JOE's Alternative non-La Liga Team of the Year
The FIFA Team of the Year announced yesterday was made up entirely of players from La Liga, but if we forget the Spanish league for a minute, who would make the cut? Presenting JOE’s alternative non-La Liga team of the year (4-3-3 formation).
1. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany)
Endured something of a shaky start to his Bayern Munich career and wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms by the club’s most fervent supporters, but there are few dissenting voices these days as the German has established himself as arguably the best netminder in Europe.
2. Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich and Germany)
Such is Lahm’s consistent excellence that it is very rare he puts in anything less than an eight out of ten performance and it doesn’t seem to bother him whether he plays on the left or the right.
Brilliant once again during 2012 as Bayern reached the Champions League Final and established a commanding lead in this season’s Bundesliga, while he also stood out for Germany during the Euros.
3. Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund and Germany)
Dortmund have been the team to watch in the Champions League this season and while players such as Gotze, Reus and Lewandowski have attracted most of the attention, in Hummels and Neven Subotic, they have extremely solid foundations at the back.
Good in the air and tough in the tackle, Hummels is also very comfortable on the ball and is the launch pad for many Dortmund attacks and it is no surprise that he has been deployed in midfield in the past.
Like Lahm, he was impressive at the Euros for Germany until their rather limp exit to Italy in the semi-finals.
4. Vincent Kompany (Manchester City and Belgium)
Kompany hasn’t had the same dominating influence this season as he had in City’s title winning campaign, where he was truly inspirational at centre back and scored the decisive goal in the Manchester derby that ended up being the difference between the bitter rivals.
Starting to return to form in recent weeks, City will need him at his best if they are to claw back the deficit separating them from the league leaders at present.
5. Leighton Baines (Everton and England)
There was a lukewarm reaction from many Man United fans when Baines was linked with a big money move to Old Trafford in the summer, but few would object to such a move now after the Everton defender’s magnificent start to this season.
Possessing a brilliant shot and a brilliant delivery from the left wing, Baines has tidied up the defensive side of his game and his understanding with Steven Pienaar has been crucial to the Toffees’ form so far.
6. Andrea Pirlo (Juventus and Italy)
Why AC Milan decided to let Pirlo go for free in the summer of 2011 is beyond us, but the folly of such a decision has been brutally exposed since, with Pirlo inspiring Juventus to a league title last season and delivering one masterful display after another at the Euros in the summer.
The likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Sergio Busquets are rightly held up as the best midfielders in the game at the moment, but Pirlo sits easily in their company. Time seems to slow down when he has the ball and that is the sign of a great player.
The panenka penalty against England was the coup de grace in what was a brilliant 2012 for the Italian.
7. Yaya Toure (Manchester City and Ivory Coast)
Like Vincent Kompany he hasn’t hit the heights of last season in this campaign yet, but for a while towards the end of last season Toure was virtually unplayable, whether it was in a holding role in the City midfield or when Mancini pushed him further forward to boost the attack.
When he gets into that long, rangy stride of his, few midfielders can keep up and he is a far better playmaker than he is often given credit for. A beast.
8. Gareth Bale (Tottenham and Wales)
Yes, he has a tendency to go down rather easily at times, but such is his ability to wreak havoc that he is focus of more attention from the opposition than almost anybody else in the Premier League. With a few goals off his right peg this year he’s not as one dimensional as he used to be and is revelling in the freedom to roam around granted to him by Andre Villas-Boas.
Real Madrid are rumoured to be interested and Spurs will do well to hold on to him for the long-term.
9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St. Germain and Sweden)
Amazingly, Zlatan still has his critics, but he just lets his football speak for itself. Majestic for Sweden during the Euros, he also scored THAT goal against England and is the totem of a PSG side who are (very) dark horses for the Champions League title.
10. Robin van Persie (Manchester United and Netherlands)
A few eyebrows were raised when Man United splashed out huge money on a 29-year old with a history of injury problems in the summer, a deal which is now being hailed as one of the most successful in the Premier League in recent years.
RVP’s record of 38 goals last year speaks for itself, but his touch, his vision, his awareness and overall class shouldn’t be ignored, as much as Arsenal fans are trying to at the moment.
11. Neymar (Santos and Brazil)
Brazilian football has produced some outrageously skilful players over the years, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen anyone as devastating with the ball at his feet than the 20-year old Santos forward.
Barely a week goes by without Neymar scoring a ridiculous goal in his native league and it seems only a matter of time before he joins one of the European heavyweights.
Now if he can only sort out that haircut.
If you think we left someone out, or included an undeserving player in our XI, don't be shy and let us know below.