Nyon (Switzerland), Jan 8 (IANS) Barcelona forwards Lionel Messi, Neymar and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo were named in European football’s governing body UEFA’s 2015 Team of the Year, announced here on Friday. UEFA revealed their starting line-up as voted for by users of their official website. A total of five Barcelona players were in the team, including skipper Messi, striker Neymar, defenders Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué and midfielder Andrés Iniesta. Barcelona’s arch-rivals Real Madrid had three players featuring in the line-up. These were defender Sergio Ramos, midfielder James Rodríguez and forward Ronaldo. German football giants Bayern Munich had two players — goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender David Alaba. French international midfielder Paul Pogba of Juventus filled the final spot. Messi was picked by 70 percent of website users while Alexis Sánchez led the Twitter votes despite missing out on the overall XI. Neymar, Pogba and Rodríguez took the all-time number of selected players to 74.
Ronaldo was the first to 10 selections and uniquely has appeared in more than one position: midfield (2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) and up front (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Ronaldo is involved for the ninth year in a row and features alongside Lionel Messi for the seventh time. Iniesta equalled Xavi Hernández and Ronaldo’s record of five midfield selections. Pogba became the third 22-year-old to make their debut appearance after Cristian Chivu (2002) and Gareth Bale (2011). Only Cesc Fàbregas (19 in 2006) and 21-year-olds Cristiano Ronaldo (2004), Lionel Messi (2008) and David Alaba (2013) have been younger when first picked.
Dani Alves was the first Brazilian to four selections; Lionel Messi is the only South American with more. UEFA team of the year 2015: Manuel Neuer, Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, David Alaba, Andres Iniesta, Paul Pogba, James Rodriguez, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar.
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