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Tomás de Cos | 25/12/2012
In a list of the world's 100 best players published by the British newspaper 'The Guardian', Real Madrid's Iker Casillas has been rated as the planet's top goalkeeper. Occupying 12th place in the overall standings, the Spain captain finished well above Italy's Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer of Germany, in 20th and 29th place respectively.
The list, chosen by a panel of experts, is headed by Barcelona's Lionel Messi, with Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo in second. Messi's team-mates at the Camp Nou, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta, followed in third and fourth.
Among the top ten are five footballers who currently ply their trade in Spanish football: Messi, Cristiano, Xavi and Iniesta are joined by Atlético Madrid striker Radamel Falcao, chosen as the world's sixth best player behind PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The top ten is completed by Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Yaya Touré (Manchester City) and Edinson Cavani (Napoli).
Casillas beat off the competition from his fellow goalkeepers with a margin of victory not seen in any of the outfield positions. Buffon lags eight places behind, Neuer a further nine adrift and Chelsea's Petr Cech is way back in 44th. Joe Hart of Manchester City is the fifth and final keeper, in 65th place.
A list dominated by 'La Roja'
National coach Vicente del Bosque certainly has reason to feel proud. Spain's status as world and European champions is clear to see in the panel's choices. An impressive total of 16 Spaniards in the top 100 is comprised of: Xavi, Iniesta, Casillas, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, David Silva, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Piqué, Juan Mata, Cesc Fábregas, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba, David Villa, Pedro, Santi Cazorla and Javi Martínez. 12 Brazilians appear in the ranking, ensuring that their nation lie in second place, with Germany next on 10. Argentina have eight, while Italy and France have seven each.
La Liga comes in second
There are 23 footballers on the list who play in Spain, leaving La Liga in second position behind the Premier League (27) and ahead of the Bundesliga (13), Serie A (13) and Ligue 1 (8).
The club with most representatives is Barcelona, with 12 (Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Piqué, Cesc, Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves, Puyol, Alba, Villa and Pedro), followed by 10 from Real Madrid (Cristiano, Casillas, Xabi Alonso, Mesut Özil, Ramos, Karim Benzema, Ángel Di María, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Pepe). Like the Bernabéu outfit, Bayern Munich also boast 10, while Chelsea and Manchester City provide 8 each.