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NEWS: 2019/20 World XI (Part 1 - Defenders)

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

This past season was perhaps the most unusual season in the history of European soccer. What was already an exciting year was rocked when football stood still as a global pandemic took over our world. As a result of Covid-19, football was stopped. The world was robbed of its favorite sport for almost three months until finally, on May 16, it came back. After what seemed like an eternal hiatus, We’ve eventually finished the season, named a champion for virtually every competition, and found some semblance of normalcy amidst these chaotic times. 

During this unprecedented season, there were certain players who stood out above the rest. Ones who were clearly far ahead of everyone else in their position. In this article, I’ve made a starting XI of those players. This is the 2019/20 Team of the Season.

Goalkeeper - This was one of the most competitive positions in the world this year. There was Ederson who stepped up as the leader of Manchester City’s defense and kept the most clean sheets in the Premier League without his best CB. In Germany, Manuel Neuer showed everyone that age is just a number as he wowed with performances that made viewers think they were back in 2014. But despite their heroics, neither of these keepers were on the level of Jan Oblak this season. Despite Atletico’s underwhelming Champions League run, Oblak was consistently the best player in almost every game for Los Colchoneros.

Right-back - This was one of the easiest decisions to make. Being a crucial part of a team that won the league by 18 points at age 21 is one thing, but registering 13 assists from a defensive position is another. Trent Alexander-Arnold is a superstar. And this season he established himself as not just the best RB in the world, but as someone who has the potential to be an all-time great.

Center-back - When you have the worst performance of your career in the biggest game of the season and still get into Edozie’s TOTS, that’s a testament to your class throughout the entire season. And that’s the case for Raphael Varane. While the Real Madrid man signed off the season with a disaster of a performance against Manchester City, almost every other game he was was a rock at the back for Los Blancos. He’s proved himself more than capable of taking over the reins from Sergio Ramos.

Center-back - There’s no doubt about who the other central defender is. The leader at the back for the best defense in the world, Virgil Van Dijk had a seemingly flawless season. He makes everything about defending seem easy, with an almost arrogant flair. Adding two more trophies to his cabinet this season, Van Dijk is cementing his status as a Liverpool legend.

Left-back - There are certain attributes about some players that are just dominant. Cristiano Ronaldo’s aerial prowess. Adama Traore’s strength. And now, Alphonso Davies’ speed. The Canadian teenager has exploded onto the scene this season, becoming the king of Bayern Munich’s left flank in part due to his blazing pace. His rise to superstardom is incredible; from fifth choice winger to the best left-sided fullback in the world. A fantastic season for him, and an even brighter future ahead.

Center Midfielder - I’m running out of words to describe Joshua Kimmich. There seems to be no aspect of football that the German hasn’t mastered. The central cog for the Bavarian champions of Europe, Kimmich was the metronome in midfield that pulled the strings for every Bayern attack. The 25-year old has quietly become one of the best footballers on the planet.

Central Midfielder - If you told me three years ago that Casemiro would be a top two defensive midfielder in the world, I would’ve called you crazy. But here we are. The Brazilian took his game to the next level this year, expanding his passing range and becoming a player who is truly a master of shielding the defense. Phenomenal season from “The Tank”.

Central Midfielder - Kevin De Bruyne may have been the best player in the world this year. The Manchester City man was the best player on the pitch in every match he played in, becoming the crowned jewel of Pep Guardiola’s side. Creating, scoring, assisting, crossing, left foot, right foot, there was absolutely nothing the Belgian didn’t pull off this year. One of the greatest individual seasons in the history of the Premier League.

Left Winger - There are certain players in sports that are just a joy to watch, even if they’re playing against your team. Neymar is one of those players. The way in which he approaches each game with his favela flair simply glues viewers’ eyes to the screen. The Brazilian was the player I most enjoyed watching this year and was without a doubt the best in his position this season.

Striker - “We call him Robert Lewangoalski”. I can’t think of a more apt nickname for Bayern’s number 9. Robert Lewandowski was the world’s most prolific goalscorer, shattering both personal and Bundesliga records. Him scoring just seemed inevitable on a given matchday. He certainly staked his claim to be the best attacker in the world and put to bed any doubts about the best striker on the planet.

Right Winger - Messi, Messi, Messi. The greatest footballer there ever was once again put Barcelona on his back as even his 40+ goal contributions were not enough to secure the LaLiga title for the Catalan side. The Argentine is more than a gift, he’s a privilege to watch. I’ve always felt lucky to be able to watch him live every week and this season was no different.


Edozie Umunna is a staff writer at The Incandescent Review. He is a current senior at Roxbury Latin from Roxbury, Massachusetts. He’s an avid soccer, basketball and football fan and is also passionate about social justice and political reform. A fun fact about Edozie is that he holds citizenship in three different countries. Follow him on Instagram @edozie.umunna.

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