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Does La Liga really justify such domination?

Lionel Messi’s fourth successive FIFA Ballon d’Or dominated the headlines this morning, but the results of the FIFA/FIFPro World XI is far more of a talking point. All eleven players selected ply their trade in La Liga, with 10 representing either Barcelona or Real Madrid.

while the majority of them are worthy of their place in the team, some players have been scandalously omitted.

fifproxi e1357657579284 Does La Liga really justify such domination?

The 2012 FIFPro XI

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas

Iker Casillas is an understandable choice in goal given the fact he has won both the La Liga title with Real Madrid and Euro 2012 with Spain. He remains the most consistent, respected goalkeeper in world football and the one others aspire to match.

Gianluigi Buffon and Joe Hart also enjoyed excellent years, with domestic success for both. If Italy had defeated Spain in the Euro 2012 final Buffon may have had the edge over Casillas.

Full Backs: Dani Alves & Marcelo

While it is hard to argue against Dani Alves being voted the best right back in the world, the choice of Marcelo at left back seems questionable.

While the Brazilian may have won La Liga, Ashley Cole is a more deserving choice considering his magnificent displays in Chelsea’s march to Champions League glory. His performances in the semi-final against Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the final, in particular, were as resolute and impressive as any by a full-back over the last few years.

For a player widely seen as the best in the world in his position, it seems a travesty that he didn’t make the side.

cole Does La Liga really justify such domination?

Centre Back: Sergio Ramos & Gerard Pique

At centre-back Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique were again an obvious choices given their success for Spain, but the exclusion of Vincent Kompany seems harsh. While Kompany was an almost ever-present in Manchester City’s memorable Premier League triumph, Pique played just 22 times for Barcelona and didn’t perform to his usual high standards.

Kompany was a colossus all season and, as captain, was the inspiration and symbol of the entire football club.

With all due respect to Pique, who is a wonderful player, he did far less in 2012 than a number of defenders, not just Kompany. John Terry won the Champions League, Giorgio Chellini was inspirational for Juventus and Italy and Pepe was outstanding alongside Ramos for Madrid.

On his day the Barcelona man is the best in the world in his position, but this has not been his greatest year.

kompany Does La Liga really justify such domination?

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso, Xavi & Andres Iniesta

While there is no doubting the remarkable ability and achievements of the trio of Spaniards in midfield – Xabi Alonso, Xavi and Andres Iniesta – it seems an absolute travesty that Andrea Pirlo failed to make the cut.

The 33 year old Italian playmaker won both the Serie A title and Player of the Year award with Juventus, before lighting up Euro 2012 with a string of sublime displays, culminating in Italy reaching the final.

While the three Spaniards, Iniesta in particular, were terrific in the tournament, Pirlo carried his team at times and was playing with far inferior players. Had he been playing for Spain he would’ve walked into this years World XI.

Yaya Toure deserves a mention for his magnificent efforts for Manchester City while Bastian Schweinsteiger was a major influence in both Bayern Munich and Germany reaching the Champions League and Euro 2012 finals, respectively.

pirlo Does La Liga really justify such domination?

Forwards: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo & Radamel Falcao

In attack, the inclusion of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are so unsurprising and deserved it’s not even worth mentioning, but does Radamel Falcao deserve the nod ahead of Robin Van Persie?

While the Colombian’s goalscoring exploits over the past 12 months have made him the most sought-after number nine on the planet, Van Persie has been better. He almost single handedly got Arsenal into this seasons Champions League, winning the PFA Player of the Year award in the process, and his form since his arrival at Old Trafford has been equally phenomenal.

When someone’s performances are leading to Manchester United being dubbed a ‘one man team’ you know he must be a special player. Van Persie is just that.

It could even be argued that the likes of Sergio Aguero, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain should be ahead of Falcao in the pecking order, given their goals and league success.

rvp Does La Liga really justify such domination?

Ultimately, this team has been voted for by 50,000 fellow professionals so there can be no talk of any FIFA bias against the Premier League, but the pure theatre and drama that Barcelona and Real Madrid conjure up both on and off the pitch does seem to cloud many players judgements.

