Although it may be remembered as the season when the football’s world governing body was brought to its knees by a host of allegations, but despite FIFA’s continued best attempts to tarnish the beautiful game, the players have stepped up once more.
It’s been a remarkable season all round and although the Premier League has had a dip by its high standards, La Liga’s stars have dazzled once more with the Bundesliga’s best featuring heavily, but most importantly a welcome return for Serie A’s standout players.
With plenty of great performers to chose from and a number of great stages for them to showcase their skills, here are the class of 2014/15’s best XI.
TEAMtalk’s World XI (4-3-3): Neuer, Alves, Chiellini, Bonucci, Alaba, Pogba, De Bruyne, Hazard, Messi, Suarez, Neymar.
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
The world’s favourite sweeper-keeper has continued to show why he’s the man to beat after another exceptional season between the sticks coming on the back of a World Cup triumph.
While David De Gea has produced some wonderful displays in the Premier League, Germany’s No 1 kept 20 league clean sheets to the Spaniard’s 11 last season.
But it isn’t just that stats that weigh in the 29-year-old’s favour with an array of spectacular saves throughout the season, typified by his performance against Barcelona in the Champions League.
Dani Alves (Barcelona)
Despite falling out of favour at the start of the season the Brazilian has been a mainstay in the Barcelona XI that went of to seal the treble in Berlin.
Alves’ form throughout 2014/15 has been vital for Barca’s improved defensive displays while his attacking strength can be highlighted in that he completed 406 passes in the opposition half in the Champions League – the fifth most in the competition.
Perhaps the best compliment that Alves has been paid this season is that his exceptional form has changed Barca minds with the former Sevilla rewarded with a new deal.
Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Italy’s vice-captain has reinforced his place as one of the game’s great defenders with an excellent campaign that saw his side complete a domestic double and, although ruled out by injury in the final, the 30-year-old was, in part, responsible for Juventus’ surprise Champions League form.
Whether the Italian’s absence from the final in Berlin would have made much difference against a rampant Barcelona side is another matter, but his calming qualities on the big stage might have seen the Serie A champions settle before giving away an early goal.
Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
After forming a formidable partnership for club and country it’s impossible not to pick one centre back without the other, and despite John Terry’s renaissance, Bonucci fully deserves his place on merit.
Between the two Italian defenders, Juve kept 27 clean sheets in all competitions last season with Chiellini’s deputy proving to be the perfect partner and the embodiment of consistency having made 52 appearances throughout the season.
David Alaba (Bayern Munich)
The 2014/15 season will probably be one to forget for the young Austrian international.
Two torn MCL’s on both right and left knee cruelly disrupted his season, however the versatile Bayern Munich ace continued to show glimpses of his best, having the third most amount of touches of the ball per game across Europe.
Despite playing 20 less games this season, Alaba chipped in with five goals over the campaign compared with last season’s tally of four, and rightfully takes his place at left-back.
Paul Pogba (Juventus)
Pogba’s meteoric rise from Manchester United castaway to the world’s must-have player has been sensational.
After really announcing himself on the world’s stage last summer in Brazil, the Frenchman has continued to progress at a frightening pace and has become Juve’s stand out player.
With a tally of 10 goals for the campaign, the all-action midfielder was pivotal in the Turin club’s Serie A triumph, but it wasn’t just the amount he’s scored, it’s how he scored them.
Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg)
Another player who has had to move away from the Premier League to make a name and another one that got away. Since failing to establish himself at Chelsea, De Bruyne has not looked back.
Quickly settling in at Wolfsburg since his move in January 2014, the 23-year-old has become the key member of the squad having amassed 16 goals and 27 assists in 2014/15.
The Belgian’s 21 assists in the Bundesliga has set a new record in Germany and as well as personal achievements his performances led the Wolves to second in the league and a goal in DFB-Pokal final helped his side to a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Luckily for Chelsea another Belgian has really shone this season. Easily the Blues’ and Premier League’s standout performer, Hazard cleared up at the awards ceremonies as well as guiding Jose Mourinho’s side to the title.
With Diego Costa forced to watch a large chunk of the second-half of the season from the sidelines, Chelsea’s No 10 took up the majority of the club’s goalscoring duties ending the campaign with 19 in all competitions.
On the back of the 24-year-old’s outstanding season, Mourinho valued his most prized asset at “£100million each leg” and alongside his goals Hazard won the most duels, completed the most dribbles and created the most chances in the league.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Words just don’t do this man justice anymore and as James Marshment highlighted in his awards for European Player of the Season, it’s even been a record-breaking season in terms of the Argentine’s glorious career.
Crucial in Barcelona’s treble-winning season it feels like ancient history that the 27-year-old endured a turbulent spell after a breakdown in relations with boss Luis Enrique that jeopardised Messi’s Barcelona career.
However, disaster was averted and we weren’t deprived of this little genius who continues to rewrite the football manual and has a huge impact on the next two names being on the list.
Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
After his move from Liverpool last summer, plenty of Premier League followers would have envisaged Suarez well to Barcelona but few would have imagined how quickly his partnership with Messi and Neymar was formed.
The Uruguayan has put the finishing touches to an unstoppable attacking trident who have ripped through the domestic and European scene to devastating effect.
On the back of a summer to forget, the 28-year-old’s contribution of 25 goals and 16 assists was the lowest return of the three, but his excellent leading of the front line has been key in allowing his partners to flourish from out wide.
The Three Amigos, MSN and the Holy Trinity, just a few of the nicknames for the Barca front three, but the message is clear – they come as a trio. I can’t stress enough how difficult it was to leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of this XI but even with his immaculate individual record, the Real Madrid ace finished the season with no major club honours.
Despite coming under intense pressure from the Ballon d’Or winner, Neymar deserves to be recoginised for his phenomenal achievements this season.
Finishing the Champions League campaign as the competition’s joint-top scorer with 10, the Brazilian was instrumental in the European success, while the forward also weighed in with 29 domestic goals.