December 28th, 2012
04:06 PM ET

Fantasy football: Pedro Pinto's team of 2012

Do you agree with Pedro Pinto's selections for a 2012 fantasy football team? (CNN/Inez Torre)
Do you agree with Pedro Pinto's selections for a 2012 fantasy football team? (CNN/Inez Torre)

As the end of 2012 draws near, it's time to look back on the players who dominated world football this year.

These are my picks for a fantasy XI that would conquer all, but I also want to know your dream team. Is there anyone you think deserves a place in this line-up?

Have your say in the comments box below.


Petr Cech - The Czech enjoyed a fantastic 2011-12 season at Chelsea. He was decisive during the Blues’ historic European Champions League campaign, especially against Barcelona and Bayern Munich. What he managed to do in the final in Munich was incredible, saving a potentially game-winning penalty in extra-time and then coming up with a few more stops in the shootout.


Jordi Alba - One of the revelations of the past year for club and country. After a stellar season with Valencia, Jordi earned a big-money move to Barcelona and then showed everyone why the Catalans splashed the cash with a string of virtuoso displays at Euro 2012. A versatile left back who is equally adept defending and attacking.

Vincent Kompany - The Belgium international was a rock at the center of Manchester City’s defense during the English club’s Premier League-winning season. If other players around him wavered, Kompany could always be counted on to be at the right place at the right time. He was a beast in defense and also found the time to score some crucial goals, including the winner in a decisive derby against Manchester United.

Giorgio Chiellini - I have always been a big fan of the big Italian center back, and he was at his best this past year. With Juventus, he was immaculate, very much the leader of a backline which became one of the best in Europe. Then at Euro 2012 he again showed his worth with a few phenomenal performances. He is rough, tough and a nightmare for most strikers to deal with.

Sergio Ramos - One of the most underrated defenders in the world, but crucial for Real Madrid and Spain. Ramos is strong in the air but it is on the ground where he does most of the damage, whether it is sliding into crucial tackles or pushing forward with the ball at his feet.


Yaya Toure - Forget Sergio Aguero, Manchester City would never have been in a position to win the Premier League title without Toure. He was immense last season for the English champions. We already knew Yaya could defend, but the way in which he drove his team forward at key points during the year was fantastic. He also helped Ivory Coast make the final of the African Cup of Nations, and has been named the continent's best player for the second year in a row.

Andrea Pirlo - Just like fine Italian wine, Andrea gets better with age. He inspired Juventus to their first league title in almost a decade in his first season in Turin, and then led Italy to the final of Euro 2012 with a series of scintillating displays. Pirlo may be on the wrong side of 30, but he is at the top of his game and can set the pace and tone of a game with ease.

Andres Iniesta - I have never been Iniesta’s biggest fan. I always believed the midfielder needed Xavi to be at his best in order to shine both for Barcelona and Spain. However, at Euro 2012 he was by far his side’s best player, dazzling us with his skill and vision both in the center of the park and on the wing. Andres became a world-class superstar this past year both with club and country.


Lionel Messi - Are there any adjectives and superlatives left to describe little Leo? His scoring record practically speaks for itself: 91 goals in 2012 is just an absurd number, isn’t it? Messi is unstoppable and we should feel privileged to be watching a player who may be the best of all time. His next mission? To lead Argentina to the World Cup title in Brazil in 2014.

Cristiano Ronaldo - He can score goals with every part of his body at any time. Cristiano is probably the most complete player out there and he delivers the goods week in and week out. Even if he must improve his attitude, there is no questioning his skill, and the Portugal international is a joy to watch. Ronaldo was simply superb in Real Madrid’s La Liga title-winning run and also led his nation to the semifinal of Euro2012 nearly singlehandedly.

