ProSoccerTalk’s Premier League Best XI: Suarez and Yaya Toure headline

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Certain players just stick out when crafting a Best XI from the 2013/14 Premier League.

Luis Suarez, Yaya Toure, Eden Hazard — no right-minded journo would argue that these men don’t deserve a place in the Best XI. This season we can even throw Southampton’s talismanic captain, Adam Lallana, into that mix after the 26-year-old attacking midfielder swerved and slipped his way through nearly every defense he faced.

Yet the deeper one delves into a Best XI, the more controversial the picks become. Many would argue Steven Gerrard should be guaranteed a spot, while others will tell you that the love for Stevie G is the result of a heavy-handed media and too many conversions from the penalty spot.

Mile Jedinak in his place? Don’t be ridiculous. But the fact is, Jedinak was a bull in the Crystal Palace midfield this season and arguably just as important to his team as Gerrard was to Liverpool. Plus, Jedinak didn’t slip up when everything was on the line.

Too soon?

Point being, one of the best things about the beautiful game is it truly is in the eye of the beholder. Below, we the writers of ProSoccerTalk set forth our Best XI of the Premier League season.

Disagree? Consider the comments your friend space.

GOALKEEPER: DAVID MARSHALL

source: Getty ImagesBesides the greatest villain/owner the Premier League has ever known (Vincent Tan), the best thing to come out of Cardiff City this season was undoubtedly David Marshall.

In his first Premier League season, the 29-year-old Scot wowed audiences with his plastic-like extensions and finger-tip saves, 153 of them to be exact. Proving why, despite the Bluebirds being relegated, Marshall is a prime candidate for a summer transfer back to the Premier League.

PST’s Goalkeeper Nominees
Nicholas Mendola: Wojciech Szczesny
Kyle Bonn: David Marshall
Joe Prince-Wright: David Marshall
Richard Farley: David Marshal
Mike Prindiville: David Marshall

DEFENDERS: SEAMUS COLEMAN, JOHN TERRY, GARY CAHILL, LEIGHTON BAINES

source: APThe best center-back duo joins the best full-back duo in our team of the year. It was a glorious season for the Chelsea defense, conceding a league best 27 goals, with Terry and Cahill forming a formidable partnership along the way. Both men possess the bulk, aerial and tackling ability to frustrate any striker and remain persistent threats on set pieces.

The partnership of Baines and Coleman frustrated many a side by playing more like wingers who recover defensively than full-backs who get forward. In past seasons, Everton’s pitch was tilted left towards Baines but this season things evened out and perhaps even tilted in the opposite direction when the tireless Coleman bombed forward to score six goals.

PST’s Defender Nominees
Nicholas Mendola: Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Skrtel, Curtis Davies, Leighton Baines
Kyle Bonn: Pablo Zabaleta, John Terry, Vincent Kompany, Leighton Baines
Joe Prince-Wright: Seamus Coleman, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Luke Shaw
Richard Farley: Seamus Coleman, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Leighton Baines
Mike Prindiville: Seamus Coleman, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Leighton Baines

MIDFIELDERS: YAYA TOURE, ADAM LALLANA, EDEN HAZARD, STEVEN GERRARD

source:  No shocks here as all four of these players enjoyed incredible seasons. At 31-years-old, Yaya Toure beasted his way towards his best season ever, scoring 20 league goals, more than double his tally from any previous season. That effort was nearly mimicked by Gerrard, who at 33-years-old ripped off 13 goals and 13 seasons in a redefining season for the Liverpool captain.

Perhaps no player busted out this season like Lallana, who notched nine goals and six assists for the Saints earning him an undisputed spot on the plane to Brazil. Joining the playmaker is Hazard, who lit up the Chelsea wing, scorching defenders for 14 goals and 7 assists all the while infuriating manager Jose Mourinho for a lack of defensive grit. Go figure.

PST’s Midfielder Nominees
Nicholas Mendola: Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Mile Jedinak
Kyle Bonn: Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Steven Gerrard
Joe Prince-Wright: Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Steven Gerrard
Richard Farley: Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Fernandinho
Mike Prindiville: Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana, Eden Hazard, Ross Barkley

FORWARDS: LUIS SUAREZ, DANIEL STURRIDGE

source: Getty ImagesArguably the most competitive spot to earn a Best XI accolade was up top where, besides the Premier League record tying goals feat of Luis Suarez (31), it was a free for all.

Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko both enjoyed fantastic seasons, the former slightly derailed by injury and the latter by a lack of early season playing time, while Wilfried Bony (16 goals) basically put the entire Swansea City side on his back and dragged them to relegation safety.

But at the end of the day, Daniel Sturridge was fantastic putting home 21 goals and seven assists in just 29 appearances. Alongside Suarez, the duo known as SAS was the most formidable strike partnership in the world but even more impressive was the class Sturridge displayed when the Uruguayan was out – scoring worldies from all over the pitch. Late season injuries dulled him down a bit but it mattered little because in the 2013/14 season, Sturridge announced himself as one of the most dangerous strikers in the world.

PST’s Forward Nominees
Nicholas Mendola: Luis Suarez, Wilfried Bony
Kyle Bonn: Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney
Joe Prince-Wright: Luis Suarez, Sergio Aguero
Richard Farley: Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge
Mike Prindiville: Luis Suarez, Edin Dzeko

Unhappy reunion for Klinsmann as Bayern beats Hertha 4-0

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BERLIN (AP) Jurgen Klinsmann endured an unhappy reunion with Bayern Munich as his former protege Thomas Muller started a 4-0 Bundesliga rout of his Hertha Berlin team.

“It was nice to see him again but of course even nicer to win,” Muller said after Sunday’s victory lifted Bayern to second place, four points behind Leipzig.

Klinsmann gave Muller the first of his so far 336 Bundesliga appearances when he brought on the then 18-year-old for the last 10 minutes of a 2-2 draw with Hamburger SV on the opening day of the 2008-09 season. Klinsmann was fired as Bayern coach in April 2009 as its title hopes faded.

But Muller has only fond memories of his mentor, who later went on to be United States coach.

“I have a special relationship with Jurgen Klinsmann. He made me a professional. I still have the mailbox message from when he called me up for the start of training with the professionals,” Muller said. “He gave me my chance to earn my spurs. He put me straight in. He was my first coach.”

Klinsmann was only cleared to face his former club on Saturday after the German soccer federation and league confirmed they received missing documents for his coaching license.

But Klinsmann, who also played for Bayern between 1995-97 and coached Germany at the 2006 World Cup, could only watch as his team was completely outplayed in the second half.

Hertha showed little initiative going forward and finally paid the price for sitting back when Muller rifled in from close range.

“The first goal opened the game,” said Klinsmann, who had been hoping to extend Hertha’s unbeaten run to five games.

The visitors thought they had another goal minutes later, but Robert Lewandowski’s goal was ruled out through VAR for heading the ball out of Rune Jarstein’s hands.

Lewandowski finally got his goal from the penalty spot in the 72nd after Lukas Klunter tugged Leon Goretzka’s arm.

“The turning point was the penalty,” said Klinsmann, who felt it was a harsh decision.

Thiago Alcantara sealed the result three minutes later with a brilliant strike in off the underside of the bar after Goretzka sent him through, and Ivan Perisic headed in Muller’s cross in the 84th.

Bayern had been missing defenders Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez and Javi Martinez through injury, with forward Kingsley Coman also out and midfielder Joshua Kimmich suspended. Canadian teen Alphonso Davies made his 10th consecutive league start.

Santiago Ascacibar started for his Hertha debut after his winter transfer from second-division Stuttgart. The combative Argentine is Hertha’s first signing following financier Lars Windhorst’s investment of $250 million in the club.

Also Sunday, Bayer Leverkusen won 4-1 at bottom side Paderborn to move sixth.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

La Liga roundup: Messi scores, wins game in Setien’s Barcelona debut (video)

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Barcelona’s vintage playing style in their 1-0 win over Granada highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Barcelona 1-0 Granda

With a goal from Lionel Messi against an iron-willed Granada, Barcelona are back at the top of La Liga.

The win is the club’s first under Quique Setien, who debuted as the Catalans manager after replacing Ernesto Valverde.

Barcelona rolled back to the years of Pep Guardiola‘s tiki-taka, as they culminated the game with 83 percent possession and completed 1005 passes. That said, Granda – playing  with 10 men from the 69h minute on – were bulletproof until the 76th minute. Messi gently pushed the ball with his weak foot, finishing what had been a series of fluid, build-up passing.

Setien deployed a nuanced 3-4-3 variation – far from Valverde’s 4-3-3 formation that ended up costing him his job after losing to Atletico Madrid in the Super Copa semifinals.

