Alongside the Ballon d'Or (i.e. the Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo thumb war), FIFA will hand out a few other awards and recognitions at the big gala in January. One of those is the FIFPro World XI, which is meant to recognize the best eleven players on the planet, but just like any other award that involves a public vote -- even if this public is comprised solely of their peers -- it is largely a popularity contest. Sure, the likes of Messi, Cristiano, or Phillip Lahm no doubt belong on any list of the best eleven players on the planet. Sergio Ramos? Not so much. Iker Casillas? He probably shouldn't even be nominated to be named onto the shortlist, or thought about getting nominated to be named onto the shortlist, let alone named onto the shortlist.
Claudio Bravo (Chile, FC Barcelona)
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus)
Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid)
Thibaut Courtois (Belgium, Chelsea)
Manuel Neuer (Germany, FC Bayern Munich)
Sure, Casillas was in goal when Real Madrid won the Champions League, but he made a total of two (TWO!) appearances in the league. Overall, Diego Lopez played 50% more than Casillas (36 vs. 24 games). If Casillas is "good" enough to get nominated, how good does that make Lopez? Universe XI? The World XI is too small of an award for Lopez.
But hey, congrats to Thibaut Courtois. Well deserved. Even though the award seems a bit of a silly exercise.
Stay tuned for further hilarious shortlists coming for defenders (November 26), midfielders (November 28), and forwards (December 1). Perhaps a few more Chelsea players will even manage to wiggle in between all the Real Madrid and Barcelona hangers-on.