Last Monday we saw Cristiano Ronaldo pick up his third Ballon d’Or and second in a row. A player at the peak of his powers he made the FIFA/FIFPro World XI. The official World XI was picked by over 20,000 professional players – who am I to tell them they are wrong? Nobody, but the team looks more of an elitist team than the best team. Of course being a keen follower of football I have my own correct opinion and made a World XI that I felt would have been a fairer reflection of 2014.
I hope you agree.
(GK) Manuel Neuer
This isn’t even a contest. Neuer has proved that he is one of the best goalkeepers ever to play football. Coupled with his intelligence and sweeping ability he is the best man to have between the sticks now. He inspired Germany to success in the World Cup with outstanding displays against Algeria and France especially and led Bayern to a Bundesliga and cup double back in May.
(DL) Cesar Azpilicueta
Jose Mourinho famously once said that a team of 11 Azpilicueta’s would win the Champions League. He is definitely not wrong. The Premier League’s most consistent performer he churns out minimum 7/10 performances weekly. Playing most of last season out of position at left back ahead of Ashley Cole he fills his natural right-back role now with Chelsea. Here though, he plays left back.
(DC) Sergio Ramos
He played a starring role in a Madrid side that won the Copa del Rey, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in 2014. Scoring a last minute equalizer for Real versus Átletico in the Champions League final his performance was crucial to their capture of la Decima. A poor World Cup but Ramos had a magnificent year for Real which saw him make the side.
(DC) Diego Godín
He turned out 51 times for Átletico last season in what would become a historic year for them. Scoring on the final day in the Nou Camp which sealed La Liga capped off a near perfect season for him on a personal level. A resolute and mature defender he is also good for a handful of goals a season. Bringing his fine performances in to the World Cup and the first half of the 2014/15 season he was one of the first names on the list.
(DR) Phillip Lahm
Lahm marked his final performance in a Germany jersey by winning the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Moved to a central defensive role in the past few seasons here he occupies his original right back role. Enjoying successes with Neuer, Kroos and Müller at Bayern last season he has been playing at the very top level with the last few years. A great leader and organiser he will go down as one of Germany’s finest ever players.
Jorge Resurrección or ‘Koké’ as he known as announced himself to world last year. A central midfielder he demonstrates fantastic awareness with or without possession and his ability to link up play in the final third sees him as a real threat to opposition defences. A crucial player in the Átletico side he was dubbed “the new Xavi” by Xavi himself. Part of the ill-fated Spanish World Cup squad last year the 23 year-old made 2014 his own by inspiring Átleti to La Liga and a Champions League Final appearance.
(MC) Toni Kroos
A perfect partner for Koké Kroos is a complete midlfielder. He can play as a centre mid, attacking mid or defensive midfielder. What sets him apart is his ability to pick a pass. Playing in this side as a deep-lying playmaker Kroos regularly shows that you don’t have to run through a defence to take it apart. Winning a remarkable amount of trophies last year Kroos won the Bundesliga, World Cup and Club World Cup, to name a few. Moving to Los Blancos over the Summer he has hit the ground running and pulls the strings week in week out at the best club team in football at the moment.
(AML) Cristiano Ronaldo
What. A. Player. Rightfully picking up his third successive Ballon d’Or on Monday his poor World Cup was the only negative next to an otherwise perfect 2014. He broke more records last year than I can count on my fingers and toes. The first player on any team sheet he will be seen as one of the most talented players to ever kick a ball.
(AMR) Thomas Müller
I almost forgot about Müller when I made this team and I think that sentiment says a lot about him. He is not a flair player and he is not a remarkably stand out player. What you will get are socks rolled down around his ankles and a work rate any manager would kill for. He does the basics perfectly and goes above and beyond what his teammates and coaching staff ask of him. For club and country he won the same trophies that Lahm and Neuer won in 2014. Bringing his form through the Summer to this campaign he has notched up 11 goals and nine assists in 22 matches.
(SS) Lionel Messi
Playing just behind the striker in a shadow striker role is where Messi excels. Deploying him in a 4-3-3 formation as the focal point of the attack would be a suitable alternative but I think this formation works equally as well. Becoming Barcelona’s all time top scorer, La Liga’s all time top scorer and the top scorer in the Champions League aged 27 I think 2014 wasn’t too bad for Messi. He aslo won four man of the match awards and scooped the player for the tournament at the World Cup too. Not bad, eh?
(ST) Sergio Agüero
Luis Suarez missed too much time to be considered and Diego Costa missed this by a hair. Kun Agüero inspired Manchester City to a League and Cup double last season and was unfortunate not to win the World Cup. Finishing the 2013/14 Premier League season as the most prolific striker to ever play in the league (averaging a goal ever 115 minutes) Agüero hasn’t let a few injuries interrupt his form. One of a couple of truly world-class players playing in England he demonstrated his explosive speed and clinical finishing in a famous Champions League hat-trick versus Bayern Munich at the Etihad. No striker is better than him on his day, and it’s his day every day.
You can view the full team sheet here:
Personally I don’t think that the official team of the year was a fair reflection on 2014. Interestingly, six of the players I chose featured in the World Cup Final in Brazil. Also six players I chose featured on the official team of the year. The team comprises of four Germans, three Spanish, two Argentines, a Uruguayan and a Portuguese.
Have I made the worst call in the history of football? I love getting feedback so let me know in the comments below.