Van Dijk or Kompany? Suarez or Lewandowski? – Who joins Messi, Ronaldo in Team of the Decade?

By Sports Desk December 30, 2019

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the 2010s in terms of individual awards and moments of pure inspiration.

Future generations will look back on this past decade as a period obsessed with the two generational talents - their often-exaggerated rivalry exacerbated by spending such a long time on opposite sides of the Clasico divide.

But, while Ronaldo and Messi have filled more column inches than any other player on the planet, there are plenty of others who have been world leaders in their respective positions.

Having looked back over the last 10 years, using Opta data for inspiration, we have selected a Team of the Decade. But who makes the cut?

Is David de Gea selected in goal? Does Luis Suarez join Messi in attack? Has Virgil van Dijk done enough for inclusion? Find out below...

OMNISPORT TEAM OF THE DECADE

Manuel Neuer

There is not much more Manuel Neuer could have achieved over the past 10 years. For much of that time he has been one of the globe's most dependable goalkeepers, even if he has shown signs of decline since a spate of foot injuries. A veteran of seven Bundesliga title triumphs and a World Cup winner with Germany, Neuer boasts a save percentage of 74.2 per cent and has comfortably the most clean sheets (139) this decade in the German top flight.

Dani Alves

Has there ever been a better right-back than Dani Alves? The Brazilian stands to leave an impressive legacy, not just through his thrilling style of play, but with his record-breaking trophy haul of 43 after captaining Brazil to Copa America success this year. Despite being a right-back, he claimed 67 assists in league action through the 2010s, though his greatest contribution came in LaLiga with Barcelona, for whom he set up 51 goals. Marcelo (48) is the closest to him, but he has played 77 times more than the current Sao Paulo star.

Vincent Kompany

Although a brilliant player at his best, it is understandable to suggest Vincent Kompany never reached his ceiling due to injuries. Nevertheless, the Belgian will go down as a Premier League great such has been his impact with Manchester City, with whom he enjoyed four title wins. Kompany recorded 83 Premier League clean sheets in the 2010s, just 10 fewer than record-setter Kyle Walker, who has played 57 more matches. His leadership qualities have been missed by City this season.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is a player who often polarises opinion, but he's one of only three players to have been at Madrid for the entire decade, so he must be doing something right. An undisputed leader and fierce competitor, Ramos is a big-game player like few others and boasts a goal-scoring record even many midfielders would be happy with, having netted 43 times in LaLiga since the start of 2010, more than any other defender. Over the past 10 years, he's helped Los Blancos to a remarkable four Champions League titles, while he won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.

Jordi Alba

At his best, Jordi Alba was almost unstoppable. The flying left-back became a staple and key outlet for one of the great Barcelona teams, with his driving runs – on or off the ball – often creating havoc. A master at making a darting run into the box before cutting a pass back to create a chance, Alba has 38 LaLiga assists to his name for Barca, a record bettered by only Dani Alves and Marcelo among defenders. He gets the nod ahead of his Madrid counterpart as his assist haul is from 72 fewer matches.

Luka Modric

The only player to break the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi Ballon d'Or duopoly, Luka Modric has enjoyed a wonderful decade. A vital part of the Croatia team that enjoyed an historic run to the 2018 World Cup final, Modric also played a big role in Madrid's incredible Champions League domination. Toni Kroos (11,260) is the only midfielder to have completed more passes in LaLiga than Modric (10,759), while he laid on 42 assists and created 522 chances.

N'Golo Kante

If there was an award for the most likeable player of the decade, N'Golo Kante would surely be a frontrunner. Sadly there is no such thing, so he'll have to contend with inclusion in this team. Arguably the key cog in Leicester City's remarkable Premier League title win, Kante followed that up with similarly impressive form at Chelsea and with France, winning the World Cup with Les Bleus last year. He has made 912 tackles and interceptions in the Premier League, putting him fifth among players with 200 appearances or fewer this decade, and each of those who rank higher have played at least 20 matches more.

