As announced on via our Twitter page on New Year’s Eve, we asked you to select a World XI of 2012 with a twist – you could only select one player from each league, meaning 11 different leagues from anywhere in the world had to be selected.
We already had our XI in mind, but we also received some fantastic suggestions from readers, some of which even forced us to rethink our own selected eleven! We have featured some of your best suggestions also below.
Having pondered it a while longer, here then is our Just Football World XI of 2012, in admittedly lopsided 4-4-2 formation:
Manuel NEUER (Bundesliga, Bayern Munich) – Bayern may have faltered on all fronts in a nearly season that saw them fall at the final hurdle in both Champions League and German Cup finals, but very little of the blame could be placed at the feet of Manuel Neuer, who had a fine season and even scored a penalty in the Champions League final shootout against Chelsea.
Darijo SRNA (Ukrainian Premier League, Shakhtar Donetsk) – A vital part of a Shakhtar Donetsk side that is the dominant force in Ukraine; league and cup winners again in 2012. The marauding right back was a regular in the team and captain of both club and country. His performances for Croatia at EURO 2012 were also of a high standard despite his country’s first round exit.
Vincent KOMPANY (English Premier League, Manchester City) – The influential Belgian international helped lead Manchester City to their first top-flight league title in 44 years with some outstanding defensive displays. City had the best defensive record in the Premier League in large part due to Kompany’s leadership and organisation, while his goal in the 1-0 win over Manchester United towards the end of the season helped them pip their city rivals to the title on goal difference.
Stoppila SUNZU (Linafoot, TP Mazembe) – Representing Africa and the Congolese league, Stoppila Sunzu was outstanding at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, helping Zambia to a historic and emotional first win. With him in the side TP Mazembe also made it to the CAF Champions League semi finals, and were he not sent off late in the first leg 0-0 draw against Esperance who knows how far they might have gone. A move to the Premier League in 2013 appears imminent.
BERNARD (Campeonato Brasileiro, Atletico Mineiro) – I must confess: despite my dutiful journalistic impartiality (naturally) a large part of me did want to see Atletico Mineiro go all the way in the Brazilian league and claim the title, after fighting it out with eventual champions Fluminense for so long. Reason being mainly because of the wonderfully entertaining, attractive football produced by the Belo Horizonte outfit who were the league’s top scorers thanks in part to Ronaldinho but also to Bernard, a player with a very bright future indeed.
The 20-year-old’s 11 league goals made the left winger one of the most coveted young players around. When you can pull out assists like this it’s clear to see why. He’s had to be squeezed in at left back here despite it not being his position, but who cares about formations when building a world XI anyway?
Andrea PIRLO (Serie A, Juventus) – When you are written off by your former club and released as Andrea Pirlo was by AC Milan it must feel pretty good to have a renaissance as good as his.
Pirlo signed for Juventus, was an instrumental figure in guiding them back to the pinnacle of Serie A, experienced an unbeaten league campaign providing 13 assists and 3 goals, was one of the best players at EURO 2012 and humiliated Joe Hart with a panenka penalty that was one of the footballing highlights of the year. In his spare time he also cultivated a beard of immense grace and masculinity.
Joao MOUTINHO (Liga Zon Sagres, FC Porto) – Since his early days at Sporting Joao Moutinho has always been considered a player of real talent. In 2012 however the dynamic midfielder took his reputation to another level by way of some brilliant performances for a Portugal side that made it to the EURO 2012 semi finals and very nearly saw off Spain.
Moutinho blotted his copybook by missing a penalty in that semi final shootout against Spain, but has continued to play at a very high level for Porto both domestically and in the Champions League.
Eden HAZARD (Ligue 1, Lille OSC (now Chelsea)) – Watching Eden Hazard for Lille in 2011/12 was an absolute joy. Witnessing some of his performances in his final season in Ligue 1 was like being a wild-eyed child at a magic show; the level of skill and trickery he produced game after game was extraordinary.
By the end of the season he was so far above the level of Ligue 1 he scored a first half hat-trick in his final game in Lille colours – just because he could. Voted Ligue 1 Player of the Year with 20 goals and 15 assists, Lille have not recovered since.
Lionel MESSI (La Liga, FC Barcelona) – Lionel Messi scored 91 goals in 2012 for goodness sake. 91! An automatic pick.
Burak YILMAZ (Turkish Süper Lig, Galatasaray) -Top scorer in the Turkish Süper Lig in 2011/12 with 33 goals for Trabzonspor, Burak Yilmaz comes in to represent the Turkish league in attack here. Currently top scorer in this season’s UEFA Champions League with new club Galatasaray, Yilmaz was also recently named UEFA’s Champions League player of the group phase for his performances.
Didier DROGBA (Chinese Super League, Shanghai Shenhua (previously Chelsea)) – Representing Asian football in this list by way of his summer move from Chelsea, Drogba didn’t actually have the best of times in the Premier League last season at Stamford Bridge, managing only 5 goals in 16 starts.
But if the mark of a truly great player is what he does in the big moments, Drogba proved he belongs in that category in 2012 with goals and performances that will be remembered for all time by Chelsea supporters, including the equaliser and penalty to win their first ever Champions League.
And here are some alternative XIs suggested to us on Twitter:
@justfootball Neuer; Dani Alves, Chiellini, T. Silva, Martins Indi; Shirokov, Wanyama, S. Keita; Yarmolenko, Berbatov, J. Rodriguez.
— Enzio Bakker (@EnzioBakker) December 31, 2012
@justfootball Akinfeev; Lahm, Chiellini, Thiago Silva, A. Cole; Biglia, Moutinho, Eriksen; C. Ronaldo, Neymar, Drogba
— Chris Atkins (@Chris_Elastico) December 31, 2012
— J.Auckland (@jordanauckland) December 31, 2012
@justfootball Cech, Chiellini, Hummels, Ramos, Wanyama, Strootman, Valbuena, James Rodriguez, Neymar, Drogba, Burak Yilmaz.
— Avirup (@AvirupChelsea) December 31, 2012
@justfootball Muslera, Hummels, Silva, Wanyama, Moutinho, Strootman, Pirlo, Ronaldo, Willian, Van Persie, Neymar.
— The Marwan A. (@Marwan_Ahmed10) December 31, 2012
If you’d like to select your own World XI please do so in the comments below.
(image credit: Gianito design via Flickr)