|Image from Ronaldo.com|
To wrap up our continental best XIs, Arjun and Jayson look at the best of Europe. The talent in this footballing giant confederation made it one of the most difficult regions to find the best XI. As always, we sought to find representatives of five different countries, And selected based on talent, impact at the international level, and how they might fit into a formation.
Jan Oblak – Serbia
Honestly, I tried putting in David de Gea. I really did. But Oblak has been a monster this season as he has been for the last four years. He single handedly kept Liverpool at bay this season and has been responsible for some crucial saves this season for Atletico Madrid. He has 16 clean sheets in all competitions in 38 matches which comes to a total of 42% of his appearances in which he had denied the opposition a goal. His career percentage at Atletico is 46% with 133 clean sheets in 246 games, inluding 22 clean sheets last season and 20 the season before. Staggering.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – England
There was a decision made between Alexander-Arnold and Wan-Bissaka because Hakimi is Moroccan. Wan-Bissaka gets the nod for us simply because no one expected him to be a star this season and honestly he has been exactly that. Defensively he is the best fullback in the world and has made 99 tackles, the second most of anyone in the Premier League, having also made 145 recoveries, 53 interceptions and winning 175 duels in 26 matches. In his debut season for United he has only had two bad games – one against Liverpool and one poor decision in the Watford defeat. He has kept some of the best wingers at bay at times and was dubbed the best one-on-one fullback in the world and so earns his position justly.
Virgil Van Dijk – Netherlands
Van Dyjk Is one of the best defenders in the world. His signing at Liverpool Bright the club to new heights and now Liverpool is back amongst the best clubs in the world. At the international level, Van Dijk Has played for the Dutch national senior team since 2015. On March 22, 2018, Virgil van Dijk was named captain of the Netherlands squad.
Gerard Pique – Spain
After struggling to break through with the first team at Manchester United, Piqué returned to his native Spain and original club Barcelona in 2008. Since then, Pique has made over 300 appearances for Barcelona. He has also featured for the Spanish National team 102 times to date and has won two Euros and the 2010 World Cup, totalling his trophy haul to 26. A Spanish and Barcelona legend.
David Alaba – Austria
Alaba has been one of the most reliable players at one of the world’s best clubs Bayern Munich, making over 200 appearances for the German giants since 2010. He was voted Austria’s footballer of the year six straight times between 2009 and 2015. Alaba has scored 14 goals in 72 appearances for Austria. He has played as an anchor, left back and more recently as a centre back as his pace has been invaluable for Bayern this season.
Toni Kroos – Germany
Kroos continues to be one of the worlds best play making midfielders. At age 30, he is still a fixture in both Germany and Real Madrid lineups. He represented Germany at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cup which Germany won.
Thomas Muller – Germany
Muller has made over 300 appearances for Bayern Munich, and Scored over 100 goals in that timeframe. He was also part of the 2014 team that won the World Cup for Germany and also won the World Cup Golden Boot in 2010 as Germany finished third. Muller continues to be one of the world’s best attacking players. This season he looks truly revitalised with seven goals and a whopping 20 assists in 30 matches this season. Truly one of the most underrated players in the world.
Kevin de Bruyne – Belgium
On his day, he is the best player in the world, certainly best midfielder. 93 goal contributions in 146 Premier League matches for Manchester City is astonishing, especially when 62 of those are assists. This season alone he has 8 goals and 16 assists and looks set to break Thierry Henry’s assist record and has already equalled his personal best from the 2017/18 season.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal
Despite now reaching 35 years age, Cristiano Ronaldo continues to be one of the worlds best strikers. Since making the move to Juventus, he continues to average nearly a goal a game scoring over 53 goals in 76 matches in the two years. He is set to reach 100 international goals as he is currently on 99 in 166 games for Portugal. The other half of the conversation on who is the world’s best – Messi or Ronaldo, you can’t have a European best XI without Ronaldo.
Kylian Mbappe – France
Mbappe is one of the most talented forwards in association football. At just 21 years years of age, He is a mainstay in the Paris Saint-Germain lineup. He has averaged more than a goal per game is appearances for the club. He has been a part of the French national team since 2017 when he was just 18 years old and is the youngest scorer in a World Cup final, as he won it too!
Robert Lewandowski – Poland
Though perhaps in the twilight of his career, The Poland international continues to be a huge part of Bayern Munich’s attack. He has scored over 300 goals for club, and over 60 goals for country. Since the 2014/15 season, Lewandowski has not dropped below 40 goals per season and has already broken his personal best with a mercurial 45 goals in 39 matches this season. The best striker in the world, let alone Europe!
Manager: Joachim Löw – Germany
Since taking over as manager for Germany in 2006, Low has lifted the World Cup and the Confederations Cup. Pep and Jose were close but Low just about gets in.