I’m constantly reminded of the long holidays teaching affords me so I’m going to use my time, like a touch of Berbatov brilliance on a cold night in Birmingham, to step in and provide an offering in the goodfeetforabigman winter wasteland.
This evening I was reading Phil Minshull’s BBC blog and he wrote a little about the Ballon D’Or and then introduced to me the UEFA Team of the Year voting system. I had failed to notice in previous years that we, the general public, could vote on this (something Phil points to as a positive difference between it and the World Player of the Year award).
I read Phil’s team and his assessment of the voting system. Basically you pick a side in a 4-4-2 formation with 5 players to choose from for each position. After working out the intricacies, such as not being able to move Ronaldo from the right wing and having to choose 2 central midfielders from two separate lists of 5, the 11 I plumped for differed in only 3 positions from Mr. Minshull’s.
My UEFA Team of the Year is as follows: Julio Cesar; Lahm, Lucio, Pique, Coentrao; Ronaldo, Schweinsteiger, Snjeider, Iniesta; Messi, Villa.
Cesar edged it for me as goalkeeper due in part to Jose’s defensive champions league tactics, which meant he was called upon more often than other top keepers, but also because prior to the summer he had an air of invincibility. Goalkeeper is such an exposed position that confidence bordering on arrogance, in the absence of a purer mental strength, is necessary. Julio Cesar shows confidence, people become confident in his ability, he becomes more confident and the cycle continues. Joe Hart’s early season form is an excellent example of this. In saying all this I feel it pertinent to state that I build up opinions of players mainly from what I see and consciously or subconsciously from what praise/abuse others give them – I cannot possibly watch all the playing minutes of all the players of UEFA’s 55 player list so I have to form my opinion from what I have seen – and the goalkeeping moment I remember from the last year is Cesar’s vital save from Messi in the Champion’s League semi-final second leg. Therefore, he gets my vote.
Lucio was an automatic pick after some commanding displays in last season’s CL and Pique would be his perfect, slightly more technically gifted, foil. I will forever wonder why Man Utd thought Pique was only worth £5m. Lahm is an excellent full-back and Coentrao is a man on the way up (admittedly I have only seen a little of Coentrao but I couldn’t face putting Ashley Cole in the side).
Ronaldo was an automatic pick, as was Iniesta. In central midfield list 1 I had to choose between Schweinsteiger and Xavi (I would liked to have picked both). Schweinsteiger’s conversion to central-midfield left me wondering why/if he ever played anywhere else and his exceptional World Cup performances clinched it ahead of Xavi’s consistent greatness. In a surprising and unexplained twist you are asked to name a captain before submitting your team and to Schweinsteiger I afforded this prostigeous honour. Snjeider orchestrated two teams that went beyond expectations in 2010, providing a hint of magic and aesthetic beauty inside football teams not so pleasing on the eye.
Messi was the clichéd “shoe-in” but who to partner him with was my hardest decision. It came down to 4: Milito, Forlan, Villa and Tevez. Milito isn’t the greatest technical footballer but in 2010 has often been a devastatingly effective and hardworking striker. Tevez scored goals goals goals in 2010, runs around like a lot, but is tarnished by his mercinary-ness and is decidedly annoying. Forlan does exceptionally well for both unfancied club and country. However, for me Villa trumped the aforementioned; he scored the goals, both for a club outside the Spanish “big 2” (I find the evolution of “big” as a prefix to any number to denote dominance intriguing*) and quite importantly for Spain at the World Cup. Easily as deadly as Tevez and Milito and matches Forlan’s claim for doing it by himself.
I am quite confident that my UEFA Team of the Year has all the ingredients of a team to challenge/destroy the big [insert arbitrary number here] in the premier league. Interestingly, like Phil, I chose no Premiership players – yes, that’s right, Gareth Bale was cruelly left out in the cold in favour of Iniesta! My lofty judgement of European talent undoubtedly gives weight to the increasing body of evidence suggesting a recession in the quality of the Premiership. If you fancy a go simply visit http://www.uefa.com/community/teamoftheyear/index.html – feel free to post your team as a comment for comparison.
*5Live last night spoke of the “big 5” – that’s a quarter of the league 5Live! I hardly think it worthy of the use of the word “big” if 25% of the league are dominant – indeed can 25% of a league be dominant?