Even as Cristiano Ronaldo deservedly picked up the Best FIFA Men’s Player 2016 award in a glittering ceremony in Zurich on Monday night, the continued dominance of the La Liga’s top two-Real Madrid and Barcelona in the FIFA FIFPro World XI raised a few eyebrows.
The yearly accolade is awarded to the best of the best in their respective positions, but the constant ‘favouritism’ towards Spain’s top two sides has remained a bone of contention for many.
With only Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich and Dani Alves of Juventus making the World XI , the selection criteria is likely to be questioned as players such as Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta have not been playing at the level they used to.
While Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi were almost automatic inclusions after some sparkling individual contributions in 2016, their teammates were perhaps not as worthy.
Real Madrid won the Champions League in 2016 and as a result they had five players making the team.
While Barcelona won the La Liga, their form in the towards the latter half of the year has been quite poor, which would make the fact that they had four players in the XI, slightly contentious.
There would be two reasons to cheer for Madrid fans, as their side edged their arch-rivals Barcelona in the number of players selected in the final XI, 5-4.
Meanwhile, Claudio Ranieri won the Best FIFA Men’s Coach 2016 award after leading 1000-1 underdogs Leicester City to an improbable English Premier League title.
The FIFA FIFPro World XI, in a 4-3-3 formation, is as follows:
Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Defence: Marcelo (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) and Dani Alves (Juventus)
Midfield: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) and Luka Modric (Barcelona)
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Luis Suarez (Barcelona) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona)