Ranking the 55 Players on the FIFPro World XI Shorlist
The votes have been counted, and the 55-man shortlist has been announced. The FIFPro World XI will be picked up from this shortlist and announced at the FIFA Ballon d’Or in Zurich on January 10th, 2011.
The 50,000 professional footballers affiliated with the players union voted for the best team of their choice in a secret form they are asked to fill out. The results is one of the most awaited awards in the football world.
While many veterans have kept their place, plenty have lost it. Promising youngsters like David Luiz, Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Mario Gomez have too made it into the list.
Over the years the FIFPro World XI has resembled a 4-3-3 formation. In the following slides we will rank the players group-wise as to their chances of landing a place in the World XI. For example, the top-four defenders will be the expected players to make the list from the group of defenders, and the ranking method will be the same for midfielders.
The Man Behind the Post: Goalkeeper
# 5 : Gianluigi Buffon - The 33-year-old Italian goalkeeping legend has been a regular for both club and country. But over the past couple of years he has seen his playing time reduced due to his age as well as injuries. With him still playing, Buffon is a name that will always feature in any list of world-class importance. But given his lack of playing time last season he cannot be expected to win the top spot.
# 4 : Manuel Neuer - The young German international has shown lots of promise already and is touted as a goalkeeping legend in the making. He has been very impressive for the Bavarians but is still far from from making it to the top.
# 3 : Victor Valdes - Many people might reject my ranking of Valdes at No. 3, given the team he plays for as well as his performance. But there is a reason for him being ranked third. He plays for a top-class club alongside world-class footballers, similar to his colleague, Iker Casillas, but his low international appearance makes him go down the pecking order.
# 2 : Edwin Van Der Sar - Manchester United's legendary Dutch goalie retired last season, but his legacy is one that will live forever. The Dutchman was the symbol of stability and determination. He was a regular starter for both club and country until he retired aged 41 years.
He has been named as one of the greatest goalkeepers in football history. But he misses the top rank not for his age or lack of silverware last season but for the reason that in spite of his impressive performance he was second best to Casillas.
# 1 : Iker Casillas - The Real Madrid and Spain first-choice goalkeeper has been making the World XI list for the past three seasons, and this time too he is expected to take the honours. His performances have only improved in the past year, and that combined with a World Cup champions' medal is enough for him to be the first-choice goalie for the fourth time running.
The Great Wall of China: Defenders
# 20 : Rio Ferdinand - The United veteran is still regarded as a defending stalwart around the world, but his performances have been hampered by injuries. The scores of injuries have led to a total lack in form for the former England captain.
# 19 : Alessandro Nesta - The ageing Italian giant is no doubt a top-class defender and had a good year for the Rossonerri, but the old charm is missing. Given he is 35 years old, the loss of aura is understandable.
# 18 : David Luiz - The young and promising Chelsea player has been creating ripples in the football world with his on-field displays. He has the potential to be a top-class defender but has plenty to learn before he makes to the World XI list.
# 17 : Lucio - The 33-year-old Brazilian defending legend has failed to repeat the performances of his first years at Inter Milan. He has been solid but not the one who scared off opposing strikers during Inter's Mourinho era.
# 16 : Pepe - The Real Madrid defender has been very consistent for the Bernabeau giants but still loses out to the best in the business.
# 15 : Carles Puyol - Undoubtedly one of the greatest defenders to have graced the football field, the Barcelona veteran has seen his playing time reduced considerably due to a spate of injuries over the past two seasons. His lack of playing time has dampened his chances to make the World XI.
# 14 : Patrice Evra - Manchester United's legendary left-back has been playing well. The Frenchman has failed to remonstrate his previous performances, though. Yet he has played a big part in helping United maintain their defensive solidarity.
# 13 : John Terry - The Chelsea and England captain has been a symbol of top quality defending over the years. He is considered a defending legend not only by the Chelsea and English faithful but football fans all over the world. But the defending stalwart has failed to match his previous performances. This year might see the Chelsea legend fail to make the World XI, a place he has made his the past five years.
# 12 : Eric Abidal - The 32-year-old French defender has been a mainstay in Pep Guardiola's all-winning squad. Though the world-class defender had to spend some time recovering from a liver tumor, he recovered and fought his way back to the starting lineup.
