Association Football World Best XI (4-5-1 with 7 subs)

by

Lionel Messi

Goalkeeper

Joe Hart – Loads of talent and still more to come.

Defenders

Maicon – If he gets picked over Dani Alves by the national team coach, he must be better.

Gerard Pique – He doesn’t have to defend much against La Liga teams but still is able to avoid complacency. He earns his money in the big games and performs so well you start thinking that maybe he isn’t being overpaid as a defender on a Barcelona team that doesn’t defend much.    

Vincent Kompany – Deserves to be Man City captain. He is a rock solid defender who wears the armband on one sleeve and his heart on the other.

Ashley Cole – A lot of fullbacks are known more for their attacking than their defending but I ask you, how many right wingers have a good day when Cole is in the line-up?

Midfielders

Andres Iniesta – Don’t give him too much space because he is a premier playmaker, but play him too tight and he will beat you with his fancy footwork. You might be able to stop him with a double team, but the ball gets moved about the pitch so fast for club and country that the only way to stop him is voodoo.

David Silva – He has been the best midfielder in the Premier League for a season and a half. He produces the same skill set as Iniesta.

Bastian Schweinsteiger – Playmaking ability, willingness to defend, long shot, and let’s not forget he used to be a winger – so he can dribble as well.

Arjen Robben – Started his career as a left winger, beat defenders by going down the line and got good crosses in. Now he plays on the right side, beats defenders by cutting into the middle, and scores fantastic goals.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Nothing really needs to be said about this decision but let’s have a laugh shall we? Prefers a direct approach to beat defenders rather than the twinkle-toed approach he used as a teenager. He has fancy footwork, speed, strength, and height. Don’t dive in because he will knock the ball past you; don’t stay back because he will shoot unless he feels the need to pick out a pass. He is a threat in the air and makes you wish you could use two goalkeepers to defend against his free kicks.

Forward

Lionel Messi – Or better yet “World Player of the Year Lionel Messi,” dubbed “The squirrel on the telephone wire,” by Ray Hudson. Barcelona saw enough in his talent to fly him and his family into Catalonia from Argentina at the age of 13. Has the rare ability of being able to execute close control dribbling at high speeds. Scores from any angle and is somehow able to beat taller defenders to headers.

Bench

Iker Casillas – The best goalkeeper in Spain. A club like Real Madrid only goes after the best of players. Casillas is a top-class goalkeeper, a top shot blocker, reads aerial balls well, and his distribution is among the best as well.

Wayne Rooney – His teammates don’t even bother to put a foot in to tackle during practice; opposing defenders only do it if they have to. Besides his temperament, he displays great intelligence on the pitch. He will pass the ball before he takes defenders on, off the dribble. He has a hard shot, pace, strength, and is among the best with his leaping ability. Best of all, his willingness to defend says that the team comes first.

Daniel Alves – The only thing stopping him from being the best right back is Maicon.

David Beckham – Let me start off by saying that the only reason he is in Los Angeles is because he chooses to be. Fabio Capello may be the only manager in the world who does not want Becks on his team. What can I say about his ability to kick a ball that hasn’t been said? Get open and he will find you, have a defender on you and he will still find you. His ability to strike the ball is unmatched, and the way the ball curls and hangs in the air during a long pass is breathtaking.

Michael Essien – Has problems with injury but doesn’t skip a beat when he returns to the line-up. He is a tireless midfielder who puts a strong foot into tackles and plays the smart pass on offense.

Robin Van Persie – For years I have said that if he could just stay healthy for more than half of a season, people will be talking about him being the best striker in the world. All I can say is, it’s about time he finds a good spell of health. Like Essien, he comes off injury and doesn’t skip a beat.

Xavi – One of the best playmakers in the world and an integral part of the Barcelona set-up.

Honorable Mention

Manuel Neuer – A top goalkeeper. Bayern Munich’s goals-against average has improved greatly since his entrance – but the arrivals of Jerome Boateng, Rafinha, and Luis Gustavo could also have helped.

Igor Akinfeev – All it takes is a move to a big club to have everybody talking about him being the best in the world. I flirted with the idea of picking him in the top two due to his ability, but decided that honorable mention would be best due to his pedigree.

Sergio Ramos – His movement down the right flank is top-notch and his aerial ability is even better. Defensively he is better that Maicon and Alves.

Kaka – Despite the injuries, nobody wants to defend against him, even though he hasn’t yet peaked in form.

Andres D’Alessandro – Due to his mesmerizing playmaking ability he is my favorite playmaker so he had to make the list.

Gareth Bale – Started his career at left back, converted to left wing, but ever since he caught the eyes of millions during his hat trick against AC Milan, he hasn’t looked interested in playing defense; and we’re not asking him to. Last season he took it upon his own shoulders to lead the team but his newfound willingness to pick up his head and survey the pitch, and not just putting his head down and running at defenders says he means business.

Neymar – Have you seen his goal of the year? If you have any doubts about his talent watch the video.

Photo courtesy of fifa-games.com

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