As 2015 nears its end, we have picked the top 50 players of 2015 – with our selection based on the players’ performances during the year, not their individual skills. Out of these 50 players, we have created four different teams, each of which you will be able to read about during the month of December. Our fourth team is captained by Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
For our fourth team we have chosen the experimental 3-4-3 formation that Pep Guardiola has used at Bayern Munich in the last few months. Guardiola often uses a formation with three defensive players when his opponent and position on the table allow him to do so.
This formation is extremely strong though the midfield and it is built for possession-style play. The man advantage in midfield can actually be a blessing worth the sacrifice in defender from 4-4-2.
The central striker generally plays as a target man-esque figure, while the wide forwards retain freedom to do whatever they want in the last third of the pitch.
Guardiola is famous for his tactical innovations and for changing the positions of defensive players. Some of that we copied from the Bayern coach because a man who has Manchester City offering a reported 25 million euros per year certainly knows more than we do. David Alaba’s position in the team is slightly more offensive and he took place in our midfield, by the left touchline.
The main characteristic of this formation is tactical flexibility and due to the players that we have picked, Sergio Busquets is set behind the three offensive midfielders (3-1-3-3).
For obvious reasons, we needed a goalkeeper who is prepared to be active part of possession dominance, who can deliver steady passes but who is reliable when it comes to counter-attacks. Claudio Bravo was the perfect choice after an incredible year with Barcelona and Chile. Bravo has fantastic reflexes on goal, and transmits a sense of security to his defense. In addition, he’s good with the ball in his feet.
The key element in the three-man backline is the central center-back. While both wide center-backs function like true classical center-backs, the middle one has to play exactly like a distributing midfielder. In addition, he must be very good in the air and have an excellent sense of space and positioning.
Thiago Silva, Giorgo Chiellini and Cesar Azpilicueta need to secure their own goal and keep the ball away from the Chilean goalkeeper. However, the focus of the 3-man backline isn’t the defensive structure, it’s the structure in possession. Their first job is to eliminate pressing from the opposition or attacks with ball movement.
Sergio Busquets has perhaps the most important role in the entire formation – he is the only classic defensive midfielder who gives balance to this super offensive formation.
The Sabadell-born is a hard-working player, he excels at breaking down opposition plays due to his positional sense, defensive attributes, tactical intelligence and ability to read the game. Due to his vision, ball control, and accurate passing ability, he rarely relinquishes possession and that’s why he is a perfect fit for our 3-1-3-3 formation.
In front of him are Alaba, Angel Di Maria, on the right side and Mesut Ozil in the middle. All three of them are exceptionally good with the ball in their feet – the Austrian possesses a powerful shot, while the Argentinian and German are able to assist at any time. Ozil confirmed that fact with 15 successful goal passes in the first 17 Premier league games this season. Nevertheless, the defense will largely depend on Alaba and Di Maria who will have a lot of work in their own half.
We all know the qualities of Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Eden Hazard, but how would they all look in the same team?
With the Polish player in the fold, we have the dynamic possession-based striker that we needed. His mobility brings us many possibilities upfront and allows the technical genius of Messi and Hazard full freedom in the last third of the pitch.
Lewandowski can drop deep and play as a false nine along with his ability to shift out towards the wing and interchange with the wide midfielders, allowing him to bring a high degree of versatility to the Top Eleven fourth team of the year attack. Partnering with the Argentinian and the Belgian could give him a freer role in our team and much more space for the others.
What do you think – is the Messi’s team better than the previous ones that we selected? Share your thoughts using #TopEleven hashtag.