2017 is almost over and we – The Football fans have a lot of reasons to look back and smile. The year was simply crazy. Barca’s 6-1 comeback, Real’s 2nd consecutive Champions League triumph, Neymar’s record transfer fee and Manchester City’s dominance in the second half of 2017, I can go on and on with this.
What I’m trying to say is, 2017 was awesome and before we enter 2018 – The World Cup year, we must check out the best performers of 2017.
So here is The12thman’s Best XI of 2017:
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
David de Gea’s year in one sentence – You can throw anything at him and he will save it. Manchester United’s best player by some distance, De Gea was at his best throughout the year.
Everyone knows that Mourinho likes to defend, but his back four have not been at their best all the time. But despite the few shambles in the defense, De Gea has conceded only 16 goals this season with 10 clean sheets in 20 games. The Spaniard is the reason why United are still 3rd in the league table.
The shot-stopper saved United on various occasions and the game against Arsenal was the best example of it. De Gea made whopping 14 saves on the night to frustrate the Gunners. If that doesn’t make him the current best goal-keeper in the world, what else will?
Arsenal vs David de Gea right now… pic.twitter.com/KJcpDvla3D
— Goal (@goal) December 2, 2017
Centre-Backs: Sergio Ramos and Samuel Umtiti
The EL Clasico rivals are at the two opposite ends of their career but they were rock solid for their clubs in the defense.
Sergio Ramos has been the best center-back in the world for quite some time now. Accurate passing from the back, calmness under pressure and the leadership qualities make him the most important member of his club and the national team. The Galacticos captain has also saved Real Madrid on various occasions with his late goals. Sure, he goes for some crazy tackle once in a while but that is nothing compared to the Spaniard’s dedication and fighting spirit for the team.
Gerard Pique’s name always comes up when we talk about Sergio Ramos. But there is a new defender at the Camp Nou who is taking the mantle from the Spaniard- Samuel Beast Umtiti.
The Frenchman’s rise to the top has been phenomenal. Signed by Barca in 2016, he replaced Javier Mascherano as the first choice center-back in no time. And he has been in a league of his own in this season. Amazing reading of the game, perfect tackles in one on one situations and pinpoint passing to build the game from the back has forced the cules to compare the 23-year old with Barca legend Puyol.
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) December 30, 2017
Umtiti’s injury kept him away from the El Clasico but once the Frenchman comes back, Barca will hope to go all the way in both Spain and Europe.
Full-Backs: Marcelo (LB) and Dani Alves (RB)
The Brazilian duo is simply outstanding as the wing-backs. They blend attack beautifully with the defense.
Marcelo and his crosses in the box is the love story for the ages. Brazilian’s crosses have helped Ronaldo score some amazing headers. The Madrid defender has proved 14 assists this season. Fourteen, a number any midfielder would love to have. His skills and pace with the ball are exceptional and he manages to fool the opponents every now and then.
Dani Alves, another Brazilian with same crazy footballing style and personality as that of Marcelo. The only difference, Alves is out to face new challenges in the twilight of his career. The right-back was instrumental in Juventus Serie A triumph and their road to the Champions League final. He set up goals for the Turin side and also managed to play according to their defensive style – something which is not his natural gameplay.
But the defender moved to PSG in the summer to link up with his friend Neymar. And so far, they have set the stage on fire. Alves has scored 4 and assisted 4 goals for the Paris club.
Midfield: Luka Modric – N’golo Kante – Kevin De Bruyne
There cannot be a better midfield in the world right now. Modric, Kante, and De Bruyne are like the footballing wizards who can set the game up so beautifully that you will fall in love with this game even more.
There is one difference between other Los Blancos players and Luka Modric – the Croatian has continued his exceptional form even in this season. In a season where Madrid has shockingly performed below-par, Modric has tried to save the club by finding the spaces in any defense. The Croatian has been at the heart of Madrid’s midfield in their record 5-title-winning year. The midfielder also captained his national side to book a spot to Russia by beating Greece in the playoffs.
70% of the Earth is covered by water and the rest is covered by Kante. You must have heard this before. And although it is a little exaggeration to what the Frenchman can do, the metaphor tells us exactly what he is.
The Chelsea midfielder won the PFA award last season but that does not tell you how important he was on their title-winning team. Kante made 127 tackles last season with 65% success rate, he recovered the ball 275 times and he intercepted 82 passes. These statistics are too amazing to be true but the Frenchman has made it possible. And how important he is to the Blues? Check out Chelsea’s performances when he was injured!
— 1xBet English (@1xbet_Eng) December 27, 2017
Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian is possessed with the Pep-effect this season. He passes the ball perfectly, creates chances, assists and also scores from long range. There is nothing that the 26-year old cannot do. He might not be the only reason for Manchester City’s ruthless dominance this season but he is definitely the most important one.
The Belgian has scored 6 goals this season. But more importantly, he has assisted 9 – more than anyone else in England. If he can keep the same form in 2018, no one can take away the top-5 finish in Ballon d’Or from him.
Attack: Ronaldo – Kane – Messi
Surprise surprise, Ronaldo, and Messi made it to the Best XI of the year! The two best players in the world had a pretty regular year. Both scored 50+ goals, were the most important players for their club and country and were the only two players in the race for the Ballon d’Or. Nothing new!
Ronaldo started the year with a bang as he was on fire in Champions League and La Liga. The Madrid talisman won a flurry of personal awards to put his stamp of authority on this year. And despite his slow start in La Liga this season, the Portuguese has continued breaking records in Europe. He highlighted his importance for the Los Blancos with the title-winning free-kick in the final of Club World Cup.
Lionel Messi had a little unusual year. He scored 54 goals, won the Pichichi award and Golden Boot, but the Argentine was the lone warrior in Barcelona’s disappointing 2016-17 as the club won just one trophy. But that changed once the new season started. The little magician has scored 18 goals in Spain and Europe as the Catalans continue their unbeaten streak. The 30-year old also scored a crucial hat trick against Ecuador to take Argentina to Russia.
Our number 9, though is Tottenham hearthrob Harry Kane. The striker scored 56 goals in 2017, more than anyone else. He won the Golden Boot last season as Spurs finished 2nd in the league.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 30, 2017
The Englishman has played an important role in Tottenham’s season in Europe so far and despite his club being 5th in EPL, Harry Kane is on cloud nine. It is indeed an amazing year when you were the 3rd best player behind Messi and Ronaldo and ahead of Neymar.
Honourable mentions: Gigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Toni Kroos, Philippe Coutinho, Neymar.
I’ve got just one question. Can this team play together just once, please?