The FIFA “Best” awards took place in Milan earlier tonight. The ceremony including many awards, recognising the best players, coaches and moments throughout this calendar year, hence the name.
We, as Liverpool, had relative success at the event, with Jurgen Klopp winning the Best Men’s Coach and Alisson Becker winning the best Men’s Goalkeeper. Virgil van Dijk was unsuccessful in winning the Best Men’s player as he was beaten to it by Lionel Messi.
I have no real issue with Messi winning the best player, after all, he is Lionel Messi. It does raise the question: what does a defender have to do to win the award but that’s for another time. The real issue I have is with the World XI.
The World XI USUALLY recognises the best 11 players from the current calendar year. I’ve been told in the past that the Team of the years are a popularity contest, an idea I’ve subsequently dismissed until this year.
The XI is:
Alisson Becker (Liverpool)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Matthijs De Ligt (Ajax/Juventus)
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/Barcelona)
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Now, there are some players who certainly don’t belong there and the words “has” and “been” will now become pretty prominent.
You may notice there is no recognised right back in the eleven, with Sergio Ramos being put there on the official image.
Sergio Ramos has been one of the greatest centre backs the world has seen since the turn of the century but, last year, he wasn’t up to his usual standard and I can think of a certain young right-back who definitely should be in there. Trent Alexander-Arnold can count himself very unfortunate not to be included.
The main position that stuck out to me was left-back. Marcelo’s 18/19 season was his worst in terms of stats in years and, from a non-biased point of view and from a football fan’s perspective, Andy Robertson should’ve definitely featured at left-back.
Luka Modric had a stellar 2018, winning the Ballon D’or, reaching the final of the World Cup with Croatia and winning the Champions League with Real Madrid. The same can’t be said for 2019. Modric won the Club World Cup and that is it.
Manchester City won a domestic treble (quadruple if you count the Community Shield which, of course, we don’t) and for none of their players to feature in the eleven, Bernardo Silva especially is a farce.
A case could also be made for Ajax midfielders Dusan Tadic, David Neres and Donny van den Beek to feature but Bernardo Silva is the more realistic shout in my opinion.
Finally, Cristiano Ronaldo has been fighting with Lionel Messi for years over individual achievements but his 18/19 wasn’t great in comparison to previous years.
He was outscored in Serie A by Fabio Quagliarella who is 2 years his senior and struggled to find his feet early on in his Juventus career. A case can be made for both Sadio Mane and Raheem Sterling as both performed to an incredibly high standard over the previous months.
Though it means nothing, this is what my World XI would look like:
GK: Alisson Becker
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold
CB: Virgil van Dijk
CB: Matthijs de Ligt
LB: Andy Robertson
CM: Eden Hazard
CM: Bernardo Silva
CM: Frenkie De Jong
RW: Lionel Messi
ST: Kylian Mbappe
LW: Sadio Mane (we’re a Liverpool page of course it’s Sadio)
Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter: @PallenLFC