, penalty-grabbing pragmatists, provoking a tournament average 59 percent positive response online, according to a Web study.
Alterian Plc, a marketing software provider, tracked 1.9 million online conversations to reach its conclusions, using a tool that tracks words such as "bad," "terrible" and "amazing" used in association with country names.
Positivity about Germany reached 68 percent in the last two days of the tournament, as fans reflected on a side that scored 16 goals, twice as many as eventual winners Spain, who had the second most positive sentiment with 48 percent over this period.
After a final that matched an over-physical Dutch side against a Spanish team determined to play passing football, the figures suggest supporters prefer goals, passing and expansive play to red cards and Nigel de Jong-style karate kicks.
Previous winners France, who departed the tournament after a player strike and team breakdown that prompted presidential intervention, topped the chart of negative sentiment with 28 percent of all conversations using pejorative language.
So England's historic 4-1 defeat in the last sixteen saw its 20 percent positive sentiment before the first kick fall to a 13 percent average for the tournament.
As the vuvuzelas droned, South Africa -- branded the "real winner" by many -- rated highly in both categories, with 20 percent positive comment and 12 percent negative for the Cup's first African host.
Although Twitter dominated other forms of social media, with microblogs holding 40 percent of all tracked conversations, it experienced a huge drop-off after the opening ceremony.
Reporting by Ian Smith, editing by Paul Casciato