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The European team of the decade

Taha Memon
ANALYST
Feature
03 Dec 2019, 15:47 IST

Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the greatest European player of all time
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the greatest European player of all time

The 2010s were a great decade for football. In terms of both entertainment and quality, the fans got the best of both worlds as we were treated to some amazing spectacles over the last ten years.

From Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo dominating the sport to the rise and fall of certain clubs, the 2010s have been a roller coaster ride. We have also seen the emergence of some world-class players who will go down as some of the greatest to ever play the game.

Here, we take a look at the best players from one continent - Europe. Most of us support European clubs and love to see them battle it out for supremacy. In this list, we assemble the best of the best as we make a combined XI of the best European players this decade -

Also read - Champions League Team of the Decade

Note - Only performances from this decade are considered. Therefore, certain players who retired too early this decade or declined a lot are not included in this list.

Goalkeeper - Manuel Neuer

Tottenham Hotspur v Bayern Muenchen: Group B - UEFA Champions League
Tottenham Hotspur v Bayern Muenchen: Group B - UEFA Champions League

This one is a no-brainer. Although David De Gea had a brilliant decade, the Spaniard does not match the consistency and resume of Manuel Neuer, who has easily been the best goalkeeper of this decade.

Making the most saves in the Champions League and leading his national team to victory in the 2014 World Cup, the German international has achieved it all this decade. Since his move to Bayern Munich, Neuer has been playing at another level.

The shot-stopper is agile, quick off his feet, has amazing reflexes and can pass the ball well. His place on this list is unquestionable.

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Defence

Right-back - Philip Lahm

Philip Lahm is one of the best defenders ever
Philip Lahm is one of the best defenders ever

Pep Guardiola described Philip Lahm as "the most intelligent player I have ever coached." That is big praise coming from a man who has coached the likes of Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez.

Lahm was Germany's captain when the team won the World Cup in 2014, and he was Bayern's captain when they completed the treble in 2013. Although the German international retired in 2017, not including him here would be a crime.

Not only is he the best right-back of this generation, but Lahm is also one of the greatest defenders ever.

Centre-back - Sergio Ramos

Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid CF - La Liga
Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

In terms of pure defending, the likes of Gorgio Chiellini and Vincent Kompany might make this list over the Real Madrid captain. However, there is an X-factor to Sergio Ramos that few players across history have possessed - his ability to perform in big games.

His header in injury time against Atletico Madrid in 2014 essentially kick-started Real Madrid's Champions League domination. He has scored against the likes of Bayern Munich too, and he steps up defensively too when his club needs him. With four Champions League titles this decade (three as a captain), Ramos' inclusion here is a no-brainer.

Centre-back - Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique has been one of the best defenders of this era
Gerard Pique has been one of the best defenders of this era

The Spanish defender has won the World Cup and the Euros this decade, as well as being Barcelona's longest-standing and most consistent defender across the last ten years. Gerard Pique is often criticised due to his dynamic personality, but he is, in fact, one of the most underrated players of this generation.

Consistent at the back for Barcelona and Spain despite managerial and personnel changes, Pique has made more clearances (410) than any other defender in the Champions League this decade. He has also been an integral part of a dominant Barcelona squad, and he deserves his place here.

Left-back - David Alaba

Austria v North Macedonia - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier
Austria v North Macedonia - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier

Probably the most versatile player on this list, David Alaba has blossomed at the left-back role with Bayern Munich. It is astounding to think that the Austrian international is only 27, as he made his first-team debut for Bayern back in 2010. Since 2012, the player has been one of the best fullbacks in the world.

Alaba reads the game brilliantly and is immense on both the defensive and offensive end of the field. He is a record 6-time Austrian Footballer of the Year and continues to be one of the best left-backs in the world.

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