Soccer Magazine

My UEFA Team of the Year, 2011

By Thetoaststaff
If you travel over to UEFA.com, you have the opportunity to vote on Europe's team of the year from a pre-selected list of finalists in a pre-selected formation.  I mention the formation because the formation offered on the website does not afford you to pick what I would consider to be the "team of the year".  For instance, there are two slots for Center Forward, but there are three Central Forwards that deserve the nod.
A small inconvenience, sure.  It doesn't detract from the voting process, it just forces you to make some tough decisions.  So without further adieu, here is my UEFA Team of the Year:
KEEPER
Contenders: Manuel Neuer, Edwin van der Sar, Iker Casillas, Victor Valdes, and Joe Hart
Outside of Center Forward, this is one of the hardest positions to choose for.  Each of these men were stone walls this year.  Manuel Neuer led a Cinderella Schalke team to the Champion's League and was subsequently paid by German giants, Bayern Munich.  Casillas led his Real Madrid squad to a second place finish in La Liga (again) and helped them secure a rare trophy over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.  Too bad this isn't 2010, however.  A World Cup victory would have probably tipped the scales in his favor for Team of the Year.  Victor Valdes' achievements are inflated.  It's hard NOT to win 69.8% of your matches on the best team in the world in a two team league (though admittedly, that Champion's League victory doesn't hurt).  And then there's the nostalgia pick in Edwin van der Sar.  A great season, yes, but his Manchester United squad again fell short to Barcelona in the Champion's League final.  If this award were for "Keeper of the Career", he would win it hands down. 
Winner: Joe Hart; Joe was the heart of a sterling Manchester City defense that won their first trophy since 1976, conceding 38 goals in 41 domestic league and UEFA competitions in 2011.  
RIGHT-BACK
Contenders: Daniel Alves, Philipp Lahm, Christian Maggio, Darijo Srna, and Maxi Pereira
I'll be honest.  I wanted to give this one to Christian Maggio and his ever-entertaining Napoli squad.  He's tied for the lead in goals out of the right-back contestants (4), but in the end, winning at a 41.7% clip just isn't going to get it done in Team of the Year voting.  
Winner: Philipp Lahm; Lahm plays in one of the most hard-nosed, competitive leagues in Europe.  His Bayern squad won 66.7% of their matches this term, and he skippered Germany to a flawless Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.  Succe

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