In a vote conducted by a Spanish newspaper over the two-week winter break to find the best XI from around the world in 2012, Spaniards showed that they have a worldly outlook by including 10 Spain-based players in their XI.
Bayern Munich and Germany captain Philip Lahm was the only player from outside Iberia to break in with Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Iker Casillas et al.
Spaniards are feeling gloomy about their economy, but happy about their football. They may be influenced by a media which tells them that Spain is best and they will bat away suggestions of insularity in the belief that while the Primera Liga may be predictable and less popular globally than England's Premier League, it still boasts the best players. They do not like it when players such as David Silva move to England, but they continue to back up the argument by pointing to Spain's international dominance and the regular clean sweeps of Spain-based players in football's individual awards.
Messi, Ronaldo and Iniesta, the three finalists for the 2012 Balon d'Or, which will be awarded Monday, all make their living in Spain, though Ronaldo's future there is less secure than the others. Which non-Spain players could break into the top XI? Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was viewed as a failure at Barcelona, even though he was not. Robin van Persie is outstanding, but is he better than Messi or Ronaldo?
Maybe the Spaniards have a point.
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