In fact, every single one of the players to make the team plies their trade in the Spanish top flight. The line-up was revealed at Monday’s FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala in Zurich and awards handed out to the eleven who made the grade.
Representing five countries in all, the dream team of 2012 features five Real Madrid players, five from Barcelona and one from Atletico Madrid.
The men in question are Iker Casillas in goal; Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Daniel Alves and Marcelo in defence; Xabi Alonso, Xavi and Andres Iniesta in midfield, and the deadly trio of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao up front.
Speaking to FIFA.com, Barça centre-half Pique had this to say about the make-up of team: “The fact that they all play in the Spanish league shows that we’re doing things right. Personally it’s a great honour for me to sharing a place with players as important at Cristiano Ronaldo, [Lionel] Messi and [Andres] Iniesta.”
His club colleague Dani Alves gave a similarly effusive reaction to the news. Relaxed and smiling, the Brazilian said: “It’s easier to pick up individual prizes when you have a great team. It’s a very great honour, without doubt, and we should to enjoy it.”
A midfield star for both Barcelona and UEFA European champions Spain last year, Xavi Hernandez was also delighted at his inclusion: “All of us here have been fortunate enough to have had another fantastic year with our clubs and national teams, though this is an especially happy moment for Spanish football.”
A special award
What made the honour even more important for the players was the fact that the selection was made by their fellow professionals.
Discussing this aspect of the award with FIFA.com, Alves said: “This vote is not about whether the fans like you or not. The people making the decision make a living from the game and they know how difficult it is. They have a real feeling for the sport and they’ve got experience. To be voted for by people from the profession, who know what they’re talking about, makes it special.”
Xavi echoed the thoughts of his Brazilian club-mate: “It’s a great honour because football is a very competitive environment. What could be more satisfying than being selected by colleagues from other teams and other leagues?”
As far as this imaginary XI is concerned, the Barcelona schemer would be the perfect linkman for the fearsome three-pronged front line formed by Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao.
“It’s a wonderful honour to be in this team again,” said a focused Ronaldo. “It shows that I’ve managed to maintain my form throughout my career.”
Looking somewhat more relaxed and wearing his customary smile, Falcao said he was proud for two reasons: firstly at being the only Colombian in the side, and secondly because he is the only player not to run out for either Real Madrid or Barcelona.
“When you see who the rest of the players are then it begins to sink in a little,” said El Tigre, who added: “It’s a real privilege to be surrounded by so many stars, a real source of pride both for me and for Atletico Madrid. The fact that the verdict comes from other professional players bring it into focus a bit more and makes it more interesting for us. I’m very grateful to them all.”