Falcao - The best finisher on the planet. This man is what we call a true Matador. If there is a loose ball anywhere in the area, chances are he will get to it faster than anyone else and smash it into the back of the net. Radamel has the whole package necessary to be a lethal striker – speed, acceleration, positioning and killer instinct. The Colombian should stay at Atletico Madrid in the January transfer window but expect him to make a big-money move next European summer.

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soundoff (56 Responses)

    Great selection! I guess cavani, Bale, Mata and Xabi Alonso are on the bench then!

    December 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  2. Jesse,amsterdam

    I not totally agree,
    Falcao is a great striker though, but I think Zlatan should replace him! He is from antother level like Messi and CR7. And he can be desicive out of nothing and force something.
    For the rest, pretty nice squad

    December 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Reply
    • heyomayo

      I'm liking the team! You know your football. Personally I would've picked Mascherano for the centre back position but that's different views for you. 🙂

      January 3, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Reply
  3. Killian

    I never usually agree fully with Pedro's articles.

    But I have to say that team is spot, although you could some players could come in there easily.

    Here is an alternative team. Just some changes if some people disagree with the above selection.





    Messi-------Falcao/Van Persie------Ronaldo--

    December 28, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  4. Nimo

    Goalkeeper: Casillas

    Defenders: P. Lahm, Pepe, Sergio Ramo, Jordi Alba

    Midfielders: Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Ribery

    Forwards: Messi, C. Ronaldo

    December 28, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Reply

    Esse português não entende nada de futebol! Essa seleção dele é da Europa? Então, especifique a notícia como uma seleção européia....

    December 29, 2012 at 12:16 am | Reply
  6. Anrick

    Ramos Thiago silva Chielini Cole


    Iniesta Toure

    Messi Falcao Ronaldo

    December 29, 2012 at 12:59 am | Reply
  7. fome

    I would replace alba with lahm and would remove kompany to include ivanovic

    Van persie would replace ronaldo or be his substitute

    December 29, 2012 at 8:16 am | Reply
  8. Blurguy

    Personal preference





    Messi-Van Persie–Ronaldo–

    December 29, 2012 at 8:25 am | Reply
  9. Armando

    My comment will be bilingual, in two parts: football is played not JUST in Europe and IF Mr. Pedro Pinto really worked for a TRULY international network, its "fantasy" team had to be quite different indeed. It is really a pity to see this because most of the time I like Mr. Pinto's remarks about this great sport. Go back home and do your homework. If you don't, you are certainly contributing to CNN loss of hundred of millions of viewers on the parts of the world you are ignoring.

    Segunda parte – vou ter de concordar completamente com o PauloT acima caso a notícia não seja retificada.

    December 29, 2012 at 9:33 am | Reply
  10. DB

    Where's Thiago Silva?

    December 29, 2012 at 10:26 am | Reply
  11. Not a southern european

    Dear Pedro,

    soccer is played in other European coutries as well. You should check it our to broaden your horizon.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:36 am | Reply
  12. Erind Maci

    The front three are obvious. Toure and Iniesta are justified, but Kompany, Pirlo, Cech?? I f you check the stats you'll find these players more media icons than really decisive players. Even Ramos that you have on the right, has been playing central defender for quite some time now and he has proven shaky especially in big games.

    December 29, 2012 at 11:57 am | Reply
  13. Killian


    Ibrahimovic tends to disappear in games and its very hard to predict how he would play in a match, but he's still a very good player.

    Besides this is a list for, who are the best players for 2012 and for me Falcao has done more this year than Ibrahimovic, even Van Persie has been better this year than Ibrahimovic.

    December 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  14. obaid almulla






    December 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  15. Claudio

    Pedro: do you only watch european football? C'mon, you can do better than that.

    December 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  16. DB

    By the looks of things Mr.Pedro has only taken a look at two of Europe's leagues this year. (:

    And even then, he has not done a very good job.

    I would say Aguero and V.Persie have played much better than Falcao throughout 2012.

    Hart has been the best keeper by a mile.

    I would pick Bale for my squad over Iniesta and Toure any day 🙂

    Just saying!

