UEFA’s Team of the Year for 2019 certainly raised a few eyebrows upon its release yesterday.
It wasn’t exactly the personnel included, rather the formation implemented for the players involved.
Instead of going for the tried and tested 4-3-3 formation, UEFA opted to use a 4-2-4 one instead.
That meant Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mane and Robert Lewandowski lined up as a menacing front four.
Seems a bit strange to include four forwards, doesn’t it? That’s because it was.
As per the Daily Mail, UEFA altered the formation at the last minute to fit in Ronaldo.
The Portuguese received less votes than Messi, Mane and Lewandowski in the forwards category and was set to miss out from the team altogether.
This angered UEFA officials – such is Ronaldo’s popularity – so the original release date of the team was delayed by a week to manoeuvre the 35-year-old into the XI.
The unlucky man to miss out? N’Golo Kante, with the Frenchman just behind De Jong and De Bruyne in he voting.
A source told the Mail: “This is really not good. It is effectively vote rigging. Such is Ronaldo’s popularity at a senior level within the organisation, alarm bells sounded when he did not make the cut and, as a result, the formation was changed. It makes you wonder what else they get up to.”
It really is scandalous and it raises all sorts of questions over the validity of these supposedly prestigious XIs.
A spokesperson for UEFA tried to clarify the situation, claiming that Portugal’s success in the UEFA Nations League was the catalyst for the formation change.
“The formation for this year’s team of the year was chosen to reflect the votes of the fans in parallel with the players’ achievements in UEFA competitions,” they said.
“As a result, there are five UEFA Champions League winners and four UEFA Nations League finalists. The formation changes on a regular basis and this year is no exception.”
Not exactly an appropriate explanation, is it? Kante, Chelsea and France have every right to make an official complaint over the issue.
In six of the last seven years, the normal 4-3-3 formation has been utilised for the UEFA Team of the Year.
The only time it was altered was in 2017 when a 4-4-2 was used, which saw a midfield quartet of De Bruyne, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Eden Hazard, with Messi and Ronaldo as the forwards.