Early season trailblazers: A European XI based on this season’s form
November 11, 2016
Like a pensioner’s erection, form is a volatile thing. One minute you’re on top of the world, the next you’re sitting in FC Vallorbe-Ballaigues’ dressing room with Eric Djemba-Djemba wondering what happened to your life.
Still, when a footballer is hot and everything they do seems to work, it’s a beautiful sight to behold. With that in mind, we thought we’d take the time to praise those players who have dazzled us so far this season by selecting a top XI from Europe’s top four leagues (sorry, France).
One of two goalkeepers to have only conceded six goals in the top four leagues so far this season, but gets in ahead of Manuel Neuer based on the fact that he doesn’t give us nightmares.
Sevilla are missing Unai Emery about as much as rock music misses Nickelback, thriving under new boss Jorge Sampaoli both domestically and in Europe. The left-back has won Man of the Match in a third of his league starts, surging forward to great effect whilst remaining a rock at the back.
Having left Neuer out of the team, it was only fair that we included a Bayern defender in the side. It could easily have been new signing Judas Iscariot, er sorry, Mats Hummels – the German having formed a formidable partnership with Spaniard Martínez after only a handful of games together.
Piqué apparently broke the ice with Shakira by texting her asking how the weather was in South Africa, with the Colombian having landed for the World Cup opening ceremony before the Spanish squad. He admitted it was a stupid question, but revealed she replied with a long paragraph detailing all the temperature changes since she’d arrived. Thank God the defender has better football skills than conversational.
Villarreal have laughed in the face of suggestions they would struggle without Eric Bailly by conceding only seven goals in 11 games this term.
Their right-back, Mario, has been a big part of this solidity, ranking highly in both La Liga tackles and interceptions.
‘The Mouse from Rome’, as Anderson is confusingly known, is playing excellently for Lazio, helping them to fourth place.
The Brazilian has become more and more important to Gli Aquilotti since his arrival in 2013, as his goal and four assists this season demonstrate.
It could be argued that several players are the most important to a winning Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Casemiro and Sergio Ramos all with a case. Kroos, too, can consider himself in with a shout, his metronomic style never seeming to let down even with Real’s unimpressive start to 2016/17.
The Bosnian created Pjanic on the streets of Rome (I know that joke has been done so many times already, but it’s just too tempting) when he left for rivals Juventus this summer, and that Pjanic (again, sorry) has been justified by a big improvement following a slow start that has left the people of Torino trying to remember the name of that guy they had playing centre midfield last season while they sit comfortably ahead of Roma in top spot.
The little wizard has started the year in incredible fashion, appearing to have found consistency to go with talent that was never doubted.
Any of Liverpool’s fluid front three of Coutinho, Firmino and Mane but it is the former Inter man who probably just shades it.
Now, if you’ve met Anthony, you’ll know that he’s far too Modeste to accept inclusion in this list.
Bad jokes aside, the Frenchman has fired in the joint-most goals across Europe since the season started, with 11 for Koln already.
After taking a year off last season, Eden Hazard is finally back looking like the type of player who could break into the world’s top three.
We can’t think why Hazard wasn’t getting along with The Special One, but a combination of his form and Mourinho’s could see the Belgian steal that nickname.
With some of the less established players in the list, there’s no telling if their fire will continue to grow or fade out as has happened to so many in the past; for now all we can do is sit back and enjoy the heat they’re creating.