    December 29, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  17. Kenwrich Gijsbertha

    I would make only one change; Pirlo is good but Xavi Hernandez of Barca
    is much better. This player is very much underrated.

    December 30, 2012 at 1:32 am | Reply
  18. Joaquim Santos

    I place Casillas not Chec

    December 30, 2012 at 3:38 am | Reply
  19. km394

    The highest level of football is play in Europe which is why I fully agree with the team with the minor tweak of Pirlo at the expense of Toure. Good article nonetheless! check out my blog and tell me what you think

    December 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  20. Nnoruka Udechukwu

    Thank God you left out Neymar of Brazil!

    December 31, 2012 at 3:01 am | Reply
  21. chewyonmebwoots

    as i dont c enough to make fair,jojmont.....that team is goohd enoth4me

    January 1, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  22. Marcia

    What about Neymar, from Santos Football Club? He's young (20) and Brazil's best player!

    January 2, 2013 at 12:21 am | Reply
  23. Ashley Rebelo

    I am a big fan of Pedro pinto and his knowledge in the world of football...but I think Gareth Bale instead of Jordi Alba and Casillas instead of Cech should make the playing XI, But still it is a formidable team he put up.....please tell me that coentrao, xavi, mata, Mario gomez, el sharawy,david luiz and aguero make the bench

    January 2, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  24. Red

    where is suarez!?

    January 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  25. Ana

    Para Paulot

    Ainda que três dos escolhidos não são europeus.
    Não sei se é o Português ou o Brasileiro que nao entende

    January 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  26. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Where is Zlatan Ibrahimovic ? Otherwise Senhor Pedro has offered a formidable line up. I am happy for the world class defender Vince. He keeps on improving all the time. Even if named captain of the side, the polyglot from Flanders will do wonders on and off the field.

    January 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  27. Rob

    A team of 11 is just not fair to Thiago Silva and Van Persie and it is not fair to exclude any of the 11. I agree that Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Ibrahimovich head the next team. How about a team of 11 with at least these 5 as replacements?

    January 4, 2013 at 5:12 am | Reply
  28. a

    GK: Cech
    DF: Abate, Kompany, Thiago Silva, Ashely cole
    MF: Iniesta, ozil, Toure YAYA

    - VAN PERSIE, AGUERO?? no!

    January 4, 2013 at 5:23 am | Reply
  29. Leonardo Pereira

    Mr. Pedro, do you know any team south american? Do you know Corinthians? This club is actual champion Brazilian league (2011), Copa Libertadores and Fifa Club World Cup. Brazil is the better football's team all time.

    January 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  30. samba sagrado

    pedro pinto is a big fan of me, but i prefer this squad

    chiellini ramos pepe alba

    xabi alonso
    ozil iniesta

    messi c ronaldo

    January 4, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  31. LK


    January 5, 2013 at 7:37 am | Reply
  32. Carlton Sealy

    If FIFA was a nation and if it was it would of been one of the richest, the world would have call for sanction and a boycott against them for tolerating and not taking a tougher stance against RACISM, so why not just do that, because the only way to stop RACISM in football is, not to tolerate it at all and i agree with both teams stopping the game and walking off the field, also there should be bans and fines on clubs or countries, so FIFA your campaign against RACISM, #KickRacismOutOfFootball is now a campaign for FIFA to take a tough stance against RACISM #KickRacismOutOfFIFA

    January 5, 2013 at 8:35 am | Reply
  33. Renee

    Great team – SO good to see that Sergio Ramos receives the credit he so richly deserves.

    Best defender in the world.

    January 5, 2013 at 9:04 am | Reply
  34. Glauco Ortolano

    Mr. Pedro Pinto have become somewhat of a publicist of European clubs, as his articles and selections only show how bias he and CNN have become. Ignoring South American clubs and players only show CNN's sheer ignorance about the sport of football. Let's set the record straight for the public's sake, as deception should not be so bluntly publicized in a forum of the caliber of CNN.