While there is no doubting that these eleven players are all world-class talents, there are others more deserving of it away from the glitz and glamour of La Liga.

Who would you have in your World XI for 2012?


Follow me on Twitter: @henryjackson87

Comments (10)

  1. An excellent piece, Henry. Succinct, thoughtful analysis of those omitted from the 11. One of the best pieces I’ve read on the topic today.

  2. I guess Pique and Ramos are there because of the Euros, where they were excellent. I think that’s a decent choice.

    I’d replace Marcelo with Jordi Alba, not Ashley Cole.

    Lahm instead of Alves?

    Maybe Pirlo instead of Xavi, legend though Xavi is.

    I don’t think there’s anything between Van Persie and Falcao. It’s pretty much a toss up on the stats. I guess Falcao’s there because he won something.

    Maybe Buffon in goal, maybe not.

  3. a true piece.vry good

  4. Buffon over Casillas, he had a better overall season (although Casillas won more).

    Coin flip between Cavani and Falcao. RvP can be there next season after he’s fired United to their 20th league title.

  5. I think the Spanish domination is mostly justified.

    Falcao above RVP in particular is justified. Falcao’s ridiculous goalscoring were pretty much the only reason Chelsea and Bielsa’s Bilbao (who in turn knocked out Man Utd) were beaten and that Atleti even made it that far in competiion. RVP is a great striker, but he’s getting overrated now for making the difference in tight wins for a team that made it to the CL final without him 2 years ago. RVP’s terrible Euro performance has to be considered too.

    Aguero, Higuain, and Benzema aren’t even reliable starters for their clubs, so why would they be considered starters for FifPro?

    There’s a case for Marcelo losing best LB to Phillip Lahm, but not to Cole (or Alba :D ). Cole had brilliant performances in the 3 matches that mattered most to Chelsea’s ’12 season, but he gets caught out a lot in the EPL.

    On the midfielders, I think Xavi should have been replaced by Yaya Toure. Toure & Kompany were City’s best players last year, and Toure and Aguero are the only 2 City players who have done well internationally during the time too. Pirlo was underrated coming into the Euro’s, and then following 2 good matches he became overrated.

    Kompany at his peak is probably as good as Ramos & Pique, but he’s only been at his peak for 3/4 of a season and crappy since then.

    “5000 professionals” doesn’t mean unbiased. It’s called the FIFA Balon D’Or but there’s a clear European bias, then a bias towards the more televised leagues (though these leagues tend to be better), and finally the most reputed teams. Just 2 years ago we had the Balon D’Or finalists being 3 Barca players despite the fact the Sneijder was the key man in upsetting both Barcelona & Brazil in the CL & WC.

    • Agree re: Sneijder in 2010, he deserved the award. Think it’s harsh saying Pirlo became overrated, he was superb in the Euro’s. Benzema/Higuain chop and change but Aguero is number one striker at City. As good as Falcao and Cavani personally. Likewise, even as a Liverpool fan, RVP is not being overrated at the moment. He is virtually carrying United by himself and if he was at City they would be top by 7 points.

      • Pirlo is a world-clas DLP, and his different roles for Juve & Italy prove his versatility. But the scene which has become popular in the press is his ‘cheeky’ penalty against England rather than incisive playmaking…

  6. For most part I agree with you but for the dismissal of Falcao’s placing. Carrying Atletico Madrid to a Europa League and a European Super League title…he is also the reason Atletico is ahead of Real Madrid in what is usually a Barcelona vs Real Madrid league.

  7. My eleven are Casillas 4 la liga n euro, gorgio chellini 4 eruo final n seria A unbeaten run, ashly cole 4 champions league, sorgio ramos 4 la liga n euro, gerald pique 4 euro n cop d ray, xabi alonso 4 la liga n euro, xavi hanandez 4 cop d ray n euro, andreas iniesta 4 cop d ray n euro, christiano ronaldo 4 la liga n a record of scoring against all his opponents during an entire season, lionel messi 4 an incredible 91 goals in a calender year n cop d ray, ramadel falcao 4 europa league n euro super cup. Pirlo should be there but no chance