This week on the BBC Sport’s website you are able to pick your Ballon D’Or starting XI from the thirty players who have been nominated for this year’s award. Whilst we all know either Ronaldo or Messi will walk away with the main trophy, each year a team of the year is announced which supposedly is the best the planet could offer over the preceding twelve months. Sub titled “The Hardest Team Selection You Will Ever Make” I would suggest the real subtitle should be “The Daftest Team You Could Ever Select”.
Whilst I have no problem with any of thirty players who have been nominated and believe each and every one is worthy of consideration, what amazes me is that a best team on the planet is going to be created with, at best, only three defenders! That’s right only three defenders have been amongst the top thirty players in the world this year which somewhat surprises me after watching a major footballing tournament, Euro 2016, where defenders were arguably on top.
This bias towards those of an attacking disposition has always occurred when major awards are handed out and no doubt it always will as the object of the beautiful game is to score more goals than the opposition but I, for one, want those whose job it is to stop the likes of Suarez, Messi and Ronaldo to be recognised for the abilities they possess which, whilst not as aesthetically pleasing, are a result of the same amount of raw talent and hard work as their more celebrated counterparts.
Below is the team I have selected from the thirty available players:
With only three defenders my formation choice was severely limited and I decided to at least tip a hat to protecting my goalkeeper by playing a 3-5-2 formation. This also allows me to play Gareth Bale at left wing back, a position I feel he wouldn’t be too uncomfortable with since he started his career at full back. The problems start to arise when I look for a second wing back and since none of the options are known for their defensive workload I have decided to go with an out and out winger, rewarding Payet for his performances with both West Ham and France.
In the midfield again I could simply pick the three shiniest options but because I want my team to have a semblance of balance I have decided to partner Koke and Vidal with the heartbeat of my team, Luka Modric, which leaves me with only the forward line to pick. With Messi a certain starter the only decision is who will be his partner up front and I have decided to go with Luis Suarez over Ronaldo because Suarez is easily the most natural goal scorer on the list. There is no place for Cristiano Ronaldo and, although he would make my bench, the primary reason he does not make the starting XI is because there are a lack of defenders which forces me to play the formation I have.
The starting XI above would, I hope, win more games than it lost but I still maintain this is “The Daftest Team You Could Ever Select” because, ignoring Ronaldo’s omission, when you look at the bench for this Team of the Year there cannot be one defender on it! If you are a coach or selector I would defy you to pick a squad where you are expecting your whole team to play the whole competition. In the real world this would never happen, would it?
I suspect anyone and everyone who reads this post would have a contrary first XI from the players nominated for this year’s Ballon D’Or so click on the link below and have a go yourselves and see if you can come up with a better team than I did.