    In 2012, there were only two significant worldwide competitions in football.
    1- The London Olympics which had an all Latin American final between Mexico and Brazil, and Mexico won the gold medal.
    2- The FIFA Club World Cup final between the European champions Chelsea and Latin American champions, Corinthians of Brazil, and Corinthians won the competition.

    With that, I can only say that CNN is doing a disservice to its readership by promoting the supremacy of "European Football" as facts and stats should speak louder than any publicist's attempt to ignore them. I believe it is time for CNN to review its sports editorial board, as my post is not the only one claiming for more fairness.

    January 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • garymorley

      Re: Glauco Ortolano
      Sorry for the delay in publishing your post. We have a small team and it got lost over the weekend.

      January 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  35. momo

    i can totaly agree with you Pedro you peaked the strongest squad possible this year i would only make one change "Robin Van Persie instead of Falcao"

    January 6, 2013 at 10:40 am | Reply
  36. Maarten

    I do miss Zlatan in this selection. His incredible skills sometimes surpass Messi

    January 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  37. casey

    how can you put Ramos in this team,what about dani alves,philip lahm,maicon,any day any time they are better than Ramos.for the keepers,Buffon,cech,neur and Hart are all far better than casillas,he isnt the keeper he was 5-10 years ago

    January 6, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  38. Jack

    This team is pretty good. Obviously people have their own opinions, and each person have their own favorites. For what it's worth, here's my team.

    DF: Jordi ALBA, Matts HUMMELS, Vincent KOMPANY, Sergio RAMOS
    MF: Yaya TOURE, Andreas INIESTA, Juan MATA
    FW: Lionel MESSI, Christiano RONALDO, Radamel FALCAO

    SUBS (9): Petr CECH, Thiago SILVA, Branislav IVANOVIC, Cesc FABREGAS, Andrea PIRLO, Xabi ALONSO, Robin VAN PERSIE, Sergio AGUERO, Zlatan IBRAHIMOVIC

    January 7, 2013 at 5:33 am | Reply
  39. Tony Flags

    Is this person informed about football leagues outside of Europe? I am not so sure the best football is played in Europe. I think it looks nicer on TV, greener fields, better cameras, but not necessarily better football.

    January 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  40. monty

    Ramos Kompany chiellini Alba
    Mata Iniesta Ronaldo
    RVP Messi

    Falcao's not so very fast start to the season puts him just behind rVp for me.

    January 8, 2013 at 3:28 am | Reply
  41. pardes5


    Lahm Ramos Chillini Alba


    Ozil Messi Inesita

    Falcao Ronaldo

    January 8, 2013 at 6:39 am | Reply
  42. barlamanka

    Fantasy football: Pedro Pinto's team of 2012

    i agree is the best team :

    January 9, 2013 at 12:47 am | Reply
  43. a

    i agree is the best team of 2012

    January 11, 2013 at 5:48 am | Reply
  44. Hunt Daddy

    Did anyone else actually watch Sergio Ramos play last year? An overrated thug of a (central) defender. His positioning is so poor.


    January 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  45. Vitocorleone

    Glauco Ortolano:

    The Olympics is not a major football competition. It is a competition for young players. That's it.

    The Toyota Cup is taken much more seriously in Latin America than in Europe. A competition with only one team per continent competing cannot claim to be a serious World Cup. If you really believe Corinthians is the best club in the World then you should think seriously about it.

    The best players in the world happen to play in Europe (with the possible exception of Neymar) and in the squad I can see 2 South American players and one African, so they haven't totally been ignored.

