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Messi and Ronaldo of course but who else made it to our football team of the decade?

As the decade comes to an end, we've picked an XI that would give any other team a run for their money.

Published: 31st December 2019 03:49 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st December 2019 03:49 PM   |  A+A-

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'Joga Bonito', as the Brazilians describe the beautiful game of football, is watched by us almost every weekend. It is the most popular game in the world and to pick the best out of all the top performers is a difficult task. As the decade comes to an end, we've picked an XI that would give any other team a run for their money.

We have gone with the traditional 4-3-3 formation, with players being selected based on their individual and team performances.

Manuel Neuer (GK)

Yes, we had three World Cup-winning goalkeepers -- Iker Casillas in 2010, Neuer in 2014 and Hugo Lloris in 2018. But we have chosen Manuel Neuer for being the best goal stopper of the decade. 

The German goalie joined Bayern Munich from Schalke 04 in 2011 and found success soon after as Bayern won the Champions League in 2013. By 2014, Neuer had established himself as the best goalkeeper in the world as Germany lifted the World Cup in Brazil. He won the Golden Glove at the World Cup and also finished third behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the 2014 Ballon d'Or.  

'Snapper', as he's nicknamed, has also won four consecutive IFFHS world's best goalkeeper awards.

Dani Alves (RB)

The Brazil captain beats Phillip Lahm to be the right-back of our team. Now playing for Sao Paulo in Brazil, he is one of the most decorated defenders of all time, having won three Champions League titles with Barcelona and numerous league titles with the Catalans, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain throughout this decade.

With Brazil, he won the Copa America in 2019 for the second time in his career and was adjudged the most valuable player of the tournament.

Giorgio Chiellini (CB)

 Giorgio Chiellini | AP

The Italian legend caught the attention of the world when Luis Suarez bit him during a World Cup 2014 group stage clash. Chiellini, who also captains Juventus, has won eight consecutive titles with the Serie A giants in this decade. 

He plays in a traditional defender role relieving the pressure of the defence which has led to the success of Juventus throughout this decade. With Italy, he reached the finals of the Euro 2012 eventually losing out to winners Spain.

Sergio Ramos (CB)

Ramos would find a place in all teams of the decade. The Real Madrid and Spain captain started the decade by lifting the World Cup in 2010 and then winning the Euro 2012. He has been at the centre of Real Madrid's defence ever since, having won the Champions League four times in the decade. He has been named in the FIFPro World XI ten times, which is a record for any defender.

He is the most capped Spanish player having played 170 games for his country in which he scored 21 goals.

Marcelo (LB)

Marcelo | AP

The Brazilian is another Real Madrid legend who features in our team having won four Champions League titles with Los Blancos. He helped Brazil reach the semi-finals of the World Cup 2014 at home and made it to the tournament's Dream Team, where he featured again during the 2018 edition of the tournament.

Marcelo also takes up the role of the left-winger sometimes which has helped him score 25 goals in 349 appearances for Real Madrid. Marcelo has also made it to the FIFPro World XI six times.

Luka Modric (CM)

Luka Modric is the only player to have won the Ballon d'Or over Messi or Ronaldo in this decade. Having been a mainstay in Real Madrid's midfield, Modric has won four Champions League titles with Los Merengues, another nickname for Madrid. 

The Croatian captain led his team to a historic final in the World Cup 2018 where they lost to France. His brilliant performance in the tournament earned him the Golden Ball and helped him win the Ballon d'Or over Ronaldo and Messi.

He has played 127 games for Croatia and scored 16 goals for his country.

Andres Iniesta (CM)

Iniesta is considered one of the best playmakers of all time and is widely regarded as one of the key factors for Messi's success at Barcelona. The Spaniard helped his country bring home their first World Cup title in 2010 by scoring the winning goal in extra-time against the Netherlands. 

With Barcelona, he has won four Champions League titles and nine La Liga titles in total. For his exceptional performance throughout his career, FIFPro has featured him in their World XI nine times. He also finished runner-up to Leo Messi in the 2010 Ballon d'Or.

He helped Spain defend the Euros in 2012 and stayed with Barcelona until 2018 after which he made a move out of Spain to play for Japanese club Vissel Kobe.

Toni Kroos (CM)

 Toni Kroos | AFP

The German started the decade at Bayer Leverkusen on loan, before moving back to Bayern Munich and winning the Champions League in 2013. He then helped Germany win the FIFA World Cup 2014 and was the top assist provider of the tournament. 

His set-piece abilities, passing and top form earned him a contract with Real Madrid with whom he has won three Champions League titles. A champion midfielder who has been a mainstay of the Spanish giants, Kroos has had one of the most fruitful decades as a football player.

Lionel Messi (FW)

There is little not known about the Argentine forward. Widely regarded as the 'GOAT' by pundits, Messi is known for his magical footballing skills which have helped him win six Ballon d'Or trophies. He led Argentina to the finals of World Cup 2014 for which he was awarded the Golden Ball. 

He has won ten La Liga titles, four Champions League trophies and six Copa del Rey crowns with Barcelona for whom he has scored more than 600 goals. 

Luis Suarez (FW) 

Uruguay's all-time leading scorer has established himself as a deadly forward along with Messi for Barcelona. In 2014, he won the English Premier League golden boot while playing for Liverpool. His dominance with the ball in the striking position earned him a move to Barcelona where he won the treble in his first season.

Suarez also helped Uruguay win the Copa America in 2011 besides being part of the squad that made it to the semi-final in 2010. He has been at the centre of controversies throughout the decade for racial slurs, biting and other on-field antics but his brilliant record as a goal scorer earns him a place in our eleven.

Cristiano Ronaldo (FW)

Cristiano Ronaldo | AP

The Portugal captain has had one of the most successful decades having won the Champions League and the Ballon d'Or four times in the period. Currently playing for Juventus, the striker broke the deadlock of international trophies by helping Portugal lift the Euro 2016 title.

Ronaldo's skills and goal-scoring abilities have left him bang in the middle of the 'greatest player of all-time' debate along with Leo Messi. Ronaldo has scored over 700 goals in total for his club and country. He played the majority of the decade for Real Madrid before moving to Turin-based Juventus in 2018.

Bench:
Mohamed Salah (FW)
Iker Casillas (GK)
Sergio Busquets (CM)
Gerard Pique (CB)                              

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