El Classico Perfect XI

Two heavyweights of the European game, two giants of Spain and two regular kings of Europe. Barcelona and Real Madrid have had numerous world-class line-ups respectively so making a mixed side seems pretty difficult. Top level talents will miss out, you could make three teams almost just as good as each other with players from these clubs.

As both contest yet another La Liga title race, here is the El Classico Perfect XI.

Iker Casillas

An icon of Real Madrid. 16 trophies and 510 appearances, coming through the academy to guard a goal in the Santiago Bernabeu for over a decade. A leader, respected player and ever-reliable stopper.

He may have fallen off his perch when he was dropped by Jose Mourinho and kept his place in the national team ahead of the impressive David De Gea. Yet, he is and always will be one of the greats of the Galaticos.

Dani Alves

The perfect example of the modern-day fullback. Exceptional bombing forward and rock solid defensively. This earned him a move from Sevilla to Barca and he went on to be part of one of the greatest teams of this century.

He is the second most decorated player in European Cup history with nine medals, including UEFA Cups with regular winners Sevilla and Champions Leagues with Barca. Many full-backs fail to balance being good at attacking and defending, Alves does perfectly.

Carlos Puyol

One of the best one-club men to play the game. Puyol moved up the ranks at Barcelona to become captain in 2004. Winning 21 major titles with the Catalan giants, he is a legend at the Nou Camp.

Leading with authority, he was commanding, assertive and dependable. Respected globally as one of the best of his generation, he’s the Perfect XI skipper.

Sergio Ramos

Many have their views on Los Blancos’ captain, but there is no question he has left his mark on the big occasions. A stoppage time equalizer in the 2014 Champions League final as Madrid completed La Decima. A goal in the 2016 final to go with a penalty in a shoot-out win over their local rivals Atletico.

As well as contributing vital goals, he’s matured into an immense centre half. Quick, athletic and skillful, he is one of the best in the world, aside from his disciplinary issue.

Roberto Carlos

There are few men that would stand tall in a wall about to face a free-kick from Roberto Carlos. Reinventing the role of a full-back, Carlos was seen as one of the most attacking defenders of all time. Four Champions Leagues and three La Liga’s with Real, he was named in the ‘Best Foreign Real Madrid XI’ by Marca in 2013.

He scored the opener in a 2003 El Classico which ended a 20 year wait for a league win at the Nou Camp. World-class players step up when they need to and Carlos is certainly one of those.

Xavi

Watching Xavi makes football look so easy. He was a pass master and a technician like no other. He was at the heart of the rise of the ‘tika-taka’ style and is seen as one of the greatest Barca and Spanish midfielders of all-time.

An effortless passing range and a beautiful turn into space, he oozed class. Eight La Liga’s and four Champions League’s, along with captaining the first side in history to win the ‘treble’, twice, a Barcelona icon.

Andres Iniesta

The most accomplished Spanish footballer of all-time. 32 honors to his name and the accolade of scoring the winner in the 2010 World Cup final, clinching Spain’s first World Cup.

Immensely gifted, he’s the best midfielder of his era. He makes the hardest passes look like nothing. He’s the embodiment of the Barcelona way, modelled by Johan Cruyff, and a serial winner. One of football’s special talents.

Ronaldinho (Credit fcbarcelona.com)
Ronaldinho (Credit fcbarcelona.com)

Ronaldinho.

Diego Maradona was the only Barcelona player to receive a standing ovation from the Santiago Bernabeu crowd, until 2005. In a 3-0 rout, Ronaldinho scored twice and was greeted with the applause after his second goal, a feat only fitting for geniuses of the game.

The most skillful man of his generation, only he could embarrass David Seaman and the entire England side with an audacious free-kick and still be revered. A catalyst for ending a 14 year wait for the Champions League in Catalonia, he is one of football’s favorites.

Lionel Messi

There aren’t many things to say about Messi that haven’t been said before. The all-time top scorer for Barcelona, La Liga and the Champions League, he’s rightly spoken as one of the greatest to kick a ball.

A deliverer of unforgettable moments, his Copa Del Rey goal against Bilbao in 2015, his four-goal haul against Arsenal in 2010 or his superb solo strike at the Bernabeu in 2011. 492 goals in 570 games, in my opinion the greatest of all, here’s why….

Ronaldo Nazario

The elite predator. One of the most clinical strikers in football’s history, if anyone deserved to be a Galatico, it was Ronaldo. He became the fifth foreigner to score over 100 goals for Madrid in 2006 and won two La Liga’s.

He’s one of the most complete forwards ever. Strong, quick, fleet-footed and lethal, the best striker in the world at his peak. A two-time Ballon D’Or winner and two-time World Cup winner, the Perfect XI marksman.

Cristiano Ronaldo

If Messi is the perfect footballer, Ronaldo is the perfect sportsman. If you were building an athlete, an ideal model would be the Portuguese specimen. Real Madrid’s record goal-scorer and regular record-breaker, Ronaldo eclipsed all his accomplishments by winning the Euros with Portugal last summer.

390 goals in 381 games for the white of Madrid, he’ll go down as arguably their greatest ever player. Inspiring as a professional, exceptional as a footballer, many will say he is in-fact the world’s greatest.

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