David Silva

When David Silva leaves Man City at the end of the season, there will inevitably be a debate as to whether he can be regarded the Premier League's greatest 'import'. That this will even be suggested tells you the impact he has had. No one gets close to Silva's record of 89 Premier League assists in the 2010s, with the Spaniard almost certainly the most consistent creator the division has seen in the past 10 years. He was similarly important for Spain until his post-World Cup retirement last year, having previously lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2010 and at Euro 2012, eventually accumulating 125 caps.

Lionel Messi

Where does one even begin with Lionel Messi? If any single player has defined the 2010s – from an individual perspective – in world football, it is surely the Barcelona talisman. In LaLiga, Messi has amassed 505 goal involvements (369 goals, 136 assist) in 343 matches since the start of the decade, routinely carrying Barca to victory. He has won every trophy possible with the Blaugrana over the past 10 years and claimed five Ballons d'Or, with his 2019 victory giving him a record-breaking sixth. Although now 32, he remains frighteningly decisive – all that eludes him is international success with Argentina.

Robert Lewandowski

A long list of immense strikers have starred throughout the 2010s, but arguably chief among them – Ronaldo aside – is Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. Having moved from Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped turn into Champions League contenders, the Poland international has developed into a remarkable all-round striker. In 307 Bundesliga games he has 221 goals from 1,163 attempts, meaning he scores every 5.2 shots – by contrast, Ronaldo needs 6.4 efforts per goal. Although he is yet to win Europe's elite club competition, there is little doubt the Pole appears to be getting better with age having already notched 19 league goals this term, just three short of his total for 2018-19.

Cristiano Ronaldo

In the somewhat tiresome 'Ronaldo or Messi' debate about which superstar is "better", the former can at least point to his international successes with Portugal as something that sets him apart, having lifted Euro 2016 and the 2018-19 Nations League. That is just the tip of the iceberg for his brilliance in the 2010s, however. Across spells with Real Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo has scored 335 league goals and laid on 95 assists. With Los Blancos he helped inspire four Champions League successes, also winning a couple of LaLiga titles. What a privilege it has been to see Ronaldo and Messi in the same era.

Related items

  • Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes: I'm the new Veron! Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes: I'm the new Veron!

    Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes joked he is the new Juan Sebastian Veron after sporting a goatee while isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.

    While a number of players have shaved their heads due to social distancing policies during the coronavirus pandemic making it tricky to get a professional trim, Fernandes has only taken the razor to his facial hair.

    United team-mate Diogo Dalot teased him by tweeting that he now looked like a character in Netflix drama Narcos.

    However, Fernandes believes his new look shared greater similarities with a former United player.

    "We've found the new Juan Sebastian Veron! But the hair, the hair needs to stay," he told MUTV.

    Fernandes has quickly become a key figure since arriving at United from Sporting CP in January in a deal worth £67.6million (€80m).

    The Portugal international is yet to taste defeat in his nine appearances for the club and has contributed three goals and four assists.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's backing has been important to him since he arrived at Old Trafford, but he says he would have been ready to give "200 per cent" to force himself into the manager's plans in different circumstances.

    "For me, the most important was obviously the confidence of the coach. I need to know I am backed from the coach, because sometimes when you change club, not every time the coach wants you," said Fernandes.

    "Not like I need to come because the coach wants me to play, no, not like this, but I want to feel the confidence from the coach: 'You come, you are a choice for me and you come. I need you, I want you.'

    "It's not like you come and I ask, 'But I will play?' No, this for me is not the point. For me, the point is the confidence he has in me. If he has confidence in me, then the rest is working."

    He continued: "I feel the confidence from the club and I feel also the confidence from the coach, Ole, and also if maybe the choice was not from the coach, I come.

    "I come and I will show to the coach I can play, I can be a choice for him, because sometimes you need to press yourself to be better and give more.

    "Maybe if I come and I am not the choice for the coach, I will know I need to give not 100 per cent, 200 per cent, because the coach needs to see, he needs to see me, he needs to understand that I need to play, I want to play more than the others.

    "In your mind, you want to play more than the others, but the others are thinking the same way with you.

    "This is the confidence we need to have to keep improving, to keep training more and the healthy battles you need in the team. You are competing with someone, this one, this one and this one.

    "You need to give more than him and he will be thinking the same way with me and then, if you're thinking the same way, you can be much better. Me and him.

