A record 5.3 million votes were cast in selecting the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2012, a 20% increase on 12 months ago, and the end product is another XI packed predominantly with Spain-based talent.
UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2012
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF & Spain), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid CF & Spain), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona & Spain), Thiago Silva (AC Milan/Paris Saint-Germain FC), Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München & Germany), Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona & Spain), Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona & Spain), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus & Italy), Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF & Germany), Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF & Portugal)
For the third successive edition, eight Liga players feature in the Team of the Year, five of whom were involved in Spain's UEFA EURO 2012 triumph in Poland and Ukraine. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF provide four players apiece, with the Catalan club' contribution headed by Iniesta, who was chosen by almost three out of every four users who voted.
Club-mates Piqué, Xavi and Messi also make the cut, and Messi is joined in attack by Cristiano Ronaldo, making a record seventh appearance in a poll now in its 12th edition. For the first time users were invited to decide their favoured formation – they nominated 4-4-2, the system used as a default for the previous selections.
Ronaldo, like Casillas, is also in the XI for the sixth year running. Ramos returns for his second appearance, four years after his first, but for the fourth member of the Real Madrid contingent, Özil, this marks a debut. At 24, the German is the youngest member of the lineup; another player making his bow, 33-year-old Pirlo, is the oldest.
A third newcomer, Thiago Silva, completes the cast list, narrowly edging out Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels for the final defensive berth. The PSG man is Ligue 1's first representative since 2007, and if for the first time there are no Premier League players, the Spanish Liga's dominance continues.
The 5.3 million votes were cast by nearly half a million users, both records, surpassing 2010 when 400,000 users made 5 million selections. Some 50,000 of this year's picks were made directly via the official UEFA Champions League Twitter page, an option available for the first time.
The next step will see one member of the team receive a €100,000 cheque from UEFA which he will donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The previous editions of the UEFA.com users’ Team of the Year can be found at: http://uefa.to/S1lvyL
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