Who makes the FC 100 Best XI? Ronaldo, Messi, Kane and more
The FC 100 revealed the best players by position, but who would make the best team if you put them together? We select our XI from the list.
GK: Manuel Neuer
There's a sentimental temptation to call Gianluigi Buffon the best goalkeeper in the world, and certainly a strong case to be made for David De Gea. But once more Neuer was our choice, despite injuries that have kept him out of the Bayern side for a good portion of this season. The frequent line about Neuer is that he has "redefined" the role of a goalkeeper, to make it a pseudo outfield role, but that diminishes his talent at the fundamentals of goalkeeping. His vast presence behind Bayern's backline has been a crucial part of establishing themselves as one of the best club sides in the world over the last few years.
RB: Dani Carvajal - Real Madrid
It might be a bit of a stretch to put Real Madrid's lacklustre form this season down to the absence of Carvajal. A variety of other factors have left them fourth in the league with Barcelona a relatively distant speck on the horizon, but the heart infection that kept Carvajal out of the side for around six weeks certainly didn't help their cause. Carvajal has established himself as the best right-back in the world gradually, initially not managing to establish himself in the Real first-team and spending a year with Bayer Leverkusen before returning in 2013. Ever since, his consistency and dependability have shone above all others.
CB: Leonardo Bonucci - Milan
It's easy to forget that Bonucci, who looks as if he was hewn from the rocks around the small town outside Rome he grew up in, is still only 30. The shock move which took him from Juventus to Milan earlier this year might not have proved a roaring success so far, but it was hardly a surprise that the Rossoneri selected him as the cornerstone of their rebuild. Getting one over on Juventus was a pleasing side-effect, but building a defence around Bonucci, a man who is basically the perfect modern centre-back, was about more than just oneupmanship.
CB: Diego Godin - Atletico Madrid
It's difficult to describe any player as underrated in football today. The proliferation of information, anybody able to watch any game they like whenever they like, means someone, somewhere will have words of praise for most players. But if there is a really underrated defender in the world, it's Godin, the consistent, steely presence at the heart of the Atletico Madrid defence, who perhaps more than anything else is a symbol of Diego Simeone's reign at the club. "Nothing thrills me less than playing against Atlético," said Godin's international teammate Luis Suarez. "They're so annoying and Godin is a nuisance; he's always there next to me, he never leaves me alone." He means that as a compliment.
LB: David Alaba - Bayern Munich
You would probably hate Alaba if you went to school with him. He was almost certainly one of those infuriating kids who was good at absolutely everything, as you struggled to be proficient at just one or two things. That's certainly the impression you get from watching him play football, as he's implausibly talented in any number of positions: centre-back, defensive midfield, even as a No. 10 for Austria. But the one we've selected him in is left-back, where his form has recovered this season after a tricky spell in the middle last term.
CM: Luka Modric - Real Madrid
Admittedly, this team isn't exactly stacked with dogged tacklers. But the hope is that they will give the ball away so infrequently that one won't be required, and having Modric dictate things from the middle of the park is certainly a good start in that respect. The Real playmaker arrived in Spain almost as an afterthought, an addition to an already star-studded squad, and was initially kept out of the side by Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira. But from that peripheral figure Modric has become the fulcrum of the Real team, the man who pulls all the strings. A slight anomaly in modern football in that he doesn't lean on any physical gifts, Modric is one of this generation's greats.
AM: Kevin De Bruyne - Manchester City
Here's a little game you can play next time Manchester City turn out. Deliberately don't watch the match, but follow people who are watching on social media. Make a note of every time someone exclaims about something De Bruyne has done, then later on watch the highlights. The chances are, you will say "Oh, that's the pass they were talking about" on about four or five different occasions. De Bruyne arrived at City a few years ago and showed glimpses of his devastating craft, but this is the season he has displayed it consistently. The complete midfielder.
AM: Isco - Real Madrid
A couple of years ago it looked like Isco would become another young native talent hoovered up by a giant club, who would make a few appearances before being spat back out, possibly to the club he started with. Indeed, as recently as last season he was jeered off the Bernabeu pitch by the famously impatient natives. But Isco has now established himself as one of the key elements of this Real side; a sprightly creative presence, the link between the midfield and the forwards and the man who often loads the bullets that Cristiano Ronald fires. Still only 25, Isco is very much the key to Real's future as well as their present.
FW: Cristiano Ronaldo - Real Madrid
Ronaldo's career is on the downswing. He will be 33 in February and is no longer the physical force he once was, unable to offer that sort of explosiveness he once could. And yet, this last year he has still scored in a Champions League final win (his fourth), won FIFA's player of the year award and scored in every game of this season's Champions League group stage, the first player to ever do so. His reinvention as a sort of wide poacher, a man who arrives in the key area just the right time to score, has been remarkable.
FW: Leo Messi - Barcelona
When a player is this good, and when he's achieved so much, whatever criticisms people can find become magnified beyond all perspective. The strike against Messi, that he hasn't won a World Cup for Argentina single-handedly, like Diego Maradona, is pretty absurd when it's stacked against everything else he has done. The goals keep coming (13 already in the league this season), and his ability to still make your jaw drop with his dazzling brilliance, some 13 years after his debut, is remarkable. The way he dragged Argentina to the 2018 World Cup with that astounding performance against Ecuador might just be a glimpse of that last piece of criticism disappearing.
ST: Harry Kane - Tottenham Hotspur
Football is not awash with brilliant centre-forwards in the way it once was, but in the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane, there are at least a few elite ones kicking around. Kane gets the nod in this team at least partly because of his ability to create goals from nothing, as well as being a deadly finisher when he's provided with a chance by someone else. Terrific in the air, quicker than you think and, perhaps most importantly, as close to genuinely two-footed as you can get, Kane is the reason to hope that this England team might do more than their predecessors.
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