    "It doesn't matter who plays, you will train better, I will train better and so the team will be better."

  • Haaland already the best in the box in Europe, claims Nordtveit Haaland already the best in the box in Europe, claims Nordtveit

    Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland is the best in Europe in the box and could well be the world's leading talent in the future, according to Norway team-mate Havard Nordtveit.

    After surging into the spotlight with a series of phenomenal Champions League displays at Salzburg, Dortmund stumped up €25million to activate the release clause in Haaland's contract and bring him to the Bundesliga.

    The 19-year-old has maintained his stunning form, scoring 12 goals in 11 appearances – seven of which have come as part of the starting line-up – in all competitions for BVB before the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to action in all major leagues across Europe.

    Nordtveit, who also plays in the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim, expects Haaland to remain on an upward trajectory in part due to his dedication in off-field areas.

    "He is perhaps already the best in Europe in the penalty area. He is also super professional, focusing a lot on things like sleep and nutrition," Nordtveit told SID.

    "He does everything he can to become the best player in the world. It could work out.

    "He has already broken the boundaries. You can barely stop him. Give him a few more years. If he can use his body even more, it will be difficult for any defender in the Bundesliga and from bigger leagues."

    He added: "He's not a superstar in the dressing room. He has remained true to himself and a great person."

  • Opta Woe: The worst discipline stats in Europe's top five leagues in 2019-20 Opta Woe: The worst discipline stats in Europe's top five leagues in 2019-20

    The resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving players with plenty of time to analyse their performances this season.

    Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking, passing, defending and goalkeeping numbers from 2019-20, but who has been letting the side down with shoddy discipline.

    We have analysed five metrics for players now operating under the increasing scrutiny of VAR across the elite divisions.

    These include the worst offenders in terms of fouls conceded, penalties conceded, offsides, yellow cards and red cards.

    Check out our list of shame below, which is not the who's who of hotheads you might expect, while a lack of minutes on the field does not necessarily mean a player cannot irritate the officials.

    THE WORST FOUL STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

    BUNDESLIGA:

    Most fouls conceded: Robert Andrich (52) 
    Most penalties conceded: Dedryck Boyata (3)
    Most offsides: Timo Werner (35)
    Most yellow cards: Klaus Gjasula (12)
    Most red cards: Leon Bailey (2)

    LALIGA:

    Most fouls conceded: Jaime Mata (67)
    Most penalties conceded: Ruben Duarte (4)
    Most offsides: Alvaro Morata (28)
    Most yellow cards: Gerard Pique (12)
    Most red cards: Facundo Roncaglia, Zouhair Feddal, Clement Lenglet (all 2)

    LIGUE 1:

    Most fouls conceded: Andy Delort (69)
    Most penalties conceded: Mathieu Debuchy (3)
    Most offsides: Victor Osimhen (33)
    Most yellow cards: Nicolas Pallois (10)
    Most red cards: Ruben Aguilar, Racine Coly, Steven Moreira, Boubakary Soumare, Marcal, Anthony Briancon, Jacques-Alaixys Romao (all 2)

    PREMIER LEAGUE:

    Most fouls conceded: Etienne Capoue (47)
    Most penalties conceded: David Luiz (3)
    Most offsides: Chris Wood (31)
    Most yellow cards: Jorginho (10)
    Most red cards: Christian Kabasele (2)

    SERIE A:

    Most fouls conceded: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (52)
    Most penalties conceded: Koray Gunter (3)
    Most offsides: Cristiano Ronaldo, Rodrigo Palacio (both 21)
    Most yellow cards: Ismael Bennacer (12)
    Most red cards: Bremer, Federico Marchetti, Pawel Dawidowicz, Armando Izzo, Davide Calabria (all 2)

    AND THE TOP FIVE:

    Most fouls conceded: Andy Delort (69)
    Most penalties conceded: Ruben Duarte (4)
    Most offsides: Timo Werner (35)
    Most yellow cards: Ismael Bennacer (12 in 1,620 minutes played)
    Most red cards: Federico Marchetti (2 despite not playing a single minute of Lazio's Serie A season!)

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.