European XI: 2012/13 season
An all-star European XI based on player reputations, including Vincent Kompany, Andres Iniesta & Cristiano Ronaldo
With so much quality to choose from in deciding the best European XI of the current season, this team is based on reputation and not form in order to separate the plethora of candidates.
Goalkeeper: Iker Casilias | Real Madrid
The Spain and Real Madrid captain is destined to go down in history as one of football's immortals. His career has been characterised by unrivalled excellence and success. He is 32 in 2013, and for a goalkeeper he has another decade to play, which makes his achievements thus far all the more astounding. His cat like reflexes, immaculate positioning and coolness under pressure is a sight to behold for the Los Blancos legend.
Right-back: Philip Lahm | Bayern Munich
The consummate professional who is a perfect role model on and off the field, the Bayern Munich and Germany skipper has been a figure of excellence for the best part of a decade. His game has elevated since taking over the captaincy from Mark van Bommel and Michael Ballack for club and country respectively, with his defensive nous and impressive leadership skills making him a classic 'Mr. Reliable'.
Centre-back: Vincent Kompany | Manchester City
Captain of both Manchester City and Belgium, the former Hamburg star is a colossus in the heart of defence. His technical ability, strength, aerial prowess and athletic ability is world-class and his elevation to captain for club and country has only served to improve his game. He is a fine example of the modern day centre back.
Centre-back: Sergio Ramos | Real Madrid
The right-back come centre-back has taken his game to another level since his move centrally. Utilising his pace, technical excellence and energy as a full-back, he has become one of the finest central defenders in the last two years who has scored some important goals in the process. His aerial threat, coupled with deceptive strength, has served him well to become one of the most complete centre-backs in world football.
Left-back: Ashley Cole | Chelsea
The Chelsea star has been a remarkable model of consistency and excellence during his seven-year stint at Stamford Bridge. The former Arsenal man recently chalked up 100 caps for England and despite being 32, he has not allowed age to catch up with him as he continues to demonstrate the perfect balance of supplementing the attack and defending staunchly.
Centre-midfield: Bastian Schweinsteiger | Bayern Munich
The Bayern Munich star is the fulcrum of the midfield for club and country, and it's easy to see why given the Germany international excels in so many areas. His passing is superb, his vision breathtaking and his ability to score spectacular goals makes him an integral member of any team.
Centre-midfield: Andrea Pirlo | Juventus
The former AC Milan star is one of the world's most creative midfielders, let along Europe. His passing and distribution has been consistently lauded throughout his career where his ability to control the tempo of a game and spray balls all over the park with extraordinary precision making him the perfect withdrawn playmaker.
Right-wing: Cristiano Ronaldo | Real Madrid
The Portuguese superstar is simply unplayable when he gets going, and that is almost all of the time. His career at Manchester United was a smashing success, but what he has achieved at the Bernabeu is truly spectacular for the former Sporting Lisbon teenager. His ability to find the back of the net from seemingly any distance or angle has been astonishing, while his vast array of tricks and flicks that catches the eye of so many makes him a nightmare to face.
Attacking-midfield: Andres Iniesta
Iniesta is perhaps the best midfielder in the world today, as the Spanish World Cup winner possesses creativity and imagination like no other. His ability to get around the tightest of defences with a gracefulness and ease that has to be seen to be believed is a gift from God. His agility, craft and ability to play stunning killer passes makes him the perfect player to link the midfield and attack.
Left-wing: Franck Ribery | Bayern Munich
Labelled as the 'jewel of French football', the Bayern Munich star is a classic example of the modern day winger. Able to operate on either flank, the Les Bleus star's ability to play as a traditional winger who runs directly at defenders and whips in inch perfect crosses, or as an inverted winger who is able to cut in and become a goal threat is an invaluable asset to any team. He has been in outstanding form this season as Bayern Munich look to secure a remarkable treble.
Centre-forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic | Paris Saint-Germain
The enigmatic Swede has captivated fans for a decade with his brilliance. At 6ft 5", he is a mountain of a man yet possesses jaw-dropping skills that belies his height. A player blessed with a touch of magic, he has scored some memorable goals over the years, but what is apparent as he has matured is that he has become a more complete forward as he is able to bring his teammates into the game like never before. Dominating both in the air and on the deck, Ibrahimovic is a colossal figure upfront.
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