Picking a World Football Flair XI: Neymar, Ronaldo and Iniesta Star

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 7, 2014

Picking a World Football Flair XI: Neymar, Ronaldo and Iniesta Star

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    We've picked a world football best XI based solely on the flair in players' boots.

    Forget defensive nous, tactical capacity and elite positioning for now; we want stepovers, tricks, turns, speed and sublime passing skills.

    We've constructed a top-heavy 4-2-3-1 formation full of attacking intent, ready to run rings around any opponent and wow the crowd. Take a look!

GK: Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich

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    It's tough to find a flair goalkeeper, as 99 percent of them stick to their task of stopping goals.

    Manuel Neuer, though, is more than just a shot-stopper. He's so confident with his feet that he stands on the halfway line when his team need to press for a late goal, has been known to take on opponents and passes as assuredly as Xavi.

    It may not be long before Marc-Andre ter Stegen emulates him.

RB: Gokhan Gonul, Fenerbahce

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    Dani Alves was a major contender amid a slim talent pool here, but we've opted for the electric Gokhan Gonul.

    The 28-year-old, who plies his trade for Fenerbahce, is an offensive battering ram roaming forward, and he combines great feet, wonderful poise and immense trickery to get the better of his opponents.

CB: David Luiz, Chelsea

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    "David Luiz runs around the pitch as if controlled by a 10-year-old in the stands with a PlayStation controller," were the words Gary Neville used to describe Chelsea's favoured son, per Sambafoot.

    It created a lot of controversy, and Neville apologised, but the fact remains that Luiz does as he wants, when he wants.

    He's more suited to a midfield role where he can stretch his legs, according to most. But in fairness, he did a magnificent job in central defence during the 2013 Confederations Cup.

CB: Vlad Chiriches, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Skip to 1:30 in the highlight reel, and you will see a move that surely made Andre Villas-Boas' stomach drop to the floor.

    Vlad Chiriches is not obviously flamboyant, but he commands his defensive line and plays with such calmness that you'd think at times he's sailing gently down a river on his favourite yacht, not playing a billion-dollar game.

LB: Guilherme Siqueira, Benfica

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    Guilherme Siqueira has made quite the name for himself as a goalscoring left-back in recent years.

    He was excellent offensively for Granada throughout the 2012-13 season but lacked any form of defensive awareness, and many were blinded by his fancy feet, agility and ingenuity.

    Luckily, our XI has absolutely no time for defensive ability. Only stepovers.

CM: Andres Iniesta, Barcelona

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    Andres Iniesta is one of the silkiest customers in the business.

    He has unbelievable fluidity and agility in tight spaces, and he will continue to torment defences with mazy runs for as long he holds onto his quick first step.

    That physical advantage along with a sublime technique have allowed him to become one of the best technicians in world football.

CM Isco, Real Madrid

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    It was a tossup between Thiago Alcantara and Isco for this spot, and anyone who has perused the footage of the FIFA U20 World Cup last summer will know these are two of the finest young tricksters in the business.

    Thiago likes to play it safe more often than not, though, so we've opted for Isco. The former Malaga hero has outrageous agility and possesses a wonderful ability to draw defenders in and pass at the very last second, leaving them helpless.

Wing: Ricardo Quaresma, Porto

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    The prototype for wasted talent, Ricardo Quaresma just signed a deal with FC Porto until the end of the season in a surprise move.

    After being lauded by Luiz Felipe Scolari at Euro 2004, an ill-fated move to Internazionale paved the way for a disappointing career filled with stepovers, moments of inconsequential brilliance and not much else.

    Still, despite his failings, he's an epic talent on the ball.

AMC: Ronaldinho, Atletico Mineiro

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    Ronaldinho will forever be talked about as one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game.

    His career tailed off for a few short years in the early part of this decade, certainly, but before that he was an electric, sublime, unpredictable talent.

    The one goal that will always stick out in this writer's memory is his shot from outside the box against Chelsea. From a standstill position, how do you generate enough power and swerve to beat Petr Cech from 20 yards?

Wing: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

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    What's better, Cristiano: winning the Ballon d'Or or making our fiercely contested Flair XI?

    Well, if he inexplicably falls short of claiming Europe's top individual prize, he's always got this achievement to fall back on.

    He was the first name on the team sheet. Despite scoring an outrageous amount of goals every season, he somehow finds time to pull off backheels, stepovers and silky skills.

CF: Neymar, Barcelona

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    Who else?

    The king of stepovers, slaloming runs and fancy dribbles spearheads our formation, and we're pretty confident he'll thrive in this technically wonderful side.

    For Barcelona, Neymar has calmed down a little as he adjusts to life in Spanish football, but for Santos, he had Brazil's public picking up their jaws time and time again.

    There are few, if any, better in the current game.


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