European XI: Team of the Year 2012/13
Manchester United, Barcelona & Real Madrid stars feature in the top European XI of the 2012/13 season
The 2012/13 season promised to be another compelling year of European football and so it has proved.
With the seasons biggest game still to come, there is still much to play for if you are Dortmund or Bayern supporters but as we conclude a memorable season here are the best XI in 2012/13.
Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich
The former Schalke shot stopper has been the rock that has kept the impregnable wall that is Bayern Munich's defence, intact.
Sure, he has hardly been called into action due to the excellence of the Bavarian back four, however on the occasions the team has needed the German international to stand up, Neuer has not missed a beat all season.
Right-back: Philip Lahm, Bayern Munich
The Germany and Bayern Munich captain has had another exemplary season in possibly leading Allianz Arena outfit to an unprecedented treble. Balancing defensive responsibility with galloping runs down the flanks, Lahm is the prototypical modern day full-back and those qualities have shone brightest this season.
Centre-back: Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United
The former Leeds United superstar has had a fantastic career at Old Trafford winning trophies for fun while establishing himself as one of the premier central defenders in the world alongside long time partner Nemanja Vidic.
However, during the fallout of last seasons agonising title failure, many saw the England man's career as a Red Devil coming to an end. At the grand old age of 34, the veteran has been a model of calm and consistency during United's 20th league triumph amidst a defensive crisis at times.
His continued excellence into his latter years is stunning given his predicament only 12 months ago as well as invaluable to a relatively young group of central defenders.
Centre-back: Dante, Bayern Munich
It has been a whirlwind season for the former Borussia Monchengladbach centre-half who was shipped into the Allianz Arena to add defensive depth.
He has proven to be so much more than merely a fringe player as Holger Badstuber's long term injury has allowed Dante to come into his own at the heart of the Bavarian's defence.
He has shown a level of composure and consistency that best exemplifies the miserly Munich defence which has catapulted him to a Brazil cap. He has arguably been one of Bayern Munich's most important players this season.
Left-back: Jordi Alba, Barcelona
The Spanish international has settled into life at the Nou Camp seamlessly after his transfer from Valencia last summer. Considered one of the best left backs going around along with David Alaba and Ashley Cole, Alba has been a major upgrade at left back for Barcelona over the ageing Eric Abidal.
Solid defensively, but it is his ability to make emphatic runs down the flanks that separates him as one of the pre-eminent fullbacks in the world.
Defensive-midfield: Ikay Gundogan, Borussia Dortmund
One of the unsung heroes of the Borussia Dortmund machine that has reached it's first Champions league final in 15 years, the German international combines a steely resolve in midfield with a touch of silk and finesse to create the perfect deep lying playmaker.
Despite being slightly built, Gundogan's pace and technical qualities have been central to Dortmund's success with his ability to link the defence with the attack with his creative passing.
Defensive-midfield: Arturo Vidal, Juventus
Easily one of the Bianconeri's best players, the Chilean international has raised his game to another level this campaigning having netted 15 times in all competitions as well as continuing to exhibit the hard nosed style of football that has earnt him the nickname 'The Warrior'.
A prototypical box-to-box midfielder, his huge engine, defensive nous and scoring ability has helped Juventus retain their Serie A crown as well as make an impression in the Champions League.
Right-wing: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
The Portuguese superstar has scored 55 goals in 55 appearances to make further claims as the best player on the planet despite a turbulent and trophy-less season.
The former Manchester United favourite has been telling in the big matches and has continued to be a handful for defences all over Spain and Europe.
Attacking-midfield: Lionel Messi, Barcelona
The world's best player has had another fine season having clinched another La Liga triump, but it has been an indifferent season in many ways. Having sustained an injury for the first time in quite a while the Argentine has missed some crucial matches in the latter stages of the champions league.
His impact in the biggest games have waned for the first time as Barcelona in general have been well below par this season at times. Nonetheless, 60 goals in 50 appearances in bettered by no one else this season.
Left-wing: Marco Reus, Borussia Dortmund
The German international has been a sensational acquisition for Borussia Dortmund as his game has been elevated to a whole new level this season.
Under the dual role of a winger/striker the former Borussia Monchengladbach man has used his electrifying pace and clinical finishing to notch 19 goals in all competitions with many crucial goals that includes the opener at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City in the champions league.
Striker: Robert Lewandowski, Borussia Dortmund
With so many superb strikers this season including the likes of Radamel Falcao, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Robin van Persie to choose from there are no shortage of suitors.
However, Robert Lewandowski's 36 goals in all competitions including 10 in the champions league that is highlighted by that devastating hat trick against Real Madrid, marks him out as the most dangerous and prolific striker in Europe this season.
Domestic and continental success in terms of goals scored has been something the aforementioned forwards have not been able to match with Lewandowski.
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