    January 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  46. Daniel

    For all those that complained here about Pedro Pinto's team being only European based I ask, do you have any arguments whatsoever or are just criticising for the sake of it? Really, look at South American football with objectivity. Where do the best players in SA leagues get transfered to? Europe. In which continent do most of the players that get called for the national teams (obviously the best), come World Cup and Copa America, play? Yes, that's right, Europe. Corinthians won the Club World Cup because English teams do not care about the competition. Like most of Europeans, it has to be said. And Neymar's Santos was completely trounced by Barcelona last year so no argument there. About the Olympics, I must remind that was a U23 tournament where not even Mexico's and Brazil's team had their best players. They had the best young players, which is different. Besides, I followed Brazil with great interest because I find they have plenty of potential there. Yes, potential, which means they are still not the best. I found out Neymar disappointing. Obviously he wasn't Brazil's best player in London. Who I though were the best players? Oscar, Hulk and Leandro Damião. Where 2 of these players play? Yes, Europe. By the way, it is said that the third might join Tottenham soon... Finally, I have read some reports that a certain Clarence Seedorf is still enjoying fine performances in Brazil. That certainly closes the discussion for me. Don't get me wrong on this, I find that SA leagues have plenty of potential, specially Brazil's and given the right Economic grown and investment it might become sooner rather than later the best league with the best players in the world. It is just that we are not there yet. Certainly not this year.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Reply
  47. Desmond

    up barcelona

    January 23, 2013 at 8:00 am | Reply
  48. NZ Football CEO

    My team:


    Lahm Chiellini Hummels Alba

    Xavi Iniesta

    Ronaldo Messi Bale

    January 24, 2013 at 1:28 am | Reply
  49. Glauco Ortolano

    The attitude I find on some of these posts above only prove to me how influenced some people have become with all this media hype which portrays European football as the "best in the world". For instance, to say that Brazilian football has a "lot of potential" sounds very condescending to me, to say the least.

    Just for the record. In the last 20 years (last 5 cups), Brazil has reached a FIFA World Cup of Nations 3 times (60%) and has won 2 titles. Which other nation has come even close to that record? Certainly not Spain with a record of 1 finish in 19 cups. Brazil, on the other hand has reached a World Cup final 7 times in 19 cups. That's like saying that Brazil is capable of reaching a World Cup final almost 40% of the time. And a 7X1 differential certainly means a lot of more than just "good potential".

    As for the FIFA Club World Cup, ever since its inception in 2000, Brazilian clubs have won 4 titles, Italian clubs 2 titles, Spanish clubs 2 titles, and English clubs 1 title. Once again, Brazilian clubs have won an impressive 30% of all cups.

    Football is a sport not an art movement. And as far as I know, sports are competitive events which we watch to find out who the winner is. And the winner should be acclaimed as the best.

    So, saying that a competition of the caliber of the FIFA Club World Cup is not important because people in Europe don't pay attention to it is just ludicrous. Europe brings their champion, we bring ours, and then we see who the best one is. It's that simple.

    Everything else are just opinions, and opinions come in all shapes and sizes and are worth less than a penny each; whereas proven records are simply indisputable. So, I strongly recommend that one should base his/her opinion on facts and not on perceptions for that is what separates the fools from the wise.

    January 24, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  50. K.S.Venkat

    I would like to have Daniel Alwes(Barcelona) inplace of Yaya Toure, because is team man, whose crosses have been deadly.

    January 25, 2013 at 6:39 am | Reply
  51. Omer

    Goal Keeper: Casillas

    Defenders: Poul--Alba--Pique

    Midfielders: Xavi--Ineista--Ozil--Benzima

    Strickers: Bale--Messi--Falcao

    January 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  52. sadiki

    OMG! Where's samuel Et'O Phils. a wonderful striker

    January 30, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Reply
  53. Yannik

    Think Alba doesn't deserve his spot.

    January 31, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  54. Shahzad Virani

    My team of 2012:
    Cech, A.Cole, Hummels, Kompany, Alba, Xavi, Iniesta, Ronaldo, Messi, Mata, Van Persie

    February 5, 2013 at 9:59 am | Reply

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