FIFPro World XI: Which 11 players made FIFA's team of the year for 2014?
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 13/01/15 12:53pm
Selecting a best XI for any team is a task often laced with controversy at the best of times, but when you’re charged with forming the world’s top side then its outcome is likely to produce endless debate.
That was the tricky task set for more than 20,000 professional players in FIFA’s annual FIFPro World XI vote, with the definitive team revealed in Zurich on Monday night during the Ballon d’Or ceremony. And while a number of the players who made the cut essentially picked themselves, it’s fair to say there were one or two picks which caused a stir…
Having already made the shortlist for the outright title of world player in the year, the Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper's inclusion as the all-star XI’s number one was inevitable. It's the second successive year he has been selected and in the past 12 months the man between the sticks for 2014’s World Cup champions and the Bundesliga’s double winners has underlined his status as the world’s best ‘keeper.
Germany’s inspirational World Cup-winning captain also appears for the second successive year in the right-back berth. While nominally a full-back, his famed versatility and composure so impressed Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola on the Spaniard’s arrival at the club last season that he decided to play Lahm in central midfield. The 31-year-old's subsequent retirement from international football is naturally therefore a big loss for Germany.
Undoubtedly former Chelsea defender Luiz represented the surprise inclusion in the XI, with a backlash swiftly following on social media. The 27-year-old became the world’s most expensive defender in the summer when Paris Saint-Germain paid an eye-watering £50m sum to bring him to France. While crucial goals in the last-16 and quarter-finals of Brazil's run to the semi-finals of the World Cup were personal - and notable - highs for Luiz in 2014, it was perhaps his part in their infamous 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Germany - when Luiz captained the side in the absence of Thiago Silva – which left the more lasting mark.
Tying John Terry’s record for five appearances for a defender in the team of the year, Sergio Ramos formed a key part of the Real Madrid team which won an array of trophies in the last calendar year. Without his stoppage-time equaliser in the Champions League final against local rivals Atletico, Real would still be searching for a coveted 10th European Cup success.
Luiz’s PSG and Brazil team-mate captained the French club side to their second successive league triumph and first ever double in 2014. While replaced by Neymar as Brazil captain immediately after the World Cup by returning coach Dunga, Thiago Silva's importance to the national side was highlighted when the Selecao capitulated against Germany without their suspended skipper.
Despite experiencing plenty of disappointments with club and country in 2014, Andres Iniesta’s continued presence as one of football’s most inventive midfielders wasn’t forgotten by his peers as the Barcelona star made the world XI for the sixth successive year. Along with Lionel Messi, the Camp Nou outfit continue to look to the 30-year-old for inspiration.
The 25-year-old German midfielder cemented his place as an international star in 2014 as he first helped his nation to their first World Cup triumph in a generation and then was signed by newly-crowned Champions League winners Real Madrid. A league and cup double with Bayern represented the perfect sign off from his boyhood club, with two goals and a man-of-the-match performance against Brazil in the World Cup semi-finals a personal highlight.
Angel di Maria
The new Manchester United playmaker represents the only Premier League player in the XI, the highly-rated Argentine being Louis van Gaal’s marque signing in the summer. Di Maria’s status as the most expensive footballer in British transfer history comes on the back of a 2014 in which he picked up a World Cup runners-up medal, won the Champions League with Real Madrid and was named man of the match in the final.
The four-time World Player of the Year may not have won the overall accolade this time round, but the Argentine genius remains right at the forefront of world football. While not picking up any team trophies in 2014, he still scored a stunning 58 goals in 66 games for club and country - just three fewer than Ronaldo - and was voted player of the World Cup in Brazil.
For the second successive year, the Real Madrid wizard beat his long-time nemesis Messi to the title of the world’s best player and certainly enjoyed one of the very best years of his glittering career in 2014. Top scorer in La Liga and in Europe, Ronaldo scored 61 goals during the calendar year – including the penalty which put the icing on the cake of Real’s dramatic Champions League final victory over Atletico.
The Dutch wing wizard has been scuttling past defenders for over a decade now, but this is actually the first time he has been voted into the illustrious world XI. Twenty one goals in the 2013/14 season – including the opener against Dortmund in May’s German cup final - highlighted his continued importance to Bayern Munich’s cause, while three goals at the World Cup helped the Netherlands to a third-place finish.