As is tradition in early December, the nominees for the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year have been announced and now it is up to you to choose the best starting XI from the leading players to have graced Europe's football pitches in 2013.
Getting the names down to 40 was a tough enough job. That task fell to UEFA.com staff writers with the help of our network of correspondents in every European country as well as the opinions of some of the continent's best and most well-respected reporters, including Graham Hunter, Andy Brassell and Andy James.
If ever there was a way to provoke debate among fans, it is picking a team from some of the best players on the planet. Obviously some of these were shoe-ins, but everyone has their view, and like any group of supporters we did not agree on everything. However, with certain thought processes integral to the eventual decisions, we finally came to a conclusion.
First, it must be clarified that the nominees have been selected on how they played and what they achieved in the calendar year 2013. A player may have started the 2012/13 season like a train and so been crucial to his team's title success, but if his impact faded or performances dropped off in the second half of the campaign, that was taken into account.
Consistently high performances over the year were valued, though it must be said the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Fabian Schär and Arturo Vidal were unlucky to miss out. Vidal was player of the 2012/13 season for Italian champions Juventus but – and this is where our local reporters give us a vital edge – Paul Pogba had a very strong finish last term and has become ever more influential as the year has gone on. He also led France to the FIFA U-20 World Cup crown and then helped the senior side to the FIFA World Cup – some of the reasons why he squeezed out his team-mate among the 12 midfielders.
Also important was a player's displays on the international scene – in both club and national team football. The reward for doing well in UEFA club competitions is reflected by the presence of nine FC Bayern München men among the nominees, though their stellar domestic year was also taken into account. Nevertheless, it would have been hard to force a way into the reckoning without playing any European football in 2013, with only really the ever-prolific Falcao – who is nominated – not making a mark in UEFA competition over the period.
Certain candidates may raise eyebrows, yet we hope the selection offers a fair reflection of who performed best in Europe this year. Often players were chosen because of their excellence in more than one competition: David de Gea was superb in winning his second UEFA European Under-21 Championship with Spain while he also lifted a first English title; Isco helped Málaga CF to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, won the U21s and started 2013/14 in sensational form for Real Madrid CF.
Those were our decisions – now the choice is yours. You have 40 players and five formations to pick from, so who will be in your Team of the Year?
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