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).

USSF says nominations submitted for 8 president candidates

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File
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CHICAGO (AP) The U.S. Soccer Federation says it received the required three letters of nomination for eight candidates in its presidential election, one fewer than the total of people who announced their intention to run.

The USSF is conducting background checks on the candidates whose nominations were received by Tuesday night’s deadline. The governing body said the check is to ascertain that a candidate has “no conviction or no contest plea to a felony or crime of moral turpitude” and it will announce the candidate slate after completing the process.

[ MORE: Atlanta acquires Nagbe ]

Sunil Gulati, the USSF president since 2006, decided after the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup that he will not seek a fourth four-year term.

The nine people who announced they are running include former men’s national team players Paul Caligiuri, Eric Wynalda and Kyle Martino; U.S. women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo; Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter; USSF vice president Carlos Cordeiro; Boston lawyer Steve Gans; New York lawyer Michael Winograd; and Paul LaPointe, Northeast Conference manager of the United Premier Soccer League.

The election will be held in February.

Madrid rallies to beat Al Jazira, reach Club World Cup final (video)

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Gareth Bale scored an 81st-minute winner as Real Madrid came from behind to beat Emirates club Al Jazira 2-1 on Wednesday and reach the Club World Cup final.

Madrid will try to win its third world title in four seasons when its faces South American champion Gremio on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League Weds. roundup ]

The match had two goals disallowed by video review, one for each team.

Madrid struggled early and allowed the local league winners to open the scoring with a goal by Brazilian forward Romarinho just before halftime.

But Cristiano Ronaldo equalized early in the second half and Bale netted the winner less than a minute after entering the match as a substitute for Karim Benzema.

Paul Clement admits helplessness at facing Man City

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Swansea City manager Paul Clement may have the enduring quote of the season so far when it comes to facing the behemoth that is Manchester City.

[ RECAP – City hammer Swansea ]

The suffering Swans have had their share of poor performances this season — Clement later said January transfer spending “is a must” if the club wants to stay up — but he’s throwing his hands up in the air when it comes to Wednesday’s loss at the Liberty Stadium.

The man sounds exasperated, and sorry for his team. From the BBC:

“At times it was horrible to be on the sideline watching that, seeing my side trying but suffering for long periods. They’re not the games that will decide our season but it was hard to watch at times because they were so dominant. For me, one of the best sides I’ve ever come across. So many good athletes, so many intelligent footballers and it’s really hard to pin them down. We actually had some attempts on their goal so I’m disappointed we didn’t get on the score sheet but they were a far superior side to us. We’ve got to put it aside that game. We’ve got Everton away (next) and we’ve got to try and pick something up there.”

All that’s left is for Clement to pick up a clarinet, awkwardly blow into it, then point at Pep Guardiola and say, “He’s good.”

Free message board points to the first one to name the reference.

Premier League roundup: Reds, Gunners stumble

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The Top Four looks set for tumult on a weekly basis, and this week’s seen clubs move in-and-out at the lash of a whip.

[ MORE: Atlanta acquires Nagbe ]

Tottenham’s back in. Leicester City would like to come closer.

Burnley’s out. Liverpool and Arsenal, too.

First place might be out of the question, with unbeatable looking Man City 11 points clear of the pack. But nearly everything else is in play.

Manchester United 1-0 Bournemouth — RECAP

United didn’t have it’s A-game, but that was okay thanks to fine defensive play from star backstop David De Gea and some gutsy tackles from Phil Jones. The goal came when Juan Mata‘s cross was nodded home by Romelu Lukaku in the 25th minute, and United rode that marker for all it was worth to stay three points ahead of third place Chelsea.

Swansea City 0-4 Manchester City — RECAP

How good is Man City? Pep Guardiola‘s bunch have now won a Premier League record 15-straight in a single season, and have scored 52 goals while conceding just 11. Markers 49-52 came from David Silva (two), Kevin De Bruyne, and Sergio Aguero. Tottenham is next.

Liverpool 0-0 West Bromwich Albion — RECAP

A ball bounded off Ahmed Hegazi’s body, and off Dominic Solanke‘s body and forearm to give Liverpool its presumed breakthrough, but the call was intentional handball. The Reds had myriad chances to score before that, but instead hand a point to the visiting Baggies.

Newcastle United 0-1 Everton — RECAP

Mikel Merino and Matt Ritchie both hit goal posts as Sam Allardyce‘s Everton rode its luck and a Karl Darlow spillage to a 1-0 win. Wayne Rooney poked home the rebound, and the Toffees’ relegation worries are officially a thing of the past. Newcastle? Not so much, but money’s a-coming to Rafa Benitez at St. James’ Park.

West Ham United 0-0 Arsenal — RECAP

The chances were there for dominant Arsenal, but the winning goal did not materialize at the London Stadium. Marko Arnautovic did everything but score when West Ham did manage the ball, and Javier Hernandez rattled the cage late, but David Moyes men had to settle for a well-earned point.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Brighton and Hove Albion — RECAP

Spurs are back in the Top Four thanks to a long Serge Aurier cross that fooled Mat Ryan and a Heung-Min Son deflection of a Christian Eriksen offering. Brighton’s just three points away from the drop zone with the loss.

Southampton 1-4 Leicester City — RECAP

Claude Puel‘s Foxes are flying, scoring goals for fun and encroaching on the Top Four after a horrible start to the Premier League season. Shinji Okazaki bagged his first Premier League brace, while Andy King and Riyad Mahrez also scored for Leicester, who is within five points of fourth and next faces Crystal Palace. Southampton’s goal came from Maya Yoshida.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Manchester City 17 16 1 0 52 11 41 7-1-0 9-0-0 49
 Manchester United 17 12 2 3 37 11 26 8-0-1 4-2-2 38
 Chelsea 17 11 2 4 31 14 17 5-1-2 6-1-2 35
 Tottenham Hotspur 17 9 4 4 30 14 16 5-3-1 4-1-3 31
 Liverpool 17 8 7 2 34 20 14 4-5-0 4-2-2 31
 Burnley 17 9 4 4 16 12 4 5-2-2 4-2-2 31
 Arsenal 17 9 3 5 30 20 10 7-0-1 2-3-4 30
 Leicester City 17 7 5 5 27 23 4 4-1-3 3-4-2 26
 Watford 17 6 4 7 26 29 -3 2-3-3 4-1-4 22
 Everton 17 6 4 7 21 29 -8 5-0-3 1-4-4 22
 Southampton 17 4 6 7 17 23 -6 3-3-4 1-3-3 18
 Huddersfield Town 17 5 3 9 12 29 -17 4-2-3 1-1-6 18
 Brighton & Hove Albion 17 4 5 8 14 23 -9 2-4-2 2-1-6 17
 Bournemouth 17 4 4 9 15 20 -5 2-2-4 2-2-5 16
 Stoke City 17 4 4 9 19 36 -17 3-2-3 1-2-6 16
 Newcastle United 17 4 3 10 16 26 -10 3-1-5 1-2-5 15
 West Bromwich Albion 17 2 8 7 12 22 -10 1-5-2 1-3-5 14

 Crystal Palace 17 3 5 9 12 28 -16 3-3-3 0-2-6 14
 West Ham United 17 3 5 9 14 32 -18 3-2-3 0-3-6 14
 Swansea City 17 3 3 11 9 22 -13 2-1-6 1-2-5 12