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Teams of the Year – World XI

January 10, 2011

Deciding who should make the world’s best team of 2010 is a pretty tough task. Knowing that we might not do the job justice, The First Eleven decided against doing the job ourselves and instead got someone else in to cover. Completing our Teams of the Year series, we welcome Andrew Gibney of the Gibfootballshow to take us through his World XI of 2010.

There is nothing harder than trying to cast your mind back over the last twelve months and try to not just pick out eleven players, but to put arrange them into a functioning working team that would do them all justice out on the pitch. Here goes…

Goalkeeper: #1 Joe Hart

Starting the year on loan at Alex McLeish’s Birmingham City Joe quickly made a reputation for himself as one of the best young goalkeepers not just in England but throughout Europe. His great form earned him a place in England’s 23 man squad for the World Cup, after some uninspiring performances from Rob Green and David James there were calls for Hart to get a chance in the #1 spot for his country. Of course he didn’t and we all know what happened in South Africa. Hart returned to City and stole the starting spot from Shay Given, and against Spurs on the opening day of the season he showed everyone why he was given that chance. A wonderful keeper with a great future.

Left-back: #2 Fabio Coentrao

I will happily admit that before the World Cup Fabio was unknown to me; last season my concentration was elsewhere so keeping up with talents throughout Europe was a losing task. However it did give me the opportunity to watch Fabio light up the stadia in South Africa with some fantastic performances. Making many Team of the Tournament selections it was clear Fabio was a huge talent. His form continued over to his performances with Benfica, the hat-trick against Lyon a particular favourite highlight. It can’t be long now till Coentrao is piling his trade at one of Europe’s elite. Wherever he goes I expect him to be a success.

Centre-half: #3 Gerald Pique

After seeing him come through at Manchester United and on loan at Zaragoza it has been a pleasure to watch Gerald move back to his boyhood club and become probably the best central defender in the World. He had some tremendous performances for Barcelona as they won the league and got to the Champions League semi-final. Then he was imperious as Spain marched on to lift the World Cup. His form has continued on and beside Puyol he is just getting better and better, I can envision his name on this list for the next few seasons.

Centre-half: #4 Lucio

So close to picking Nemanja Vidic in this position, then I thought of Lucio performing so well in Inter Milan’s charge to an unprecedented treble last season. Under Jose Mourinho Lucio learned to temper his marauding runs forward and began to use them sparingly but effectively. This new-found maturity also improved him as a defender and made his performances improve for his national team. Since Rafa Benitez has taken over his performance levels have dropped but that shouldn’t take away from the superb year he had.

Right-back: #5 Daniel Alves

If Maicon didn’t exist Alves would have surely played at right back for Brazil in the World Cup, he did make some cameos but nothing that showed the ability he has been wooing Barcelona fans with all of 2010. An engine that never gives up, the quality of his final ball is improving and his understanding with Leo Messi has become near telepathic. Questions were asked about Barca’s ability to defeat Jose’s Real Madrid this year and Alves has helped answer that question emphatically.

Defensive midfielder: #6 Sergio Busquets

This is where it gets tough, six positions left and countless number of fantastic players all vying for the remaining spots. We need someone to anchor the midfield to help the attackers go forward. Who better than Barcelona’s anchor Sergio Busquets, still doesn’t quite get the plaudits he deserves, great defensive attributes combined with a calmness and composure on the ball, he is the catalyst of his club and country and doesn’t look out-of-place with the likes of Xavi and Iniesta.

Central midfielder: #7 Xavi

It feels so bad to leave Bastian Schweinsteiger out of any XI but there is no way I could leave out the mercurial pass-master that is Xavi Fernandez. What can be said that hasn’t been said already? Xavi is the epitome of everything that is right and good about football. Johan Cruyff may have invented Tiki-Taka football, Xavi has taken the reigns and made it a reality, and I hope there are kids all over Spain hoping they can be the new Xavi.