Players like Sergio Busquets were asked about the distinct styles, but he was candidly opposed to comparing the managers and their philosophies.

“We were a solid team. We had control of the ball. They created little against us,” he told Movistar. “It’s true that we struggled when they dropped deep but, in general terms, the team played a good game.

“It’s not about comparing. Every coach has his style and his way of seeing football. You’ll see what Setien asks us to do. We’re not going to reveal it. We’re delighted with what Ernesto did and we’re delighted with Setien.”

With Real Madrid and Atletico right behind, the defending champions have a long way to go this season. They’ll have to build on the win and, more importantly, further deepen their chemistry under the ex-Real Betis boss. Integrating winter signings into the fold might present itself as a challenge, too.

But one thing is certain: Barcelona can still play like they did back in their glory days. If that sticks, a lot can happen.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Mallorca 4-1 Valencia

Real Betis 3-0 Real Sociedad

Villarreal 1-2 Espanyol

Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Celta Vigo

Serie A roundup: Ronaldo sets record with brace in Juventus win over Parma (video)

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s two-goal performance against Parma highlights Sunday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Juventus 2-1 Parma

Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals as Juventus edged visiting Parma 2-1, going four points clear of Inter Milan, who drew with Lecce on Sunday.

Ronaldo opened the scoring at Allianz Stadium in the 43rd minute and added his second in the 58th minute, extending his scoring mark to seven straight games – the first Juventus player to reach that mark since Frenchman David Trezeguet in late 2005.

With the double to count for, the Portuguese sees his overall count move up to 16 goals this season, seven behind Serie A’s leading scorer Ciro Immobile, who has put together an extraordinary season.

Surpassing the 15-goal mark, Ronaldo becomes the only player within top five European leagues to at least score 15 goals in each of the last 14 campaigns. A big boost for the 34-year-old recent form has been Paulo Dybala, who provided the assist for the match-winning goal.

After a slow start this season, questions were asked about the chemistry between Ronaldo and the Argentine. But as Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri noted after Sunday’s game, Ronaldo is unlike others: he can create a world of trouble, but manage to resolve it all on his own.

“You have a world class player who might cause you a few problems every now and then, but can also resolve 100 of them,” Sarri said about Ronaldo after Juventus’ victory. “So you have to take him into account and work around his characteristics.”

Juventus will hope Ronaldo remains on what has been his best form this season as they host AS Roma in the Coppa Italia quarterfinal on Wednesday. For Parma, the campaign that is to crack the top six resumes on Sunday against Udinese.

Elsewhere

Milan 3-2 Udinese

Lecce 1-1 Inter Milan

Brescia 2-2 Cagliari 

Bologna 1-1 Verona

Genoa 1-3 AS Roma

Salah: ‘We don’t have to think that now we’ve won the Premier League’

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“We’re gonna to win the league, we’re gonna win the league!” rang throughout Anfield on Sunday night, and justifiably so.

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 Things | Player ratings ]

The 2-0 victory over Manchester United now means Liverpool have defeated every top-flight side this season. There is no team in the Premier League (anywhere else in the world, really) that exhibit the level of consistency that Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool exhibit. None.

It’s a historical season, a memorable one for all Liverpool supporters – even on the back of a Champions League winning season.

16 points clear of Manchester City, and unbeaten after 21 bouts, it’s now a near-impossible mission for the Reds to disintegrate the empire they’ve built. But along the lines of Klopp, who is implores the title-winning feeling is still missing, Mohamed Salah is weary of admitting that the league is a wrap.

“I think we just need to keep [our] focus on each game,” he told Sky Sports after the match. “We don’t have to think that now we’ve won the Premier League or whatever, no.

“We just need to take it game by game. I think that’s the only way we can win the Premier League. We struggled last season at the same time so we have to keep calm and just focus on each game.”

Perhaps Salah’s strike deep into injury-time is the quintessential embodiment of the fighting spirit and unapologetic hunger that is very much alive within Liverpool’s dressing room.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“There are a lot of games left,” captain Jordan Henderson concurred on not falling for complacency-oriented mindset. “We’ve taken it game by game for a long time now and it’s put us in good stead so there’s no need to change.

“It is special and we’re enjoying our football but you’ve got to stay hungry, keep learning, keep wanting more and this group of players wants to do that.

“The manager’s on us all the time to improve and we know that we can. It’s about every single day, keep going until the end of the season.”