Almost 400,000 individual voters had their say in selecting the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2011 and the end product, announced today, is another team packed predominantly with Spain-based talent.
Just as last year, eight Liga players feature in the Team of the Year and not surprisingly FC Barcelona, the reigning European champions, lead the way with five players, with another three coming from Real Madrid CF.
In total 4.5m votes were cast by 380,000 users and the five Barcelona players in the resulting dream team are defenders Daniel Alves and Gerard Piqué, midfielders Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta, and forward Lionel Messi. As the player voted team captain by UEFA.com users, Xavi – who was also the player to receive most individual votes – will be the recipient of a €100,000 cheque from UEFA which he will donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas heads the Real Madrid contingent and, like club-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, appears in the side for the fifth year running. Ronaldo, chosen alongside Messi as a forward in this fantasy XI, previously figured as a right midfielder in past editions and his six appearances overall is a total matched only by Carles Puyol, the Barcelona defender. By contrast, the third Madrid player picked, defender Marcelo, makes the cut for the first time.
The three remaining places are taken by three other first-timers from three different leagues: AC Milan centre-back Thiago Silva, FC Bayern München wide man Arjen Robben – deployed in right midfield – and on the opposite flank, Tottenham Hotspur FC's Gareth Bale. Bale is the first Tottenham player to appear in a Team of the Year and the first Welshman. With his inclusion, Wales becomes the 19th country represented in the 11 years of the UEFA.com users' poll.
There are no surprises about the identity of the man elected to oversee this team of many talents, Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola, who repeats his nomination of two years ago. He collected five trophies with the Azulgrana in 2011 and now has 13 from three and a half years at the Camp Nou helm.
UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2011:
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF & Spain); Daniel Alves (FC Barcelona), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona & Spain), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Marcelo (Real Madrid CF); Arjen Robben (FC Bayern München & Netherlands), Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona & Spain), Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona & Spain), Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur FC & Wales); Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF & Portugal). Josep Guardiola (FC Barcelona).
The previous editions of the uefa.com users' Team of the Year can be found at:
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