The fans have spoken. After more than 6.3 million votes were cast – a new record for the annual selection – the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2013 has been announced.
Only a quick glance at the XI is needed to see the blend is quite different from recent vintages: there are six changes from the 2012 selection, and three complete newcomers to the team. Last year was FC Bayern München's annus mirabilis and, as such, it should be no surprise to see four of their players in the lineup, with captain Philipp Lahm collecting the most votes of any player.
Iker Casillas' long reign as the number one No1 – he finished top of the goalkeeper voting for six straight years – came to an end as Manuel Neuer was installed by UEFA.com users as the premier player between the posts. Casillas was not actually in the nominee list after playing just 14 games for Real Madrid CF last year, but he would have been hard-pressed to hold off Neuer who was rock solid as Bayern stormed to an unprecedented five trophies.
Neuer's team-mate David Alaba comes into the back line after great contributions at both ends of the pitch – he also becomes the first Austrian to be selected. A midfielder who went toe-to-toe with these two Bayern players on a regular basis in 2013 is the third new name to the team sheet. Marco Reus is Borussia Dortmund's first representative in an annual vote that has been running since 2001.
For the first time since 2007, there is no Lionel Messi in the team picked by the fans. Stellar years by FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Sweden star Zlatan Ibrahimović left no room for the FC Barcelona forward who missed the last two months of 2013 through injury – and was perhaps unlucky not to be playing leading up to, and during, the voting period.
Nevertheless, some stalwarts were back. It was a third successive year for Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva, who retains his record of being the only player to have been selected on every occasion he has been nominated. Speaking of records, Ronaldo made it a ground-breaking seven straight selections.
However, with Bundesliga-based players more numerous than any other league for the first time, it seems the great year had by German football (and in particular, Bayern) has been fully recognised by fans. Is this confirmation of a power shift in European football?
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