FourFourTwo's Top 100 Players in the World 2013: 100-91
As ever, it's been a far from easy task, but we've nailed down the final list. (You can find the Best 100 Football Players in the World 2015 here.)
Will Iker Casillas lose his place in our list like he lost his place in the Real Madrid first team? Will England's 'golden generation' continue to drift? Has the Bundesliga become our most represented league? Can Franck Ribery break the duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi?
They've both had sensational years but who of Ronaldo or Messi is top of the tree? We rank the duo ahead of January's grand FIFA prize-giving based on their respective 2013s.
The top three of our list has exactly matched the top three in the Ballon d'Or for the last two seasons, so you should see this as something of a prelude to January's big do in Zurich.
There's only one way to find out…
=99. IKER CASILLAS
Nelle cinque gare di qualificazione ai mondiali 2014 giocate da Casillas, l'estremo difensore ha concesso un solo gol, diventando il portiere europeo meno battuto con una media di 0,2 gol subiti a partita. (Opta)
So long the cornerstone for Spain and Madrid, captain Casillas is no longer Real’s Mr. Reliable. A broken hand in January sparked a run of 238 days on the sidelines as Jose Mourinho benched him in favour of the deputising Diego Lopez.
Upon finally regaining his place at Galatasaray in September his luck was out, lasting a mere 14 minutes before colliding with Sergio Ramos and damaging ribs.
=99. DIEGO LOPEZ
Quest'anno Diego Lopez ha avuto una percentuale di parate effettuate pari al 72,4% mentre Casillas si è fermato al 64,3 % (Opta)
He joined Madrid as an 18-year-old but it’s only now, at 32, via Villarreal and Sevilla that Lopez can finally revel at being Real’s No.1.
After arriving to cover for injured captain Iker Casillas in January, Lopez hasn't looked back, debuting in a Clasico draw against Barcelona before helping eliminate Manchester United in the Champions League in which then boss Jose Mourinho labelled him “my best player in the team”.
98. JACKSON MARTINEZ
L'attaccante del Porto ha segnato 7 gol in 8 gare nei primi tre mesi della stagione 2013-2014. Solo l'attaccante dello Sporting Fredy Montero, arrivato a quota 9, ha segnato di più. (Opta).
Colombian striker scoring goals for fun at Porto and aiming for a move to one of Europe’s bigger leagues – you could be forgiven for thinking you’d heard this story before, but Martinez is an altogether different beast to Radamel Falcao.
“Jackson and Falcao are two players with completely different assets,” former Colombia coach Leonel Alvarez told O Jogo, adding that the one thing they have in common was that “they both score lots of goals” – 34 in his first season in Europe, in Martinez’s case.
97. OLIVIER GIROUD
Quest'anno, Giroud è stato il giocatore che più volte ha colpito il pallone di testa in Premier League: 36. (Opta)
The Frenchman’s start to the 2013/14 campaign has marked stellar progress. Despite netting 17 goals in his first season in north London, critics still questioned his ability to lead the line for the Gunners.
This season, however, he’s established himself as a Premier League hotshot with goals, assists and Instagram selfies. A 6ft 4in battering ram armed with mobility and finesse.
96. ADEM LJAJIC
Il serbo ha raccolto 13 gol e sei assist in Serie A nel periodo che va dal novembre 2012 all'ottore 2013, prima invece aveva segnato solo 4 volte. (Opta)
Ljajic was on fire in early 2013, netting 10 goals in the season’s final 12 games as Fiorentina came within squeaking distance of the Champions League.
The young Serbian moved to Roma and is finding game time harder to come by at the table-toppers, but still scored three times from the bench in his first four league games, which, let’s face it, isn’t bad.
95. BURAK YILMAZ
Nell'ultima Champions League, solo Cristiano Ronaldo con 12 reti e Robert Lewandowski con 10 hanno segnato più di Yilmaz . (Opta)
The keepers of the palace of Galata want to sell their crown jewel, but he doesn't want to leave.
Yilmaz has been a transfer-gossip regular throughout the year – linked with Liverpool as a Luis Suarez replacement, almost sold to Lazio in August, lately lined up by Chelsea – but the bustling 6ft 2in 28-year-old is happy to stay at a club for whom he banged in 32 goals last term, including eight in the Champions League.
94. Lukasz Piszczek
Sapevate che...Nella Bundesliga 2012/2013, solo Philipp Lahm ha fatto più assist di Piszczek (11 a 8), ma il polacco ha segnato due reti contro le zero realizzate dal capitano del Bayern Monaco (Opta).
Hip surgery in the summer has forced the Poland international to miss the first four months of this season, but last term he was again instrumental in Jürgen Klopp’s all-action, Wembley-reaching Dortmund side.
Kevin Großkreutz has been an able replacement, but he can’t replicate the way his team-mate couples defensive solidity with undeniable attacking domination on the right flank.
93. Raphael Varane
Sapevate che...Varane è sbocciato nel 2012/2013. Con lui in campo, il Real Madrid ha vinto l'80% delle partite, mentre in sua assenza si è fermato al 61%. Le merengues hanno anche concesso meno retti (1 a partita, contro 1,2). (Opta)
Tall, strong, athletic and technically gifted, the young Frenchman is the embodiment of the modern day centre-back. He hasn’t even reached 50 games for Real Madrid, but in that short space of time he’s distinguished himself as one of Europe’s most promising young defenders.
Injury slowed the France international’s progress momentarily, but now he’s back in the team and playing with composure belying his age.
92. Branislav Ivanovic
Ivanovic ha vinto il 93% degl interventi con la palla nelle gare di qualificazioni ai mondiali del 2014 con la maglia della Serbia. (Opta)
Scoring the stoppage-time winner in the Europa League final was fitting for the man who was denied the chance to play in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph 12 months earlier.
A picture of consistency since arriving from Lokomotiv Moscow in 2008, the Serbian featured 59 times last season as the Blues recovered from yet more managerial turmoil to end 2012/13 by securing third spot as well as more silverware.
91. Mario Gomez
Sapevate che...Tutti i 13 gol realizzati quest'anno da Mario Gomez sono stati messi a segno dall'interno dell'area di rigore. (Opta)
A goal machine that polarises opinion. In four years at Bayern Munich he scored 112 goals in 172 games, helping the club win seven major honours, including the Champions League.
But that wasn’t enough for the German champions, as they entered a new era under Pep Guardiola. Gomez chose Fiorentina over Real Madrid, but his career with the Viola has stalled thanks to a knee injury. Whatever you may think of the other aspects of his game, he’s one of the deadliest finishers on the planet.