The European governing body announced the winning line-up on Wednesday, one week later than originally planned, and left fans confused by the use of an unorthodox 4-2-4 formation.

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As reported by the Daily Mail, the delay was allegedly caused when UEFA decided to seek a way for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who finished fourth in the voting amongst forward players, to still be included despite failing to make the cut.

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The 34-year-old finished behind Lionel Messi, Sadio Mane and Robert Lewandowski in the popular ranking of Europe's best strikers, but officials opted to switch their line-up to a four-man attack thus freeing up space for the Portugal international, reportedly at the expense of Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante.

That left an unbalanced 'winning' team featuring only two midfield players, Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong and Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne.

A UEFA spokesperson said of the decision: "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.

"As a result, there are five UEFA Champions League winners and four UEFA Nations League finalists (including one winner). The formation changes on a regular basis and this year is no exception."

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