See Europe’s Best XI of 2016/17 – According to Statistics (Photos)

The 2016/17 season is nearing its end and while some leagues have already witnessed the crowning of their champions – circa Bayern Munich, Chelsea – there are a few, including La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1, which are going down to the wire.

In Serie A, Juventus hold the advantage and need just a win from their remaining two games to ensure that they win the title for the 5th successive season. Almost a similar scenario is in place back in France, where Monaco need one point from their remaining two games to win the league or the Stade Louis II outfit need Paris Saint-Germain to drop points in their game against Caen.need Paris Saint-Germain to drop points in their game against Caen.

The scenario is slightly more complex in Spain but Real Madrid still hold the advantage. Los Blancos need 4 points from their two remaining games to win the title, however, should the Santiago Bernabeu outfit lose even one of the games, then Barcelona will walk away with the title – if they win their game against Eibar on Sunday.

Anyways, with all the leagues set to be decided by the end of this week, or the next at most, CIES Football Observatory have ranked the players of Europe’s big-5 leagues to form a combined XI of the best players of the 2016-17 season.
CIES (Centre international d’étude du sport), which is based out of Switzerland, have measured the performance of players based on ‘an objective and comparable basis’, with footballers who have played over 2000 minutes of football in the domestic league only included in the study.
So without much further ado, we take a look at the 10 best footballers in each position, along with the Best XI of Europe.

#1 Goalkeepers

Once again, Bayern Munich shot-stopper Manuel Neuer has emerged as the best goalkeeper in all of Europe, and he leads the ratings by a long margin. The German international has helped his side win their 5th successive Bundesliga title, however, Carlo Ancelotti’s side were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by Real Madrid in the quarter-final as Neuer’s heroics went in vain.
Surprisingly, Sergio Asenjo of Villarreal, who are set to finish 5th in La Liga is the second highest rated goalkeeper of the season, which is down to the fact that the Yellow Submarine have the second best defensive record in La Liga, only after Atletico Madrid.
Meanwhile, Hugo Lloris is the only representative of the Premier League, while Gianluigi Buffon is ranked as low as 8th, despite having conceded the least no. of goals in Serie A.

Goalkeeper of Europe’s Best XI: Manuel Neuer

#2 Central Defenders

Once again it is Bayern Munich who come out in pole position with Javi Martinez and Mats Hummels topping the charts, the former being rated as the best defender in all of Europe. Surprisingly, there are no defenders from Real Madrid or Barcelona, two clubs who are generally seen dominating the FIFA Fifpro XI.

Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi is the highest ranked player from Premier League, despite his club boasting only the 4th best defensive record in England. The only other Premier League star to have featured is Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren, surprising, to say the least, given that the Reds have conceded more goals than 5 other English clubs but that may not be an accurate assessment of how well the Croatian has played – at least according to the stats.

The only player from a La Liga outfit is Yeray Alvarez of Athletic Bilbao, while the list as mostly been dominated by Bundesliga stars and the last and probably the most bizarre thing of all is that none of Juventus’ back three of BBC – Bonucci, Barzagli or Chiellini – make the cut. In fact, only one Serie A star has made the cut – Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

#3 Fullbacks

No surprises here, as Marcelo has arguably been the best full-back in all of Europe – at least from an attacking perspective. He shares the top spot with Juventus’ Alex Sandro, who has had a brilliant season with the Old Lady.
James Milner’s inclusion just below David Alaba is slightly astonishing, however, the Englishman’s exploits from the spot might have factored in it. He is also the only Premier League star to have made the cut.
Bruno Peres is the highest rated right-back in all of Europe. The Roma star along with Djibril Sidibe and Dani Carvajal are the only right-backs to have made it into the top 10, highlighting a dearth of world class fullbacks in their position. Philipp Lahm and Dani Alves are some of the most notable absentees here.

