On the 7th of January 2013 during the Ballon D’Or ceremony World Governing body FIFA revealed its FIFA/FIFPRO World XI for the 2011-2012 season.
The main laurel-the FIFA Ballon D’Or went to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. This was an expected announcement and very few (if any) would begrudge Messi that accolade. He was by far the outstanding performer of the past season.
The FIFA/FIFPRO final line up was another matter altogether. All the 11 players were from the La Liga and from either Barcelona or Real Madrid with the notable exception of Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao.
The World XI is a selection based on votes cast by professional players worldwide. For the 2011-2012 shortlist 50, 000 professional players cast their vote.
Taking into account these numbers one would suggest that the majority had their say but questions linger. Was the selection based purely on performance or did the voters choose their favourite players irregardless of performance?
Granted all the 11 players who made it to the final list are excellent players. However many have argued that the FIFA World XI must have a global face.
In future FIFA may have to reconsider their voting process. For example they could come up with an integrated system that would limit a voter from choosing more than four players from one association.
So what would have been the ultimate World XI based on last season’s performances? Here is my choice for the 2011-2012 FIFA World XI.
GOALKEEPER- IKER CASILLAS
Country: Spain Club: Real Madrid
The 31 year old has been an ever present for Real Madrid with over 600 games under his belt. He is a multiple title winner for both the National team and his club side where he is the Captain for both squads.
Casillas is blessed with incredible reflexes, makes superb saves and concedes very few goals. He was the stand out goalkeeper for the 2011-2012 season.
RIGHT BACK- PHILLIP LAHM
Country: Germany Club: Bayern Munchen
Touted as one of the best full backs in the world Lahm had a solid season at Bayern Munchen. He has extensive international experience and has played in two World Cup and two Euro Tournaments and is the current German Captain.
A right footed player he can play on either flank but prefers the right back position. Lahm has been on the 2006 and 2008 UEFA XI and in the 2008 FIFA World XI.
CENTRE BACK 1- DANIEL AGGER
Country: Denmark Club: Liverpool
Agger has only found his true form in the past two seasons after being beset by injuries after his transfer to Liverpool from Brondby in the 2006 season.
He was in sparkling form in the past season and also contributed upfront netting a few goals for his club. He also happens to be captain of the Danish team. He is able to read a game well and is known for his game saving tackles. These qualities led to Manchester City making a 20 million pound bid for his services.
CENTRE BACK 2- THIAGO SILVA
Country: Brazil Club: Paris Saint-Germaine
Brazilians are generally not known for their defensive prowess but Thiago is an exception. PSG demonstrated first-hand the demand for his services when they paid his former club AC Milan an estimated 42 million Euros to acquire his signature.
Thiago is a regular for the Brazilian National team and is known as a tenacious defender with great on the ball skills. Thiago performed well for his former club AC Milan in the season under review.
LEFT BACK- GARETH BALE
Country: Wales Club: Tottenham Hotspurs
In the recent past Gareth Bale has emerged as one of the greatest left backs in the world.
Gifted with dazzling speed and a ferocious shot Bale is not only known for his defensive qualities but also his attacking capabilities. His average of 10 goals a season for Spurs is a plus for any outfit.
Bale was chosen to the UEFA team for 2011 and has justified this by giving scintillating performances on the pitch.
Country: Portugal Club: Real Madrid
No world team would be complete without Christiano Ronaldo or CR7 as he is known.
Christiano was impressive for both club and country and is not only a creative influence in midfield but is also a potent attacking force. Last season he had 46 goals in the league and 60 overall thus highlighting this capability.
Christiano has won the Ballon D’Or in 2008 and was second in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012. His value is exemplified by his buy-out clause of 1 billion Euros.
Country: Spain Club: Manchester City
David Silva is the quintessential playmaker. Small in stature but a dominant figure while on the ball, Silva is a quick thinker and was the focal point of almost all of Manchester City’s attacks in the past season.
Silva has great vision and intellect and vast experience having played for all age groups at the National level winning many accolades in the process.
Country: Ivory Coast Club: Manchester City
The 2012 African player of the year, Toure shares some of the attributes of David Silva including intelligent passing, foresight and the capacity to launch attacks. In addition Toure is also physically strong and thus creates an extra dimension from the midfield.
Toure also had an impressive season at Manchester City and was one of the pivotal forces behind their success. Prior to that he is best remembered as a member of the all conquering Barcelona team of 2008-2009 that won a record six titles.
Country: Netherlands Club Bayern Munchen
Robben is categorized as a striker but more often than not plays as an attacking midfielder.
He has great dribbling skills, electric pace and an eye for goal as is demonstrated by his 19 goals for Bayern Munich during the period under review. He was one of the most important players for Bayern Munich during their 2011-2012 season including their run to the 2012 Champions League final.
ROBIN VAN PERSIE
Country: Netherlands Club: Manchester United
During the period under review Robin Van Persie was a player of Arsenal FC.
He almost singlehandedly ensured a top four finish for the Gunners and despite the fact that they did not win trophies for a seventh consecutive year he helped them mingle with the elite of world football.
A typical centre forward Van Persie’s play is based on quick movement and anticipation together with a ferocious left foot shot. He is also good at taking free kicks and corners.
In 2011 Van Persie almost eclipsed Alan Shearer’s season scoring record when he hit 35 goals and was in great form for the rest of that season, form that he has carried into Manchester.
Country: Argentina Club: Barcelona
Words cannot even begin to describe Lionel’s Messi 2011-2012 season.
His fourth consecutive Ballon D’Or was not only deserved, many felt it was a right.
The ‘little magician’ wove his spell on football lovers worldwide with his mesmerizing skills. 73 goals in 60 appearances exemplified his performance. Messi also broke the long held record of Gerd Muller of 85 goals in a calender year when he scored a spectacular 91 goals.
Messi brings the fear factor into any team, the capacity to create and score at will and leave defences breathless.
HOW THEY WOULD LINE UP: (4-3-1-2)
Iker Casillas (c)
Phillip Lahm Daniel Agger Thiago Silva Gareth Bale
Arjen Robben Yaya Toure David Silva
Lionel Messi Robin van Persie
So there you have it, a truly integrated World XI with several national team captains, 4 different football associations, 9 different clubs, 9 different countries and 3 different continents. A World XI with a global face. One hopes to see a similarly diverse World XI at the next awards.
(Kindly visit my blog: www.footballheaven-samuel.blogspot.com)