The tough task to name the best starting XI in world football.
The 2013/14 season is just around the corner so at fanatix we thought it would be good to name the ultimate world XI of footballers currently playing.
It was a difficult task but one that in the end we think we got just about right. See our starting XI and the reasoning behind why each player is included below.
GK – Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich.
The German had a relatively quiet season behind the Bayern back four, with the defence so good Neuer was rarely tested.
Not to take anything away from the 27-year-old, who was a key member of the treble-winning side and it was no easy feat keeping Barcelona quiet over two legs in the Champions League semi-finals.
Kept an incredible 18 Bundesliga clean-sheets, which edges the Bayern No.1 ahead of the likes of Samir Handanovic of Inter Milan and Manchester United’s David De Gea.
RB – Philipp Lahm, Bayern Munich.
A 3-4-3 formation was looking possible but that would have involved leaving out defensive ace Lahm – arguably the greatest defender in world football currently.
The German full-back is completely unflappable at either right or left-back and is equally adept in a midfield role.
Lahm captained Bayern to glory in 2012/13, helping the side win the trio of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League.
LB – Ashley Cole, Chelsea.
Cole is till the best left-back in the world, despite a relatively quiet season with Chelsea, although that did involve lifting the Europa League.
Like Lahm, the Englishman is entirely comfortable on the ball and has the rare ability to allay fans’ fears when involved in any situation.
The defender is arguably the Blues greatest signing in the Roman Abramovich era.
CB – Thiago Silva, Paris Saint-Germain.
When the Brazilian joined the Ligue 1 rich boys for £37m in the summer of 2012 from AC Milan, cynics said the centre-back was going just for the money.
Well a first league title in 17 years for PSG and a very promising Champions League campaign – the French champions were knocked out by Barca in the quarter-finals – suggests otherwise.
CB – Andrea Barzagli, Juventus.
It was a tough call for the final spot in central defence between Barzagli and Bayern ace Dante, but eventually the Italian won the battle.
A difficult campaign for the 32-year-old the previous season was forgotten about in 2012.13, when Barzagli was brilliant for Juve.
The Italy international was instrumental in La Bianconeri lifting a second successive Serie A title.
DM – Andrea Pirlo, Juventus.
Even at 34-years-old Pirlo is still one of the greatest midfielders in the world, proving such with impressive performances all year for club and country.
An impeccable first touch and eye for a pass means the Italian can boss the centre of the park against any side and Pirlo also has a consistently cool head, regardless of pressure.
CM – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bayern Munich.
The third German on the list and also the third Bayern player – which was always likely with the season the European champions had.
Schweinsteiger has evolved into the ultimate midfield superstar, dominating the pitch and getting forward to contribute with goals and assists (nine and 11 respectively), as well as providing defensive support.
CM – Arturo Vidal, Juventus.
Perhaps the most worthy of the trio to make it into this midfield, Vidal at Juve has become the epitome of a box-to-box midfielder.
It’s no coincidence that the Old Lady have won two Serie A titles since the Chilean moved to Turin from Bayer Leverkusen in 2011 – for what now looks like a steal at £11m.
RW – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid.
It’s hard not to put Ronaldo in the team every year, regardless of whether Madrid have a good season or not.
Since moving to the Santiago Bernabeu for a world record £80m from Manchester United in 2009, the 28-year-old has become the fastest player in Los Blancos history to reach 100 goals.
Another bumper campaign for Ronaldo in 2012/13 saw the Portugal captain score an incredible 53 goals in all competitions.
LW – Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur.
It was a tough call to eliminate both Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben from this list, but that is just a testament to the kind of season Bale has had with Spurs.
Although there’s no doubting the talent at White Hart Lane, few can deny that the Welshman was the sole reason the north London club achieved a record high Premier League points tally of 72 and nearly Champions League football in 2012/13.
ST – Lionel Messi, Barcelona.
Still the best player in the world and a shoe-in for a record fifth successive Ballon D’Or victory – despite Barca winning only La Liga this season, which is relatively low key for the Spanish giants.
Ronaldo was firing on all cylinders but Messi still pipped the Portuguese ace to more goals and the 26-year-old smashed home 58 times for the Catalans.