For my team of the year I have had a very difficult time picking players. Primarily the reason being it is very hard to judge a player over two halves of seasons. My point being that in the 2011/12 season a player could have been forced to play out of position by his old manager but his current manager, and with perhaps better players around him, may have found the best position to get the best out of the player. I have tried to go with consistency over flashy moment or purple patches (Mario Balotelli for example). I selected a 4-3-3 formation as it is my favourite and I can get enough midfielders and forward players to fit into it.
Petr Cech Chelsea – He went the correct way for all six penalties awarded in the Champions League final, saving three of them. It was his, and Didier Drogba’s, persistence that put Chelsea in the Champions League final. This season as well he has contributed immensely to Chelsea’s cause and if it were not for him Chelsea would be in a more troubling situation.
There really was only one other I considered for this spot and that is the magnificent Gigi Buffon, it was a coin toss in the end with the Juventus shot-stopper just missing out.
Lukasz Piszczek Borussia Dortmund – Right back was very difficult to fill but I went with Dortmund’s Polish full back Piszczek. His performances at Euros were certainly standout and it led to reported interest from Real Madrid and Chelsea. What impressed me most about Piszczek were his attacking movements that were always causing problems for the opposition full-backs. Whilst his defending is a bit susceptible, four assists from a right-back this season speaks volumes.
There were a couple I thought that could push Piszczek and they were Lichsteiner of Juve and Pablo Zabaleta from Manchester City, decided to go with Piszczek due to his attacking traits but that shouldn’t discount the other two who have had a great 2012.
Jordi Alba Barcelona/Valencia – Finding a left-back who has impressed this year is difficult but it was down to two choices and I went for Alba. His goal in the Euro 2012 final and his seamlessly easy adaption to the Barcelona squad were the key for him being selected. Like Piszczek, his attacking skills are excellent and in a Barcelona squad containing Messi & co he has done very well to stand out. As well as being a vital part of the Valencia side that secured a top 4 finish last season.
Ashley Cole was the other I considered for this position but I gave it to Alba as I felt my XI needed a bit more attacking from the full-backs.
Giorgio Chiellini Juventus – A mastodon at the back for the Old Lady. Far and away the best defender of the year, his solidity and leadership ensured that Juventus went the whole of last season unbeaten and this year he has only improved that. His willingness to get forward and his passing ability have made him an absolute must in my team and I have even given him the captaincy.
Mats Hummels Borussia Dortmund – Another Dortmund player but Hummels, like Chiellini, has been beastly. Hummels is great at reading the game and his performances over the past year have seen him help his Dortmund side to a league and cup double as well as finishing top of a Champions League group that contained Manchester City and Real Madrid. Like Chiellini, Hummels is a great ball-playing defender but he does know when to clear the ball away, averaging 11 clearances per game in the Champions League this season!
Vincent Kompany was one I was really touch and go on but his poor second half of 2012 made me swing it Hummels’ way.
Andrea Pirlo Juventus – The architect, the way he masterminded Juventus to the scudetto and Italy to the final of Euro 2012 was magnificent. The semi-final was arguably the best midfield performance I have seen all year, obviously helped by the space Germany gave him but that shouldn’t take anything from it. If Juventus are to go far in this season’s Champions League then Pirlo will play a defining role, lord only knows what Milan were thinking when they sold him.
Mesut Ozil Real Madrid – Ozil continues to impress me, I would say behind Ronaldo he is the best asset Madrid have. He may not have the frequency of passing like a Xavi or a Pirlo but Ozil does know when to play the perfect pass. Very much an integral player for both his club and country and Real would be foolish to let him go. His free-kick technique isn’t bad either!
Andres Iniesta Barcelona – Iniesta is one of the players who I should hate (2009 Champions League semi-final) but I adore immensely. His movement and passing are an absolute joy to behold. His performance in the final of Euro2012, particularly the pass to set up Silva’s goal, was sublime. Not been too bad this season, just the eight assists in eight league starts…
Xavi Hernandez was desperately unlucky to miss out but I went for Ozil as I felt it would be a bit unfair on Real Madrid. Not taking anything away from Xavi he would walk into any team in the world.
Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid- One of the two best players in world football. You could argue his second half of the year hasn’t been as prolific as his first but to score over 50 goals in a calendar year is no mean feat. His brace at the Camp Nou last season all but secured the title for Real Madrid, and he will certainly make any team of the year.
Lionel Messi Barcelona – I really don’t think an explanation is needed.
Asamoah Gyan Al Ain – A wildcard so to speak, but the Ghanaian has had a wonderful year in the UAE scoring for fun. He has continued the streak this season with a stunning 20 goals in just 12 games in the UAE Pro League. It isn’t his finishing only that has earned him a place in my XI, it is his all round play that gives him the nod ahead of many of his contemporaries. His back heel assist this season (can’t remember against whom of the top of my head) was an absolute joy to behold. It is an absolute pleasure to have him playing in the UAE and hopefully he can lead Al Ain to the Asian Champions League.
Obviously with Gyan getting a place in my XI meant no room for Didier Drogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Antonio Di Natale, Roberto Lewandowski, Robin Van Persie, Sergio Aguero or Radamel Falcao. It was very difficult but I went with Gyan as I felt he deserves more recognition for the hard work he has put in over the past year.
Do you have your own XI feel free to post below – or if you agree/disagree with mine.