Inter Milan brought the 2009/10 season to a close, beating Bayern Munich 2-0 in the Champions League Final to win their first treble and their first European Cup since 1965. Here is the team of the season.
GK: Julio Cesar (Inter Milan) Cesar stops shots. He organizes a defense and controls his area as well as anyone. He was impactful at multiple points when Inter Milan was under siege. He lifted three trophies.
LB: Ashley Cole (Chelsea) Ashley Cole is an unsavory individual, but an incredibly gifted footballer. He’s a tremendous athlete. He is quick, he covers ground, he locks down opposing wingers, he gets forward and he is solid technically. The only thing more you could ask of him is not to look so smug about it.
CB: Gerard Pique (Barcelona) Pique may be the most versatile center back in the world. He’s intelligent with technical ability. He could play anywhere besides goalkeeper at a high level. He took a great leap forward this season. Together with Carles Puyol he forms the best defensive pairing at club and international level.
CB: Lucio (Inter Milan) Bayern Munich allowed Lucio to leave on a free transfer to Inter Milan. It cost them the Champions League. He’s not the quickest defender, but is tough, physical and reads the game exceptionally. If you don’t think he should be on this list, check out the video of him shutting down Didier Drogba.
RB: Dani Alves (Barcelona) Alves is competent defensively and great getting forward. With his tireless running he is Barcelona’s right back and right-winger. He has great technical skill and links up majestically with Leo Messi. He had a far more consistent season than his national teammate Maicon.
M: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) After his world-record transfer, Ronaldo made only 33 starts for Real Madrid. He scored 33 goals. The only thing he does with greater frequency is busty women. He inordinately dominated Madrid’s play. They set a record for wins in La Liga. He’s one of the world’s elite athletes. He’s better than anyone except Leo Messi. Pick the best athlete in the NFL and ask him to run that fast while dribbling a soccer ball.
M: Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan) Sneijder finally recovered the pre-injury form he had for Real Madrid. He has elite vision and technical skill. He’s great on set pieces. His creativity enlivened Inter’s attack to make them far more versatile and dangerous in Europe. He missed a good portion of the season, but was so impressive when he did play you would not remember it. You might want to check out his fiance.
M: Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona) Xavi is the best passer in the world. He dismantles opponents, attempting and completing far more passes than anyone else and with stunning accuracy. He seems to play even better against quality opposition. He lets Leo Messi be Leo Messi. When Inter Milan beat Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal, their gameplan was to shut down Xavi. At 30 years old, he’s aging like expensive wine.
M: Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) Bayern Munich let Arjen Robben play on the right, cut in and shoot. He scored 23 goals in 36 appearances (the same number he scored the past four seasons combined) and nearly single-handedly brought them to the Champions League Final. He may be the most dangerous player in soccer when allowed space to run with the ball. Unfortunately for Bayern, his former coach Jose Mourinho knew how to stop him, close him down and kick him.
F: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) Messi was healthy for the second season in a row. He appeared 53 times, scored 47 goals and had 14 assists. He’s the best player on this planet. His only rivals are Pele and Maradona. If Bill Simmons was writing a trade value column for soccer, Barcelona would not trade Messi for Ronaldo or Rooney. They would not trade Messi for Ronaldo and Rooney. Unless someone dominates the World Cup, he should receive his second-straight Ballon D’Or.
F: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) Rooney matured incredibly. Handed the responsibility after Ronaldo’s departure, he scored 26 goals and, often by himself, kept a flaccid United team in the title race. He was more valuable on one leg than Dimitar Berbatov was on two. Once an unrestrained explosion waiting to be goaded, Rooney is a cool-headed, consummate leader who will undoubtedly captain England and Manchester United.