Central midfielder: #8 Andres Iniesta

I should have really just called this Barcelona + Friends XI. The Catalan club have been superb in 2010 and with Spain winning the World Cup it’s hard to look past them. Iniesta used to be labelled the new Xavi however the pale-faced assassin has created a role all to himself, he plays of Xavi so well, has more of an attacking spark than Xavi does and is so versatile he can play any position his team needs him to. A wonderful player to watch, he deserved to score Spain’s winning goal.

Left forward: #9 Diego Forlan

After leading his club side to the Europa League many would have said what a fantastic year for the Uruguayan. He wasn’t finished though, leading his national side to the World Cup semi-finals he found his scoring touch, two goals against South Africa and then a goal and superb performance against Ghana raised his profile, goals against the Netherlands and Germany were enough to led FIFA to honour Diego with the Golden Ball and status as player of the tournament. At 31 you could call it an Indian summer.

Right forward: #10 Thomas Muller

Promotion to the first team, thirteen goals and a Bundesliga winner’s medal, it was not a bad year for Thomas Muller. The 21-year-old wasn’t finished though. Not only was he given a place in Jogi Low’s 23 man World Cup squad, he was given a starting spot. Boy did he not disappoint. Scoring a great goal in the opening game must have calmed his nerves; he followed that up with a superb performance against England and the opening goal against Argentina to see Germany reach the semi-finals. Great control with the ball, the ability to finish makes him such a dangerous player.

Centre forward: #11 Lionel Messi

If you had told me three years ago I’d be picking Leo Messi to be the centre forward in my team of the year I would not have believed you, Barcelona’s Total Football style is led to little Leo becoming the spearhead of his clubs attacks, the movement and style of Barcelona see’s him drift and find space. His form has been outstanding scoring over 60 goals in 2010 there is no other player near his ability as we move into 2011.

2010 World XI Team of the Year

Do you agree or disagree with Andrew’s all-conquering selection for the best in the world? Let us know below.

You can follow the Gibfootballshow on Twitter @Gibfootballshow and also read his excellent Gibfootballshow blog and listen to the brilliant podcast.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2011 9:06 pm

    Probably wouldn’t have picked Muller or Busquets – although both are very fine players. Cristiano Ronaldo would have been my right-sided player and Schweinsteiger instead of Busquets.

    Pretty good XI, mind you.


    • January 10, 2011 9:19 pm

      Yeah it is hard to leave out Ronaldo but I just thought Muller had a great year even without his World Cup and wanted to give him a bit of credit.

      Schweni was my choice on the pod World XI but was swayed to picking Busquets since it was a more attacking front line if it was 4-2-3-1 I would have probably picked Schweni.

      Thanks for the comments Rob

  2. January 10, 2011 9:07 pm

    Nice post, Andrew. Some selections I don’t agree with, though.

    Left Back – I think Ashley Cole has had an outstanding 2010. A key part of the Chelsea double-winning team and pretty much the only player to keep his reputation intact while England faltered at the World Cup and as Chelsea falter now. Fantastic player who had a superb year.

    Centre Mid – I don’t think Busquets deserves to make this team. Yes he may be a good player but he only makes this team because he is at Barcelona with the two players he has alongside him. They allow him to perform his role with relative ease. As such I feel as though leaving out players like Ozil or Sneijder is unfair as they had more noteworthy years and thus could have made the team, even though the formation may not have worked in reality with a midfield three of Xavi, Iniesta and Sneijder/Ozil.

    Right Forward – It may be boring but I think you have to give it Ronaldo. I appreciate you have awarded it to someone different but, ultimately, his stats or performances do not match those of Ronaldo.

    Nevertheless, good piece. Differences in opinions is what this sort of thing is all about!

  3. January 10, 2011 9:33 pm

    Oh, and Casillas over Hart…


  4. January 11, 2011 8:59 am

    Interesting that none of us are arguing for Villa ahead of Forlan – don’t think you can leave Big Diego out, as it happens, but what does Villa have to do for us to acknowledge him.

    He’d be a cracking impact sub, mind you.

  5. Frazer Lloyd-Davies permalink
    January 12, 2011 8:49 pm

    Nice post but I think it lacks Wesley Sneijder and David Villa – both were brilliant last year. Worrying to see no Englishman. Not that any deserve to be in there.


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