# 11 : Maicon - Inter Milan's Brazilian right-back has failed to deliver a performance similar to the one that landed him a spot in the FIFPro World XI. He has been stable for the Italian giants but not as impressive as he had been last year.
# 10 : Ricardo Carvalho - The Portuguese's arrival is seen as the sole reason for Real Madrid's defensive solidarity. His excellent performances helped the Spanish giants maintain the best defensive record in the Champions League 2011. He has been forced out of action due to an injury which also weakened his competition for a spot in the World XI.
# 9 : Vincent Kompany - Manchester City's captain is one of those rare breeds of players who remained underated all through their playing career. Perhaps he is one of the most consistent defenders in world football at present. His exploits earned him a place in the Premier League Team of the Year for the 2010-11 season. Another season of impressive form, and no one can deny him a place in the World XI.
# 8 : Thiago Silva - Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva has been one of the top defenders of the Serie A in the past few seasons. His exploits for AC Milan have earned him respect from all around the world as well as garnered interest from other top teams.
# 7 : Nemanja Vidic - The sturdy Manchester United defender has had a great year. He has been United's main man in defense. Definitely a player who should get a place in the World XI.
# 6 : Phillip Lahm - Presently considered one of the best full-backs in the world, the Bayern Munich and Germany national team captain has been very impressive for both club and country.
# 5 : Marcelo - Presently considered one of the best full-backs in the world, Real Madrid's Brazilian defender Marcelo has been on a roller-coaster ride of fine form. He loses out in the spot only for the sole reason he is competing against the likes of Ashley Cole for a left-back position.
# 4 : Sergio Ramos - The Real Madrid right-back has been top class for both his club as well as his country and certainly deserves a spot in the World XI. He has become the defensive mainstay for his national team as well as the Galacticos.
# 3 : Ashley Cole - Chelsea's scandal friendly left-back has been one of the top performers in the Premier League. His ability to stop opposition attacking moves as well as his use of pace and skill to create counter attacking charges makes him deserving of a World XI spot.
# 2 : Gerard Pique - The 24-year-old Spaniard has been in sensational form since his arrival from Manchester United three years ago. His world-class performances have helped him make the centre-back position his own both in the club as well for the national team. A deserving player for a place in the World XI.
# 1 : Dani Alves - Twenty assists from a right-back in a single season just defines the quality that is Dani Alves. Barcelona's defensive mainstay has been in top form over the past few seasons. The 28-year-old Brazilian defender has been instrumental in Barcelona's top form over the past few years. He undoubtedly makes it to the list of the World XI.
A Few Creative Men: Midfielders
# 15 : Gareth Bale - He's on this list for his previous year's exploits for Tottenham but has a long way to go yet to seal a top-three spot.
# 14 : Kaka - The Brazilian star has been unable to live up to his former self which can be attributed to his nagging injury problems.
# 13 : Andrea Pirlo - The Italian midfielder is regarded as one of the best of his generation, but his time has passed on. The 32-year-old is a shadow of his previous self. He could make do with some promising youngsters.
# 12 : Bastian Schweinsteiger - The German international and Bayern Munich midfielder has been in good form for both country and club of late but lacks the level of performance to guarantee himself a place on this team.
# 11 : Cesc Fabregas - Arsenal's captain made his long awaited return to his boyhood club Barcelona after a season of injury and anguish. He failed to impress much and also lost out his place in the World Cup-winning Spain squad.
# 10 : Nani - Manchester United's promising Portuguese midfielder had been touted to fill in Cristiano Ronaldo's empty boots at Old Trafford. He has shown plenty of promise but is yet to affirm it completely.
# 9 : Mesut Ozil - Real Madrid's expensive signing has been impressive since his switch from Germany. The German international has been pretty impressive going forward and creating chances for both club and country.
# 8 : Yaya Toure - The Manchester City player has been in top form since his arrival from Camp Nou. His performances for his own club as well as his country make him eligible for a place in the World XI.
# 7 : Xabi Alonso - The former Liverpool man has blossomed since his move away from Anfield and continues growing with each passing season.
# 6 : Wesley Sneijder - The Dutchman has failed to recreate his earlier magics but nonetheless deserves a place here in the list.
