2014 is nearly in the books, and with FIFPro, the world players' union, in the midst of releasing its shortlists for the World's Best XI, it's time to consider which players stood out above their peers in a year to remember. An epic World Cup in Brazil saw Germany get crowned for a fourth time, while Real Madrid completed its quest for La Decima and captured a 10th European title.
Bayern Munich captured another Bundesliga title, doing so in record time; Atletico Madrid was a surprise champion in Spain; Manchester City won its second title in three seasons in England; Juventus won a third straight crown in Italy and PSG went back-to-back in Ligue 1 to headline Europe's major leagues.
Along the way a number of individual superstars helped their clubs and countries achieve success, and a select group stood tallest in doing so. Here's our pick for the world's Best XI, taking into account performances on club and international levels, following another memorable year of soccer around the globe:
GK Thibaut Courtois; Atletico Madrid/Chelsea, Belgium
RB Pablo Zabaleta; Manchester City, Argentina
CB Thiago Silva; Paris St.-Germain, Brazil
CB Mehdi Benatia; Bayern Munich, Morocco
LB Cesar Azpilicueta; Chelsea, Spain
MF Paul Pogba; Juventus, France
MF Yaya Toure; Manchester City, Ivory Coast
MF Toni Kroos; Bayern Munich/Real Madrid, Germany
F Arjen Robben; Bayern Munich, Netherlands
F Neymar; Barcelona, Brazil
F Lionel Messi; Barcelona, Argentina