Goal runs through the best players in the French top flight in 2012-13 and picks out the top 11 players over the course of the campaignParis Saint-Germain earned their first Ligue 1 title in 19 years this season in France, with their spending power finally proving decisive against game opponents who ultimately fell just short of the challenge. As a result, Goal's Team of the Season is dominated by the capital side, yet the involvement of several other star men shows that there remains plenty of quality in Le Championnat outside Ile-de-France.
There were many players who came close to getting into the side but ultimately only 11 could be chosen to comprise our elite squad of 2012-13.
|APP: 32 CLEAN SHEETS: 22
Although the likes of Steve Mandanda and Mickael Landreau pushed Salvatore Sirigu hard for this position, there can be little doubt the Italian deserves to come out on top. His statistics this season are utterly remarkable. In total he has conceded 16 goals in 32 matches, keeping 22 shut outs in the process. He may be well-protected by a strong rearguard but these numbers are impossible to overlook.
|APP: 32 GOALS: 1
||APP: 22 GOALS: 0
||APP: 36 GOALS: 1
||APP: 33 GOALS: 2
When PSG made Thiago Silva the world's most expensive defender last summer, they were confident they were buying quality. Although the Brazilian has been hit by a handful of minor injury complaints, he has been head and shoulders above anyone else in Ligue 1 and has shown why he is regarded as the foremost centre-back on the planet.
Olympique de Marseille's Nicolas N'Koulou may not be quite as cultured as the former AC Milan star yet he has been a rock in a side that has been more determined and gritty than any other in the league. Thirteen 1-0 wins pay testimony to the strength of their rearguard and the young Cameroon defender has been central to this.
In the full-back roles there have perhaps been no especially outstanding candidates. Maxwell has been solid for PSG on a regular basis and has used his top-level experience to make up for his lack of pace while highly-promising Sochaux youngster Sebastien Corchia has attracted interest from abroad as he continues to progress as a player despite his club's difficulties this term.
|APP: 35 GOALS: 4
||APP: 35 GOALS: 3
||APP: 34 GOALS: 3
Nominated for the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award, there can be little doubt that Blaise Matuidi has emerged as the best midfielder in France and one of the best in his role in Europe. His boundless energy has been vital to the success of PSG at home and abroad and his regular level of high performance means that he has been the capital side's most reliable player all season.
Olympique Lyonnais have found a new midfield leader in Maxime Gonalons, whose strong performances in a deep-lying role have helped the Rhone side challenge for a top-three finish when perhaps the lack of experience in their side might have prevented that. Gonalons has been an old head on young legs.
Mathieu Valbuena, meanwhile, has provided much of the craft in Marseille's attack. 'Le Petit Velo' has been instrumental in Andre-Pierre Gignac's resurgence and will be vital to the Provence side as they go back into the Champions League next season.
|APP: 35 GOALS: 19||APP: 32 GOALS: 27||APP: 36 GOALS: 12
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's selection is perhaps the most obvious in the team. The Swede has scored 27 times in the league this season and is threatening to become the first player to break the 30-goal barrier in France's top flight since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1990. He has so often provided quality to PSG's attack when they were lacking imagination.
Perhaps the most improved player in France this season has been Pierre-Emerick Aubamyang, whose style has been frequently compared to Thierry Henry. The quick Saint-Etienne attacker has been a key spearhead for his side and has improved his finishing noticeably this term.
On the other flank, Lille's Dimitri Payet wins a spot. After a sluggish start to the season he has been the main reason that Rudi Garcia's side are still challenging for a Champions League place with a fortnight of the campaign remaining. Along with Aubamyegang, he is one of only two players to figure in the top 10 for assists and goalscoring.