December is a natural point in the European soccer season to look back. It's the approximate midway point of the season, the Champions League group stage is coming to an end and the Bundesliga -- the only sensible league in this regard -- is approaching its annual nearly month-long break. And so it makes sense to use this as an excuse to put together a team-of-the-half-season type of piece. You'll find that below.
That list has only a couple of reaches or surprises, though. You know Jude Bellingham and Rodri will be there. Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappé too. You might wonder whether I chose Bukayo Saka or Mo Salah on the right wing, and there were at least a few genuine mystery positions -- goalkeeper, one of the center-backs, the midfield spot alongside Bellingham -- heading into the exercise. But the list made itself to a certain degree. So I also made a second list -- one full of my favorite players of the first two-fifths of the season.
Call it the Head XI versus the Heart XI, this season's superlatives across Europe's top leagues viewed from two different lenses.