EA Sports just revealed their FIFA Team of the Year for 2019 and one thing stands out immediately – Cristiano Ronaldo is not in it!
For the first time voting was entirely handled by the community and the people have spoken: the Portuguese star wasn’t good enough in 2019. Despite the squad including three attackers, Ronaldo couldn’t make the cut – the first time this occurs in FIFA TOTY history.
Let’s find out who got picked ahead of him and what’s the squad overall. Set in a 4-3-3 formation, the chosen eleven is:
Brazilian goalie Alisson Becker, one of five Liverpool players on the Team of the Year, kicks off the list. Alisson and his colleagues in the Liverpool defense are what the club’s recent success was built upon, and the next few names on here confirm that fans appreciate a good defense when they see one.
We see TAA at right back and who could argue? At just 21-years-old the Englishman is already a Champions Cup winner, on course to be a Premier League winner and serves up assists as if they’re morning papers. From right back.
Arnold’s partner in crime is slotted at left back. Not lagging much behind his teammate, Robertson accumulated 13 assists in the league in the calendar 2019, to Arnold’s 17. Compliment that with solid defensive work and you begin to see why Scotland has a dude in the Team of the Year.
Virgil van Dijk
Ending Liverpool’s reign on the list (for now) is Ballon d’Or runner-up Virgil Van Dijk. The Dutch international is often the first name to be associated with Liverpool these days, which is all the more impressive given that he’s a centre-back. With 22 goals conceded by his side in 38 league games last season, mostly due to his overwhelming presence at the back, the praise is not without merit.
Mathijs de Ligt
Ending one streak and beginning another is Mathijs de Ligt. The second Dutchman in the defensive line, de Ligt captained Ajax to a heartbreaking semi-final defeat in the Champions League before completing his big move to Juventus. It’s more difficult to shine in Turin than Amsterdam but the youngster has a lot of time to build on his early prowess and remain in year-end lists for a decade to come.
Frenkie de Jong
The third and last Dutchman on the squad, de Jong is part of a three-player midfield. Like his former captain at Ajax, he also moved away from Johan Cruyff Arena in the summer after the surprising Champions League run. He’s faced similar struggles in his new surroundings at Barcelona but just like de Ligt has the necessary talent to be a mainstay in world football for a long time.
Without a doubt the best defensive mid in world football, Chelsea player N’Golo Kanté seems the obvious choice as the glue guy between the defense and the midfield. The fact his team didn’t do much in 2019 could have potentially hurt his stock but apparently voters could look past Chelsea’s shortcomings and reward Kanté accordingly.
Kevin de Bruyne
“Kevin de Bruyne is an amazing footballer.” That’s probably what voters were thinking while selecting the Belgian for TOTY 2019. De Bruyne is showing no signs of slowing down after a string of injuries and has indeed had a fantastic second half of 2019. He barely played in the first half though, and aside from one vintage display of assisting in the epic 4-3 CL thriller vs. Tottenham, didn’t shine as he’s used to. Let’s just all wish him an injury-free 2020, so that there are no doubts if he’s selected again next year.
Mané is the fifth Liverpool player on the squad. He is also the only non-defender from the CL holders. He is also the sole African here. He is also the only former Southampton player to score on a cold rainy night in Stoke to make this list. Ok, I made that one last up, but you get the point. Mané had himself an year, even outshining his own teammate and fellow African Mohamed Salah. Fans didn’t sleep on that, hence why Mané > Ronaldo.
First of all, Kylian Mbappé is no longer 19. Second of all, he’s a phenomenon. The now 21-year-old (retirement age in Mbappé years) had a direct input in 56 goals for PSG in 2018/19. In 43 games, people! He’s doing more of the same this season and while yes, France isn’t England or Spain, it’s not like he didn’t score or assist nine times in five Champions League group games he played. Ease off, Mbappé is the real deal.
I’m starting to get repetitive, but what’s a writer to do when someone is so good he appears on every damn list?! He scored 50 goals in a calendar year for the sixth year in a row, nine out of the last ten. That’s not even counting the bucket loads of assists he provides. What can you do, the man’s simply the best to ever do it.
Did you vote? If yes, for whom? Do you disagree with any of the picks? Should Ronaldo have been included? So many questions, and they are all directed towards you, my dear reader.