One of these things is out of place... - Shaun Botterill
We've been mostly ignoring the slow release of the FIFA World XI shortlist. As defending European champions, Chelsea had contributed plenty of names to the list -- Petr Cech was unsurprisingly listed as one of the world's top goalkeepers, and more or less the entire back line from last season got a nod for their defensive displays in the late stages of the Champions League.
And then the midfielders were announced. Now, if I told you that Chelsea had a pair of midfielders on a 55-player World XI shortlist, I'd guess you'd all think that that was quite reasonable. Each of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Oscar and Ramires have a claim to be an elite player, and John Obi Mikel was incredible during the improbable run to the European Cup in Munich.
Anyway, Chelsea did indeed have a pair of midfield players announced to the shortlist. Eden Hazard is there, presumably for murdering Ligue 1 with Lille last year. Who's the other? Mata, who's been absolutely incredible so far this season and had a great debut campaign with the Blues? Ramires, named as player of the year by his peers and scorer of that goal at the Camp Nou? Oscar, who was sublime with Internacional before bursting onto the global stage at the Olympics? Nope. It was Eden Hazard and Frank Lampard who made the cut.
I love Frank Lampard. I love him a lot. I think Chelsea are badly missing him in the pivot, and that he's much more tactically aware and defensively responsible than his reputation would suggest. He was excellent against Barcelona in the semifinal, and was a key figure in two of the three goals that the Blues scored in knocking out the Catalans.
But seriously, he's not one of the 55 best players in the world. He's not one of the planet's top midfielders, in terms of either talent or performance. This is a weird, weird pick, and only explicable by HAHAHAHA STEVEN GERRARD'S ON THERE TOO I'M DONE TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY
Ceterum censeo Torrentem delendam esse.