Published On: Tue, Jan 8th, 2013

Where’s the love? Italian football left in the cold yet again by FIFPro World XI

When you look back, it shouldn’t be all that surprising.

The FIFPro World XI, voted by fellow professionals has been the source of much discussion and distaste after producing an all-La Liga line up with just one player – Radamel Falcao not plying his trade for either Barcelona or Real Madrid.

There is no disputing La Liga and Spanish football as a whole has dominated the world game in the last half a decade, to deny their place atop of the sport would be foolish. But to think Spanish football has the best players in the world, in every position of the field as FIFA suggested with their line up would be an equally shocking oversight. And it was.

Although La Liga possess the three best players in the world at the moment in Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta, whose place in any formation of this nature is now compulsory, the suggestion that Spain plays host to the best two central defenders in the world in Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique(!!!) is absurd.

Not Andrea Barzagli or Giorgio Chiellini, who were the impenetrable partnership that were the foundation of Juventus’s title winning season, and the solidity responsible for Italy’s charge the Euro 2012 final. Not Vincent Kompany, who was the inspirational captain behind Manchester City’s historic Premier League victory, or Mats Hummels, who was once again excellent as Borussia Dortmund retained their Bundesliga title. Instead we have Gerard Pique, who spent the majority of last season either injured or sitting on the bench after being beaten to the starting XI by Javier Mascherano, who is not even a defender(or defender sized). For those who want to use “but he won the Euro’s” argument, yes – that’s all well and good, but only if the Euro’s lasted 12 months. It’s player of the *year* guys, just saying.

Next to the mighty Pique, whose presence can only be explained if the Spaniard’s fellow professionals thought they were voting for which of their peers had the most attractive girlfriend, was the equally overrated Dani Alves.

Like his Shakira scaling associate, Dani Alves comes of the back of neither a successful or impressive twelve months. Hailed as the best right back in the world by journalists who tend to forget that right backs are defenders too, the Brazilian marauded up his flank like a adventurous pirate as per usual, only this time he was worse than he had been previously. Regularly rotated with rookie stopper Martin Montoya and spending time on the bench, Alves’s form wasn’t impressive considering the guy only runs in one direction. Instead of Phillip Lahm, or Juventus’s Stephan Lichtsteiner – who both won titles, it was our positionally challenged amigo who made the cut.

The most ridiculous absentee, however, was not the defensive choices. Andrea Pirlo. Where was Andrea Pirlo?! Let’s see. League Title? Check, unbeaten to boot. Excellent performances? Check, Il Maestro was the match winner for Juventus and Italy all year around. What more d’you want?

Say what you like about Xavi, but the Catalan genius is one of three match winner’s in midfield at Barcelona, playing behind one of the greatest forwards of all time. At Spain, the veteran shares the pitch with the same players, bar the Ballon D’or winning Argentine.  Despite Xabi Alonso’s excellence, is less dynamic and important to his side than Pirlo, and once again is surrounded by quality that supersedes the teammates that the former Milan midfielder can rely on. If the voting is about performances, then Pirlo wins. If it’s about trophies Pirlo wins. Yet, he doesn’t.

Pirlo did more for Italy and Juventus than Xavi and Xabi Alonso did for Real Madrid, Barcelona and Spain, with less quality around him, yet was not considered one of the best midfielders in the last 12 months. When thought about in detail, the notion becomes more and more unbelievable. Especially when one considers that the Italian was voted 8th in the Ballon D’or voting. 8th in the world, but not in the 11 men selected? Insane.

Pep Guardiola was once again voted into the shortlist for Coach of the Year, despite winning only the Copa Del Rey, while league winning Coaches like Jurgen Klopp and Calcio’s very own Antonio Conte were left behind.

Juventus were one of the best teams of 2012 and yet – they had no representatives in any of the awards. Once again, Italy has been ignored.

After the Wesley Sneijder snub in 2010(a year which included the absence of Champions League winning striker Diego Milito from the entire 20 man shortlist as well), the 2011 FIFPro voters omitting Thiago Silva while Nemanja Vidic made the team(despite spending a large portion of the season injured) and Sergio Ramos at left back(who isn’t a left back, and has never played there), 2012’s Calcio-less, Spanish-only line up is no surprise. But that doesn’t make it acceptable. FIFA earns less respect than at any point in it’s history thanks to Sepp Blatter and his self serving sporting dictatorship. It just took scratched another portion off the shred of credibility that remains.


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