As the dust settles on the Ballon d'Or award, the debate over whether Cristiano Ronaldo was a worthy choice begins to subside.
Now supporters and the media alike can look towards those who may be in the running next time around.
A good place to start is the FIFA Team of the Year: If someone is considered good enough to be included, they stand a very good chance in the future of being crowned No. 1.
This fictional team consists of a formation and players are selected according to their role. Therefore, the best right-back of the year and the top central midfielder should then be chosen. But it doesn't always work this way, as the positions are adjusted slightly to shoehorn in a number of players of a similar style.
One man who can consider himself fortunate to be involved in this imaginary line-up is Sergio Ramos. No one can take away the defender's ability or even question that he doesn't belong in the same company as the rest of the team, but it can certainly be argued that it wasn't his finest 12 months and there were a number of more suitable candidates.
"We train, we organise ourselves, we define each player’s role, look at the videos to get to know our opponents’ strengths at set pieces, but when you lose individual battles there is no level of organisation that can stop it," said former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho back in February, per the Metro, after Ramos had lost Danny Welbeck from a corner resulting in a goal for Manchester United.
Of course, that comment could be put down to some extent to personal differences, but his current boss, Carlo Ancelotti, thinks, via Marca: "Our defensive organisation has been really good. Ramos has had a great start to 2014, looking strong and focused."
This was the Italian's way of saying that Ramos has made mistakes under his tenure and that he was correcting them through his instruction.
His performances have varied over the period, but in the bigger matches, he hasn't always been that consistent. He played right-back in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Borussia Dortmund which Real lost 4-1, though he did score in the second leg.
This is perhaps where his reputation has aided him. Ramos also scored in a match with Barcelona—it's these moments that have stood out for some rather than erratic defending or questionable positioning.
His lack of discipline has also been a huge hindrance to his club. He picked up two red cards in matches with Rayo Vallecano and Celta Vigo at the start of the year. Of the 20 yellow cards he accumulated in the calendar year, two were against Atletico, two against Barcelona and two against Borussia Dortmund. This illustrates a tendency to get caught out against the better opposition.
The Liga de Futbol Profesional chose their best team of the season so far—granted there is a six-to-eight-week discrepancy in the timescales, but there is no mention of Ramos, per Football Espana.
Both of Dortmund's centre-backs, Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic, could feel aggrieved after reaching the Champions League final.
Bayern Munich were known more for their attacking prowess, but Jerome Boateng was part of the unit which kept successive clean sheets against Barcelona. Giorgio Chiellini of Juventus performed as well as any other defenders when faced with Bayern and was integral to their Serie A victory.
This isn't trying to make out Ramos as some sort of liability; he is without doubt one of the best defenders in world football. It's just simply saying that there were better players in the same position throughout 2013.
Maybe the biggest conclusion that can be drawn is that it wasn't a vintage year for centre-backs.
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