It’s been a decade dominated by two men but with three World Cups, a gazillion Champions Leagues, even more league titles and over a million players, it’s been fun. That doesn’t make anybody’s job easy when it comes to picking a team of the decade because both Messi and Ronaldo have to be there.
Goalkeeper: Bayern Munich and Germany’s Manuel Neuer
This has been a decade of transformation with nobody changing the meaning of their position more than super Manuel Neuer. The German’s powers may have decreased over the last year and a half or so but his outrageous consistency combined with him being a pioneer makes him an automatic selection in any team of the decade. Plus, his argument for the place here is boosted by his World Cup win, the dominance in Germany and a Champions League crown.
It also means that as much as it hurts me, Iker Casillas, Jan Oblak, Marc Andre-Ter Stegen, David De Gea and others do not make the cut.
Right-back: Bayern Munich and Germany’s Philip Lahm
Yes, Dani Carvajal, Dani Alves, and a few others do have a legitimate claim to this throne but goodness me, how good was Philip Lahm? His versatility was unmatched, his consistency over the decade incredible – he averaged 34 games a season from 2010/11 – and he was a consistent 7/10 or higher player with his bad performances so rare, people often forgot he’s human. And his trophy cabinet speaks for its self with a few clubs, struggling to come even close.
It includes that fantastic quadruple with Bayern Munich and a World Cup. Need I say more?
Center-back: Juventus and Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini
For me, this is one of the greatest defenders in the world and he has a masters in business to boot, so we know the man’s intelligent if nothing else. And at 35, he’s still one of the best defenders in the world, one of the most consistent defenders of the decade and definitely one of the greatest defenders in the Italian league. Naturally, the statistics back him with eight Scudetti, four league cups and a couple of Italian Super Cups. Possibly the only thing that would go against, old Giorgio is his lack of a Champions League but in all honesty, should that even matter?
Center-back: Barcelona and Spain’s Gerard Pique
Before we start gushing about this man, the fact that Pique and Chiellini lead this back-line does mean that there is no space for Raphael Varane, Milan Skrinar, Sergio Ramos and a couple of other men. That’s nothing against them but their exclusion is mainly due to how good, these two were over the decade and Pique personifies that. One look at his trophy cabinet for the decade and it will make clubs cry. A World Cup, the 2008 Euros, two Champions League, six La Ligas, five Spanish Cups, five Spanish Super Cups, and the 2014/15 treble to boot with. Not to mention, a consistent, modern defender who still has the goods despite his powers waning.
Left-back: Real Madrid and Brazil’s Marcelo
FIFAPro’s love for this man over the last few years has brought him a lot of hate but when it comes to the team of the decade, there really is no other choice. Arguably the best left-back in the world between 2013 and 2018, the Brazilian dominated so well both offensively and defensively that at times, the world wasn’t sure who to pick instead of him. Even now, a few options come to mind in the form of David Alaba, Marcel Schmelzer and a few others. But Marcelo’s dominance, trophy cabinet and his eerie consistency make him a cut above the rest.
Central defensive midfield: Barcelona and Spain’s Sergio Busquets
Casemiro has a genuine shout out here, so does Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Steven Gerrard and so many others, but Busquets is and was class. The man exudes confidence every time he steps onto the field and the fact that nobody even knew exactly what he was doing until half-way through the decade simply adds to that fact. His popularity bubbled after that but that almost never matters. The archetype defensive midfielder, there was little old Sergio cannot do and his passing makes you often believe that he’s an attacking midfielder. Beautiful to watch and a tactical fouling genius.
Central midfield: Real Madrid and Germany’s Toni Kroos
Yes, this list is largely dominated by players from Spain and Germany but that’s because it shows just how dominant the countries and the leagues were. However, to not put the ever-brilliant Toni Kroos would be just harsh on him because he has been a star in his own right. The controlling central midfielder the world never knew they needed, Kroos played a massive part in Germany’s World Cup win, in Real Madrid’s hegemony of the Champions League and even shone in Spain and Germany.
Central midfield: Barcelona and Spain’s Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta. Does this even really need to go on? Do you need me to list his achievements, his trophies, add videos’ of exactly what he has done?? Because the man has been nonsensically good for Barcelona, run games for Spain and has been even better well everywhere. A likeable man, a world-class midfielder and for some, the reason why they watch football. Even now, in Japan, Iniesta is doing sensationally well with a move to Argentina possibly on the books.
Forward: Barcelona and Argentina’s Lionel Messi
What do you say? Like literally, what do you say that hasn’t been said a million times before about the man that has won everything. About the man that should be, and rightfully, considered to be a player even greater than Diego Maradona despite his lack of international trophies. What do you say about the, subjective I know, the greatest ever player to play in this century?
Forward: Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo
Possibly the only thing Ronaldo has over Lionel Messi because the two have been so good together is the fact that he has an international trophy. Even that might never matter in the end but the Portuguese superstar is the definition of hard work makes talent even better and given the fact that he’s still one of the best well into his thirties, really says a lot. How much longer will these two continue to dominate?? We may never know so enjoy the ride.
Manchester City have six league titles in their history. Sergio Aguero has played a part in four of those and possibly the greatest end to a league season ever. In fact, in my eyes, without Sergio Aguero, Manchester City would have really found the 2010s that much harder to dominate and that is especially in England because that’s how good he has been. People may consider his injuries a fault but when you average 25 goals a season for almost ten years, it really doesn’t matter. But yes, that does mean no Harry Kane, no Luis Suarez, no Karim Benzema, no Robert Lewandowski, no Gonzalo Higuain and a flurry of other names on this list. Not because we don’t rate them, because they’re too good in their own right, but because Aguero’s contributions have been godlike for a consistent period over the years.