World Football XI 2012
Off the long run
I haven't done this for a while so thought I'd do one now.
I've gone for 4-3-3 as that is probably the most common formation in world football nowadays - and it is a very attack-minded lineup.
Joe Hart, Manchester City - In my opinion the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment - certainly one who is right on top of his game. His latest performance against Borussia Dortmund to keep Manchester City in their Champions League game was top-notch and another to add to his growing and glowing list of top performances with the gloves for club and country.
Marcelo, Real Madrid - Best left-back in the world right now. Superb going forward and getting better covering the left flank without the ball. Has wonderful technique with his feet too when in front of goal.
Vincent Kompany, Manchester City - Man City's defence has been rocky this season, but Kompany has still been Mr Consistent as he was last season. One of the most respected players in world football at the moment, Kompany is another fine defender to emerge from Belgium and is not too bad with his head in front of goal either.
Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid - Ramos played mostly at right back for club last season but ended up playing every minute of Spain's EURO 2012 campaign at centre back when regular Carlos Puyol was ruled out and did not look at all out of place. In fact, he was so convincing there and one of the reasons behind Spain's success at retaining their European crown. Ramos' future could be at centre back, especially with Puyol's age and recent spate of injuries
Philipp Lahm, Bayern Munich - Germany's captain has been a consistent performer at right back since he blasted on to the scene at the 2006 World Cup. He seems to have been around for years but isn't even 30 - a testament to Germany's new philosophy on young, emerging players. And I'm sure he'll be around for a while yet and be certain to win trophies on an international stage after missing out last season with club and country.
Xavi, Barcelona - Xavi seems to be one of those players who doesn't seem to age - in fact, the older he gets, the better he seems, especially going forward and scoring. He became Spain and Barcelona's rock when Puyol was ruled out and will be for a while yet.
Andres Iniesta, Barcelona - Spain's best player at the tournament, whether he was playing as a makeshift forward or in midfield, and deservedly European Footballer of the Year this season after his heroics at the Euros. Out injured right now for Barca, but should slot in nicely once he returns.
Mesut Ozil, Bayern Munich - Led Real Madrid to La Liga glory last season and was also key in Germany's march to the semifinals. Germany's Turkish delight may only be 23 but he is passing and holding up whichever midfield he's in with aplomb - bad news for the likes of Mario Goetze, Julian Drexler and Sven Bender, who are probably just as good but are only behind because of their age.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid - He may have been melancholic at the start of the season, but he still managed to get at least one hat-trick each in La Liga and in the Champions League. Ronaldo remains his enigmatic self and perhaps should have shocked Portugal's Iberian rivals out of Euro 2012 had they taken their chances in their semifinal. Ronaldo seems to be getting better in Spain's capital and looks set to break a lot of records at the Bernabeu in the near future.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona - What more can be said about the little Argentine maestro? He has broken plenty of records already at the Camp Nou and won all he probably can win there - so what next? Probably winning the World Cup with Argentina would seal his name as one of the greatest footballers ever - he probably needs to do it soon, though question marks still remain over the mercurial Argentina team and the lack of goals he has scored with them.
Robin van Persie, Manchester United - It was going to be either van Persie, Aguero, Rooney or Ibrahimovic. In the end, I went for van Persie on current form; beyond Messi and Ronaldo, only van Persie has been as hot in front of goal, singlehandedly leading Arsenal into the Champions League last season after a disastrous start to the season, and he has continued his hot scoring form with Manchester United, already scoring a hat-trick in the league.
GK - Iker Casillas, Real Madrid - Now an ever-present for club and country and one of the most recognisable footballers in the world; it's hard to believe the still youthful-looking Casillas is in his 30s. Age hasn't dulled his reflexes though and he has made some fine saves for club and country.
DF - Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund - Along with Ramos, Dortmund's star at the back was one of the stars of Euro 2012. Hummels has burst on to the international scene and is now one of the best defenders in the world. He can also play in defensive midfield, but wherever he is, Hummels is critical to allowing Dortmund's young, vibrant midfield to excel.
MF - Sergio Busquets, Barcelona - He can play at the back but mainly plays in defensive midfield. Barcelona and Spain's enforcer is versatile and enables Xavi and Iniesta to move forward.
MF - David Silva, Manchester City - A key artisan for club and country, Silva has emerged ahead of a rather big list of Spanish playmakers, playing in a makeshift forward position at Euro 2012. One of the most entertaining players to watch at the moment.
FW - Wayne Rooney, Manchester United - 10 years after scoring "that" goal against Arsenal for boyhood club Everton, Rooney has become Mr Manchester United and England - his absence left both woefully short in attack. That Manchester United stayed in the title race last season was down to Wayne Rooney's goals and persistence despite one of the weakest midfields in United's history. Mercurial, enigmatic, but definitely world XI material.
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