The European club season is over, but for a few sporadic matches and the Champions League final. Here is our best XI for the 2012-13 season. Six fresh faces from when we did this after the 2012 season. You might also enjoy the Euro 2012 WAGs Best XI.
F: Lionel Messi [Barcelona]
F: Robert Lewandowski [Borussia Dortmund]
Last year, Lewandowski broke out. This year, he cemented himself as one of the world’s top strikers. He has had 34 goals and seven assists through 40 Bundesliga and UCL starts. Four of those goals came on the biggest stage, against Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals.
F: Robin Van Persie [Manchester United]
RVP picked up where he left off at Arsenal, tallying 29 goals and eight assists in 40 EPL and UCL starts. His consistent production made the difference between United and the pack. Might have made the difference for Arsenal, too, had he stayed one more year.
M: Gareth Bale [Tottenham]
Tottenham did not reach the Champions League places. But getting “Bale’d” out on multiple occasions kept them within range. Bale scored 21 Premier League goals this season, many of them quite spectacular. Six decided Tottenham wins after Jan. 1. If this contract extension news is true, Spurs scored the coup of the summer by keeping him.
M: Xavi [Barcelona]
The Catalan legend is getting older, though no one touches the ball as much as he does and distributes it as close to perfectly. His mileage caught up with him toward the finish. Not a coincidence that’s when Barcelona’s form dipped.
Bayern may have its best all-time team. Schweinsteiger is the pillar. A box to box force, he turned on the class this season, outplaying both Andrea Pirlo and Xavi en route to the Champions League Final. He has made 30 starts since Halloween. Bayern Munich’s record in those starts: 26-0-4.
M: Cristiano Ronaldo [Real Madrid]
Real Madrid went trophy-less. That was not Ronaldo’s fault. He scored 53 goals in 49 appearances for Los Blancos this season, despite being in a funk about his contract situation.
D: Thiago Silva [Paris St. Germain]
Brazil’s best player is a central defender, even if Joey Barton thinks he resembles an “overweight ladyboy.” Barcelona paid dearly for not locking him down last summer. He battled through injuries most of the season, and was still superior to just about everyone else.
D: Giorgio Chiellini [Juventus]
Versatile and imperious. From the end of November through clinching the scudetto, La Vecchia Signora allowed two goals in 12 Serie A matches with him starting.
D: Philipp Lahm [Bayern Munich]
Whenever one makes such lists, Lahm should be included. He’s great on the ball. Only teammate Franck Ribery had more assists than his 11 in the Bundesliga. He’s also among the best defenders and tacklers at the position. Many strengths. Few if any perceptible weaknesses.
GK: Hugo Lloris [Tottenham]
Gareth Bale won games for Tottenham at the front. Hugo Lloris kept them in games at the back. The Frenchman made for the most part flawless interventions behind a leaky Spurs defense
Apologies: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suarez, Franck Ribery, Andres Iniesta, Rio Ferdinand, Dani Alves, Gigi Buffon
[Photos via Getty]