As we look ahead to July’s Copa America, here’s the second of our three-part preview by the wonderful Ed Malyon, looking at Group B.

There’s not much to say about Brazil that hasn’t been said previously. Mano Menezes is currently using the 4-2-3-1 that’s been very popular in domestic football in the last 18 months. It allows the wealth of attacking talent to all fit into the XI with, of course, plenty in reserve. Santos starlet Neymar plays on the left of the attacking three, most probably alongside Robinho and former Manchester City man, Elano.

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So with only 2 games left in this year’s Premier League title race, I thought it would be an appropriate time to pick my 11 players for the Team of the Year, I already know it’s going to cause some discussion, which of course can only be a good thing.

Goalkeeper

Joe Hart

In-between the posts there can only be 1 man, played an outstanding role in his teams excellent and surprising season, on loan from Manchester City JOE HART has had a fantastic season, leading to most England fans to call for him to be the #1 in England’s World Cup campaign, Joe has been superb all season, excellent shot-stopping, reflex saves, very rarely showing any weakness, it will be a very interesting summer, Birmingham may have lost their chance to have him next season by not letting him return to City after Given’s injury.

Honourable Mentions: Shay Given, Heruelho Gomes, Brad Freidel, and Thomas Sorensen.

Left Back

Ashley Cole

This was a very tough choice, two players fighting for the title, one had a fantastic start of the season the other has made superb towards the end of the campaign, Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra have been fantastic for their clubs this year, Cole seeming to find his attacking instincts again charging forward but also showing a defensive presence also, Evra has recently been praised from Sir Alex himself applauding the Frenchman’s quality, very consistent this season but has excelled in recent games, the place in this team could easily go to either player however only one can be picked and I am going to choose Chelsea’s man ASHLEY COLE only an ankle injury has stopped his progress this season, I think Chelsea would be Champions already had he been fit.

Centre Backs

Thomas Vermaelen

So many players to choose from in this category, luckily I get to pick 2 from a long list. My first choice is THOMAS VERMAELEN the relatively unknown Belgian came to England with lots of question marks over the price-tag, his size, experience, this was all dismissed within the first few weeks of the season scoring goals, superb defending, after 2 months you wondered how Arsenal had ever competed without this man, his season has been slowed with Injuries however his performances have been enough to earn this spot.

Richard Dunne

Alongside him I have went for a experience player who swapped one Champions League chasing team for another, when he was pretty much made surplus to requirements at Eastland’s and snapped up by Martin O’Neill, RICHARD DUNNE has shown the Man City were wrong to let him go, and Aston Villa have been reaping the benefits, creating a strong partnership with James Collins they been the basis of Villas excellent season, unlucky not to be going to the World Cup, Dunne is maybe not as fast as he used to be, however still shows he is one of the better Centre Backs playing in this country.

Honourable Mentions: Roger Johnson, Scott Danns, Michael Dawson

Left Midfield

Florent Malouda

One player has stood out recently in this position and it has really made me happy, as a follower of French football FLORENT MALOUDA was a player I had seen do great things for Lyon in Ligue 1 and when he signed for Chelsea, I was bigging him up about his ability then unfortunately his first couple of seasons can only be described as Average at best, this season however he has finally shown the ability I knew he had, scoring and supply goals he has been a mainstay in Ancelotti’s team, terrorising defences for most of the season, I am very happy to see Florent perform well.

Central Midfield

James Milner

2 player with contrasting season, the first one has had his break out season, everyone knew of his abilities however this season JAMES MILNER has been superb, playing in a number of positions, left and right, but his play through the middle has been fantastic, one of the reasons for Villa’s great season, calls for James to be part of England’s squad increase every week maybe only his versatility will stop him gaining a starting berth.

Frank Lampard

Beside him I have put one of the most consistent Central Midfielders in the game, I am not always blown away by his ability but you cannot argue with 20 Premier League goals FRANK LAMPARD again has made his way onto the scorer’s table and for a midfielder his goal scoring is 2nd to none, there are many Premier League strikers that would be happy to match his goal tally, although he doesn’t wear the armband, Frank is a captain for this team, and leads the charge for goals most games, I’m actually glad he can’t recreate this form for England.

Right Midfield

Antonio Valencia

When Ronaldo left Old Trafford everyone knew his boots would be really hard to fill however ANTONIO VALENCIA has in my opinion done a fantastic job in not filling his boots but stamping his own footprints on United’s team, fantastic pace and the ability to deliver a great ball into the box, Man U’s strikers and midfielders have capitalised on his strong points, people will look at his at times poor touch, or that he goes missing at times, however with Fergie as his coach Antonio will only improve, and if this seasons successes have anything to go by it is a scary prospect to think of an improved Valencia.

Honourable Mention: Aaron Lennon

Centre Forwards

Carlos Tevez

My Centre Forward pairing played together last year, and both of them I think would agree have had much better seasons apart, CARLOS TEVEZ has played out of his skin for Manchester City scoring so many important goals, and his work rate and passion for the game is infectious, although City paid an obscene amount for Carlos, I think he has been worth every penny for the club, big goals against Man United and Chelsea, and I think he can improve as well, maybe some big signings could complement Carlos very well.

WAYNE ROONEY will be in everyone’s team of the year, with Ronaldo gone, the boy wonder has stepped up and become a World Class player, he has always been very talented I always think he lacked consistency, now he is everything his team needs him to be, added a scoring touch with his head, more composure he has lead his team very well, a couple of niggling injuries will keep him out for the grandstand finish and maybe lose the Golden Boot, however Rooney definitely has had the Midas touch this year.

Manager of the Year

A Couple of names up for this award, Roy Hodgson was one, but most of his miracles have been in the Europa League, Martin O’Neill and Harry Redknapp for their pursuit of a Champions League place. And Alex McLeish for his wonderful season with Birmingham City

Carlo Ancelotti

However I am going to give this award to CARLO ANCELOTTI no one was quite sure what to expect from the Italian, no big signings like Mourinho and Scolari however he has guided Chelsea to top of the table, the most goals ever scored in the Premiership, brought the best out of Malouda and Anelka, had to deal with a lot on and off the field problems, an African Nations cup with some important players missing, and he has done this quite quietly, People may say he already has a strong team, however Grant and Scolari had the same team and couldn’t bring the best out in them, and I think Carlo has done a fantastic job.

Right Back

So you may have noticed that there is a position missing from the list, the Right Back, I just couldn’t decide who to pick, no one for me has excelled in this position, so I am going to leave it up to a vote. So please vote for who you think has been the best Right Back this year and I will add him to the team. (Poll can be found on the main page)

If you agree or more likely disagree with any of these choice, please let me know.

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