Many thanks to Amin from www.ToKnowTheGame.com for submitting this guest post looking at their take on the “Team of the Year”
To Know The Game (TKTG) is a unique portal which combines the best football news & analysis from around the web with the insights & opinions of its panel of contributors: Omer, Amin, Asfand, Humaid & Salman.
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UEFA.com’s Team of the Year nominees have been finalized and voting is under way. We at TKTG have decided to cast our vote too by coming up with our own best XI. We first went through the list of nominees for each position, and then the opinion of each TKTG author on what formation to play, and the XI they would use. Finally, we combined it all to come up with a TKTG UEFA.com TOTY.
Here’s what we came up with..
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas; Gianluigi Buffon; Petr Cech; Manuel Neuer
Defenders: Andrea Barzagli; Ashley Cole; Mats Hummels; Branislav Ivanovic; Jordi Alba; Vincent Kompany; Phillip Lahm; Javier Mascherano; Pepe; Gerard Pique; Sergio Ramos; Thiago Silva
Midfielders: Xabi Alonso; J Błaszczykowski; Eden Hazard; Andres Iniesta; Juan Mata; Claudio Marchisio; Mesut Ozil; Andrea Pirlo; Marco Reus; David Silva; Yaya Toure; Xavi
Forwards: Sergio Aguero; Burak Yilmaz; Edinson Cavani; Didier Drogba; Falcao; Mario Gomez; Huntelaar; Ibrahimovic; Lewandowski; Messi; Cristiano Ronaldo; Robin van Persie
Check out the entire list of nominee’s and their 2012 stats here.
The TKTG UEFA.COM TEAM of the Year
With all the talent present in the list of nominees, the selection process was almost entirely controversy-free. Of the 40 nominees, only 21 received votes from our panel of 5, and 8 of our final XI received at least 4 votes (with 5 being unanimous).
Keeping in mind that UEFA.COM has only 5-3-2, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 as possible formations, and that the team selected would be the best players voted in each line (def, mid, fwd) as opposed to a starting XI, the final TKTG XI is a balanced one and, we feel, one that accurately represents 11 of the best players of 2012 (in Europe anyway).
Iker Casillas (4 votes)
Sometimes the numbers don’t do justice to a player’s contribution to a team. Take Casillas for example. He is not statistically the best of the nominees in any category above, bar games played. However it is impossible to look past his contribution as a leader and as a last line of defence for both club and country. Captaining Real to La Liga, and then sitting down with Puyol and Xavi to ensure that La Roja were united, before captaining them to a second consecutive European Championship. – Humaid
Sergio Ramos (5 votes – unanimous)
Over the last 12 months, Ramos has cemented his place in the Real Madrid back-line and its easy to see why. He’s patched up his differences with club manager, Mourinho, and his performances last year displayed his true potential and talent. Not only was he brilliant for Madrid in their title-winning campaign, he also played a massive role for Spain in their success at the Euros last year. He is on the verge of completing 100 caps for Spain, which is a phenomenal achievement for the 27-year old. – Amin
Vincent Kompany (4 votes)
Kompany was the rock at the heart of the Man City defense that led to them pipping Man Utd to the Premier League title (not to mention he scored the sole goal in second clash of Manchester last season to help City get ahead of United with two games to spare). – Salman
Mats Hummels (3 votes)
Mats Hummels rounds up my defence. Strong in the air, on the ground and with the ball at his feet, Hummels has been key to Dortmund’s recent success, both domestically and in Europe. He also played every single minute of Germany’s games at Euro 2012, helping them reach the semi-finals. – Humaid
Yaya Toure (5 votes – unanimous)
Another relentless midfielder, Yaya Toure, has been chosen for his box-to-box prowess. This year, the Ivorian’s strength on and off the ball is what has allowed him to succeed in both a deeper and advanced role, depending on the what the situation requires. It is scary to think of how much more the Manchester City talisman can improve in 2013. – Asfand
Andres Iniesta (4 votes)
No midfield can be complete without Andres Iniesta, one of the most gifted and composed dribbling midfielders of the modern game. The Spaniard contributed immensely towards his national side’s victory in Euro 2012 in addition to Barcelona’s triumph in the Spanish Cup. Clearly, it is no surprise that Iniesta is a finalist for the Ballon d’Or for the second time in three years. – Asfand
Andrea Pirlo (4 votes)
What were Milan thinking when they let him go? Not only was Pirlo the lynchpin of the Juventus midfield, as they won the Scudetto, he single-handedly led Italy to the finals of the Euros last summer. Probably one of the most complete midfielders in Europe right now, Pirlo has been absolutely sensational this year. – Amin
Mesut Ozil (2 votes – selected in vote-off)
Joining Iniesta in the middle of the park is the player with more assists than any other nominee and one who plays in a style reminiscent of the great Zidane. Mesut Ozil has created goals galore for both club and country, and has been key to unlocking the tightest of defences. – Humaid
Radamel Falcao (2 votes – selected in vote-off)
Behind only Messi in chance conversion rates, Falcao is the reason Atletico Madrid are Europa League champions and the reason Chelsea were dismantled in the European Super Cup. His goal scoring has also ensured that Atletico end 2012 in 2nd place in La Liga, ahead of Real Madrid. He is, quite simply, the best number 9 in the world. – Humaid
Cristiano Ronaldo (5 votes – unanimous)
Ronaldo’s tally of 46 league goals and 60 in all competitions helped Real Madrid win the La Liga ahead of arch-rivals Barcelona. He became the only player to have scored against every La Liga team in a single season. All in all, as an individual Ronaldo probably had the best season of any player in Europe. – Salman
Lionel Messi (5 votes – unanimous)
91 goals in a calendar year. This calendar year. In the final 3 for the Ballon d’Or. Leo Messi is a no-brainer. Forget about the fact that he averages over a goal and a quarter a game. That he has the best conversion rate. That he has more assists than any nominee bar Ozil. He is just a joy to watch. That alone would get him on my team. The numbers should make sure he gets on each and every one else’s. – Humaid
So here we have it. The TKTG UEFA.COM Team of the Year:
Ramos – Hummels – Kompany
Ozil – Pirlo – Toure – Iniesta
Messi – Falcao – Ronaldo
To check out the final vote count in our TKTG TOTY author poll, click here.
You can also view all our authors’ picks for their respective XIs and their thoughts behind each selection (bar Omer who is on vacation but who took the time to share his XI with us).
What do you think? Did we select the best XI? Who would you have selected? Please share your comments with us via Twitter and on the TKTG Facebook Page.
You can vote for your own team of the year at the following link en.toty.uefa.com