L’Équipe’s Best XI Soccer Players of 2008

L’Équipe: Equipe-type mondiale 2008

It’s that time of the year again. With the days fast approaching December 31, awards for the “Best XI” of 2008 are being handed left and right. The biggest one (at least as far as us Europeans are concerned) probably being UEFA’s Team of the Year (voting is still open on uefa.com here).

While we wait for the UEFA popular vote (winners announced in January), let’s have a look at what the main sports newspaper in France has in store for us this year. Here’s L’Équipe‘s All-Star XI Football Players for 2008.

And once again, don’t be surprised if Premiership elements are leading the way and Serie A is snubbed…

Firstly, a point should be made that this year there were two “Best XI” selections: the first one made by L’Équipe‘s journalists, and the second one voted online by users on the paper’s official website. Differences between the two formations abound, but one striking similarity is that there’s a large majority of players from the EPL (6/4, i.e. six in the journalist vote and four in the popular vote). The Spanish Liga is right behind with 4/4, shortly followed by the Italian Serie A (2/1) and the Bundesliga (0/2).

Another noteworthy point: seven of the players selected are European champions, in one form or another (four with Man Utd, three with Spain).

L’Équipe’s Best 11 Soccer Players of 2008 - Journalist vote

L’Équipe’s Best 11 Soccer Players of 2008 - Online vote

Note that only six players were selected in both formations (Casillas, D.Alves, R.Ferdinand, Messi, Gerrard, and C-Ron), and the only Serie A players to feature are Kaka (apparently still loved online, despite his mediocre season with Milan) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (good thing someone is starting to pay attention).

Yup, Italy is being snubbed again. Given the shiny performance by Serie A teams in last year’s UCL, and the even more illuminating campaign of Roberto Donadoni at Swissaustria this Summer, these choices leave me flabbergasted, but here’s a few more comments & some more notable (in my opinion) omissions:

  • Keepers: No discussion here. Saint Iker deserves the n°1 spot this year on account of his great season with Real and hoisting the Euro cup with Spain. As far as I’m concerned though, Gigi is still the World’s best.
  • Defenders: I’m pretty bummed at Giorgio Chiellini‘s non-inclusion among the center-backs. All three picks are UEFA Champions League finalists, almost as if that’s the only competition the voters watched. Surely, among the collective catastrophe that was Italy’s defense at Euro 2008, someone must have noticed the one player really standing out was Chiellini. Is there really no spot open for Serie A’s best defender, or am I being too biased? Perhaps. Nevertheless, expect this guy to be a regular presence in future selections.
  • Midfielders: No discussion on Xavi and Stevie G. To describe their contribution as “essential” in Spain/Barcelona’s and Liverpool’s play, would be stating the obvious. Also pleased to see Ribery‘s excellent season with Bayern acknowledged online (then again, L’Équipe is a French newspaper). As mentiond, I’m not too convinced with Kaka‘s presence in the popular vote though (this clearly wasn’t his best season), and Daniel Alves as right-winger? Possible, but weird. And where’s Cesc?
  • Italian forward Luca Toni heads for the ball during the Euro 2008 Championships Group C football match France vs. Italy on June 17, 2008 at the Letzigrund stadium in Zurich. (AFP/Getty Images)

  • Forwards: Good thing the journalists are paying attention; Zlatan‘s there. But I prefer C-Ron as a winger and Leo Messi as a striker, not vice-versa. And such a shame that Luca Toni completely bombed his Euro 2008 tourney, because his Bundesliga/UEFA Cup season with Bayern had been nothing short of phantasmagorical.

Feel free to further bash L’Équipe‘s choices in the comments below but remember that any type of “Best Of” rankings have to be taken with a grain of salt. Subjectivity reigns, as always.

Note: For reference, here’s last year’s selection, and don’t forget to pay a visit to the newspaper’s official website. The award page features player profiles for all winners.

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  • 51 Responses to “L’Équipe’s Best XI Soccer Players of 2008”

    1. A YA says:

      J.Terry Puyol R.CarloS

      P.lahm D.Bechkam S.Ramos

      C.RonALdO L.Messi

      D.villa C.tevez