The UEFA 2016 team of the year was dominated by La Liga BBVA stars; Champions League-winning side Real Madrid made up more than a third of the squad.
If the world was to face an outrageous extra-terrestrial football team today, what players would you choose to have on your staring XI?
Karl Frey’s World XI
I have gone for a 4-2-3-1 formation, which I believe accommodates the perfect balance of attacking and defensive talent.
Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer
In goal it was a very easy decision. For me, Manuel Neuer is the best goal keeper of this generation. Some might argue that De Gea is a better shot stopper and others will tell you that the experienced Buffón is better at organising his backline. Whatever. Neuer is the simply world’s most complete goalkeeper.
Centre Backs: Diego Godin and Matts Hummels
As a centre back pairing I have chosen Diego Godin and Matts Hummels. Defensively, these are a class above Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique. I am willing to make a bold claim in saying that Godin is the best centre back I have seen since the likes of Fabio Cannavaro and Carles Puyol at their peaks. The Uruguayan captain is the keystone of the Atletico Madrid back line; one that never seems to underperform. Hummels has shown his consistent quality throughout his years at Dortmund, Bayern Munich and with the German national side.
Left Back: David Alaba
As my left back I have gone for David Alaba. The Austrian is arguably the most polyvalent player in today’s game, also playing at centre back, holding midfield and left wing. However, this may now change after Pablo Zabaleta proved to be unstoppable at a central midfield position against West Ham in the FA Cup tie last week.
Right Back: Serge Aurier
As my right back I have chosen an underdog. In my opinion, football currently lacks a world class right back. As Dani Alves’ and Philip Lahm’s careers are coming to an end, Serge Aurier has emerged as a growing talent. I am a big fan of full backs that play with a lot of freedom and don’t hesitate to move forward. And that is exactly what the PSG right back provides to my unstoppable XI. In my opinion, Jerome Boateng is too slow to cover that position.
Centre Mids: Marco Verratti and Sergio Busquets
My Centre Mid pairing consists of Marco Verratti and Sergio Busquets. The defensive mid-fielders have incredible passing abilities with a pass completion rate of 90% and 92 per cent respectively this season. The turning point in Verratti’s career came when former PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti scout- ed the Italian at Serie B side Pescara in 2012. Ancelotti fell in love with him and Verratti has been crucial to the success of PSG since. Sergio Busquets has been the first name on the team sheet for 7 consecutive years, of one of the greatest teams in the history of football. That’s all that needs to be said.
Wingers and no.10: Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi:
Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann and Leo Messi appear on both my team and the UEFA 2016 squad. Can’t argue with that. The FIFA Ballon d’Or finalists bring out the beauty of modern football like few others in the game.
Attacker: Luis Suarez
As my (all out) striker I have chosen Luis Suarez. I am still highly perplexed about his absence in the UEFA 2016. In the 2015/2016 season, the Uruguayan scored 53 goals (including 7 hat-tricks) and provided 21 assists in only 49 games for FCBarcelona. If that’s not world class I don’t know what is.
Charlie Gould’s World XI
I have opted for a 3-4-3 formation. This formation is the new fashion item in football. Popularised in Italy by Juventus, it has now been brought over to the Premiership by Conte who has transformed Chelsea into easily the best team in the league. The formation allows a team to both de- fend solidly with five defenders and then break forward with more numbers than most other formations allow.
Goalkeeper: de Gea
De Gea has become the best goalkeeper in the world, almost singlehandedly keeping Manchester United within the top six over the last couple of seasons.He is good with his feet which has become extremely important for goalkeepers in the modern game.
Winner of the Champions League and the Euro’s last year Pepe has matured like a fine wine from a hot-head defender who could not be relied upon into a passionate, reliable centre-back.
The captain and leader of Atletico Madrid, a team that has recently broken through the duo- poly of Spanish football and have now reached two champions league finals in three years. He is unbeatable in the air and has a cool, calm person both on and off the field.
Despite being sat down by Messi in the Champions League semi-final, Boateng has become Bayern Munich’s main man in defence as Lahm has grown older. Solid in the air and on the ground, Boateng is physically strong and not often pushed off the ball.
This Belgian wizard can cast spells onto any defence. After a disappointing season last year, he has been rejuvenated under Conte and is one of the key reasons Chelsea have equalled the longest winning streak in a Premiership season.
Outstanding vision and passing ability are what truly define this Croatian playmaker. At Real Madrid, he has become a versatile player who can calmly bring the ball out of defence and into attack.
The most underrated man in football, this running man was the stand-out star of 2016 for me. After winning the Premiership with Leicester it is no surprise that since his move to Chelsea they are now top of the table.
After an amazing season with Juventus, Pogba became the most expensive player in the world when United bought him for £89m. Pogba has shown during the Euro’s, and recently for Manchester United, that on top form he is virtually unstoppable.
What is there to be say? He is the best player in the world now and maybe ever! He glides around the pitch, can nutmeg a mermaid and his goal scoring record needs to be seen to be believed.
For me the best out and out striker in the world right now. He scored the most league goals in 2016 and recorded the most league assists showing that he can do far more than just aim and shoot.
The perfect athlete, Ronaldo deserved his Ballon D’or this year by guiding Real Madrid to the Champions League title and then winning the European Championship with Portugal. It has been eight years since Ronaldo’s first Ballon d’Or, exemplifying his incredible longevity at the top of his game.