# 5 : David Silva - The Spanish World Cup champion has been impressive for both his country and his newly joined club Manchester City.
# 4 : Frank Lampard - He spent the previous season out injured for four months, yet his impressive 13 goals for Chelsea and performance give him a spot in this list. Moreover, his exploits for his national team were also quite good.
# 3 : Andres Iniesta - The Barcelona and Spanish playmaker has been sensational since his arrival at Camp Nou. His exploits for the national team in the 2010 FIFA World Cup just underlined his genius—an obvious choice for the World XI.
# 2 : Sergio Busquets - The promising youngster and Spanish international has already started creating waves in the football world with his on-field exploits. Another superb performance and he gets his place in the World XI undoubtedly.
# 1 : Xavi - The Spanish star has been making the World XI for the past three years, and this time too he won't be missing the bus.
The Hitmen: Forwards
# 15 : Edinson Cavani - The promising Uruguayan youngster has become the most sought after kid on the block for his exploits for both Napoli and the national team. A few more good seasons and his name will be shining on the list of World XI.
# 14 : Radamel Falcao - Athletico Madrid's new signing has attracted attention from top European clubs for his performances with former club Porto. The Colombian international is only 25 years old and has plenty of time to become a football legend.
# 13 : Luis Suarez - Liverpool's prized catch might not have been so impressive for his new club Liverpool, but his contribution cannot be denied. He also helped his club reach the semifinals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup with his performances as well as his antics.
# 12 : Karim Benzema - The 23-year-old Frenchman is presently regarded as one of the coveted gems in the world football scene. Real Madrid's prized asset saw his chance to play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup vanish due to his involvement in a sex scandal but still has time to live up to his potential.
# 11 : Mario Gomez - Bayern Munich's much-wanted forward has been in sensational form since last year which has prompted a mad rush to get his signature. Though he is second choice for the national team, in a few years he can become the only choice.
# 10 : Didier Drogba - Chelsea's Ivorian hitman had started last season in blistering form but then his goals dried up, and he failed to make any significant impact on the pitch. In the new season the big Ivorian has failed to live up to his level.
# 9 : Neymar - Presently the Brazilian youngster is the world's most coveted and hottest prospect. Several European clubs are vying for his signature after two seasons of thrilling displays propelled him to the top of the best list.
# 8 : Robin van Persie - Arsenal's Dutch forward has been in top gear in the new season. He has looked like his old self that had been shadowed by a spate of injuries over the past few seasons. He could have made it higher in the rankings, but last season was not particularly nice for him.
# 7 : Wayne Rooney : The Englishman has had a bad time since last year when he lost his form, got caught in a scandal and even planned on leaving United. Since then he has vowed to stay at Old Trafford and got back to his coring ways, but he still has lot to prove his critics wrong.
# 6 : Sergio Aguero - The ex-Athletico Madrid man was a pivotal figure for his former club's impressive performances last season. His on-field exploits attracted interest from top English clubs with high-spending Manchester City finally being able to land him in a big-money move.
# 5 : Samuel Eto' - The fiery Cameroonian became the highest paid player in the world after signing for Russian side Anzhi Makachkala. He had a blistering form while at Inter last season, scoring 37 goals, which was a personal record for him.
# 4 : David Villa - A blistering goal-scoring form for club and country along with a World Cup champions medal makes him no doubt a big contender for filling up the spot in front of opposition goal.
# 3 : Zlatan Ibrahimovic - The Barcelona discard has proved that even the best of teams can fail to gauge a players's quality. Since his move to AC Milan at a nominal fee the big Swede has been nothing short of sensational. He has been on a goal-scoring rampage ever since his move back to Italy. His exploits definitely make him a strong contender for a World XI spot.
# 2 : Cristiano Ronaldo - Maybe if he had been born in a different era he could have become the world's best player undoubtedly, but his luck failed him as he had to compete with a tiny god named Messi. Such is his luck that he is always to come second because the player he competes against is God's own creation for football.
# 1 : Lionel Messi - There is no list in football news appreciating players where Messi does not adorn the headline act. Be it from world's best players to best striker to a place in the World XI, the timid Argentine is a staple.