#4 Central Midfielders

Bayern Munich, once again, top the charts with midfield orchestrator Thiago Alcantara being rated as the best central midfielder in all of Europe. World’s most expensive transfer of all time, Paul Pogba, is ranked second, and this particular inclusion doesn’t suit the narrative that he has been below his par since his move to Manchester United last summer. In fact, he is rated higher than all but 5 players out of the 70 who have been deemed worthy enough of making it into the top 10 in their positions.

Naby Keita – who has played a pivotal role in RB Leipzig occupying second place in the Bundesliga – has been ranked 3rd, while him and Alcantara are the only representatives from Germany. Red Devils star Ander Herrera and Arsenal’s much-maligned summer signing Granit Xhaka, are the other two Premier League players to have made the cut. PFA Player of the Year, N’Golo Kante’s absence cannot be unseen and is bizzarre, to say the least.

#5 Attacking Midfielders

Manchester City’s most expensive signing Kevin de Bruyne looks to be thriving under Pep Guardiola, as he has been crowned the best-attacking midfielder in all of Europe. Alejandro Gomez’s inclusion in second place might raise a few eyebrows but a quick look at his stats, which read 14 goals and 12 assists in 37 appearances, and you probably understand the ranking. He is also the only Serie A player to feature in the top 10.
Montpellier’s Ryad Boudebouz is the only representative from France, while no players from La Liga make the cut in this particular position. It is easy to spot that Premier League players dominate the standings with 6 representatives in total from the shores of England – probably suggestive that attacking midfielders are more fancied in England than anywhere else in the world.

#6 Wingers

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi tops the chart of Europe’s best wingers and his rating of 93.5, at least 2.5 more than any other player to have been blessed with a ranking goes on to show that the Argentine has been head and shoulders above everyone in Europe this season.
The 29-year-old has notched up 51 goals coupled with 18 assists in all competitions this season and despite his failure to guide Barcelona to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, remains the highest rated player in Europe. It might not be surprising to many that he is one of only 4 Barcelona players to make the cut, a Barcelona team who have been heavily dependent on the surreal exploits of the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Real Madrid superstar and Messi’s arch-rival – Cristiano Ronaldo – is the second best winger in all of Europe according to the study, having played a pivotal role in his side’s run to the final of the Champions League. The Portuguese has scored 37 goals in assisted another 12 in 43 appearances across all competitions this season.

Messi’s teammate and one part of the holy trinity of MSN, Neymar, is ranked just below Ronaldo. Lorenzo Insigne and Felipe Anderson are the only two representatives from Italy, while former West Ham United star Dimitri Payet is the only one who plies his trade in France. Emil Forsberg of RB Leipzig is also the only player from Germany to have made the cut, with the absence of Arjen Robben, surprising, to say the least.

#7 Forwards

The one we have all been waiting for, and it is Napoli’s Dries Mertens, who with 31 goals and 14 assists leads the charts when it comes to forwards. Roma’s Edin Dzeko who has oft been criticized of missing big chances has been rated the second best striker in all of Europe.
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, who had seen his starting berth robbed by Gabriel Jesus midway through the season, has featured in 3rd position and is also one of only two representatives from England, along with wantaway Arsenal superstar Alexis Sanchez. Incidentally, Premier League leading scorer Romelu Lukaku and 3rd most scorer Harry Kane find no place on the list, despite having scored 6 and 4 more goals than Aguero.
PSG’s mercurial forward Edinson Cavani makes the cut in 4th position and along with Alexandre Lacazette are the only two players from France on the list. Luis Suarez – who was undoubtedly the best striker in all of Europe last season – has found a place in 8th position, indicating how his stock has fallen during the course of the season. Juventus’ 90 million signing Gonzalo Higuain has also made the cut but shares the last position with Suarez and Lacazette. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antoine Griezmann are two notable absentee here.

Europe’s Best XI of 2016/17 (according to us) 4-2-1-3: Manuel Neuer (Gk); Bruno Peres, Javi Martinez, Mats Hummels, Marcelo; Thiago Alcantara, Paul Pogba; Kevin de Bruyne; Lionel Messi, Dries Mertens, Cristiano Ronaldo.

  • sportskeeda

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