Who should make the FIFA Pro team of the year? Top 50 players shortlisted

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Folks, get a piece of paper and a pen ready, it’s time to starting scribbling down your team of the year.

Alongside FIFA making the shock announcement (not really) that the three finalists for the Ballon d’Or award are Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery, they also revealed which players are being considered for the FIFA Pro team of the year.

So many top players adorn this expansive list of nominees, it makes it hard to sift through names and imagine them not being included in soccer’s current best XI.

But that’s the reality we are facing. On January 13, 2014 in Zurich FIFA’s best XI will be announced and it will be an incredible achievement for all of the players honored with a selection.

Up top the list is especially stacked with 15 forwards selected and the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi all included. If you want to try and separate the plethora of fantastic attacking midfielders, then good luck! Marco Reus, Mesut Ozil, Frankc Ribery and Gareth Bale are a fee of the choices

At the back, there are plenty of surprises with the likes of Leighton Baines and Nemanja Vidic shortlisted to be in the side. In goal, the usual suspect are around as Gigi Buffon, Iker Casillas and Petr Cech are mainstays on this list.

So, with the thought of being ridiculed by you all I’m going to name my starting XI  in a 3-4-3 formation and see if you all agree with it.

If you don’t, tough luck. But you can also have a go yourself and put together a starting lineup in the comments section below.

Here we go…

JPW’s FIFA Pro team of the year (3-4-3)

Goalkeeper: Manuel Nuuer

Defenders: Thiago Silva, Mats Hummels, Gerard Pique

Midfielders: Franck Ribery, Andres Iniesta, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Gareth Bale

Forwards: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao

Here’s the complete list of nominated players below, who stand as the Crème de la Crème of world soccer

5 goalkeepers:

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus and Italy), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid and Spain), Petr Cech (Chelsea and Czech Republic), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany), Víctor Valdes (Barcelona and Spain)

20 defenders:

David Alaba (Bayern Munich and Austria); Jordi Alba (Barcelona and Spain); Dani Alves (Barcelona and Brazil); Leighton Baines (Everton and England); Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich and Germany); Ashley Cole (Chelsea and England); Dante (Bayern Munich and Brazil); Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund and Germany); Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea and Serbia); Vincent Kompany (Manchester City and Belgium); Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich and Germany); David Luiz (Chelsea and Brazil); Marcelo (Real Madrid and Brazil); Pepe (Real Madrid and Portugal); Gerard Pique (Barcelona and Spain); Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid and Spain); Thiago Silva (Paris St-Germain and Brazil); Raphael Varane (Real Madrid and France); Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United and Serbia); Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City and Argentina)

15 midfielders:

Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid and Spain); Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur/Real Madrid and Wales); Sergio Busquets (Barcelona and Spain); Steven Gerrard (Liverpool and England); Andres Iniesta (Barcelona and Spain); Isco (Malaga/Real Madrid and Spain); Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid/Arsenal and Germany); Andrea Pirlo (Juventus and Italy); Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund and Germany); Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich and France), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich and Netherlands); Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich and Germany); Yaya Toure (Manchester City and Ivory Coast); Arturo Vidal (Juventus and Chile); Xavi (Barcelona and Spain).

15 forwards:

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City and Argentina); Mario Balotelli (Manchester City/AC Milan and Italy); Edinson Cavani (Napoli/Paris Saint-Germain and Uruguay); Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid and Spain); Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid and Portugal); Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua/Galatasaray and Ivory Coast); Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid/Monaco and Colombia); Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain and Sweden); Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund and Poland); Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich and Croatia); Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina); Neymar (Santos/Barcelona and Brazil); Wayne Rooney (Manchester United and England); Luis Suarez (Liverpool and Uruguay); Robin van Persie (Manchester United and Netherlands).

UEFA: Wales in trouble; Spain dominates; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear at the top midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.

Dele Alli to miss next three European matches, UCL or UEL

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Tottenham Hotspur is primed to qualify for a second-straight UEFA Champions League campaign this year, and will have to start that sophomore run without Dele Alli.

The 20-year-old playmaker has banned for his next three matches. If Spurs finish fourth, that would mean both qualifying matches and an additional match.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ]

If they finish higher, Dele will miss the first three group stage matches.

Dele was shown red for a tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Gent in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, as Tottenham left the tournament.

Men in Blazers podcast: Man City-Liverpool review, USMNT preview

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Rog and Davo recap the Top Four battle between Manchester City and Liverpool, ask (again) whether it’s time for Arsene to go, and break down two of the most important USMNT games in modern history.

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