We gave you the definitive Real Madrid European Cup-winning XI on Tuesday. Then there was the Liverpool version, picking out the greatest players ever to play in Champions League triumphs for the Reds.
But who from each of those teams would make it into a combined team made up of the crème de la crème from those 19 total European Cup triumphs?
There are arguments to be had in every single position, so it was far from a breeze picking this final XI…
Goalkeeper: RAY CLEMENCE (Liverpool – 1977, 1978, 1981)
A phenomenal goalkeeper, Ray Clemence was absolutely vital as Liverpool began their love affair with the European Cup in the late 1970s. He made memorable saves at crucial moments in their 1977 and 1978 victories, then kept another clean sheet in the 1981 win over Real Madrid in his final game for the club. Clemence left an incredible impression wherever he went, barely missed a game in doing so, and was a consummate professional throughout. Peerless.
Right-back: MICHEL SALGADO (Real Madrid – 2000, 2002)
Phil Neal might be Liverpool’s most successful player of all time with 23 trophies to his name, but Michel Salgado was the under-rated superstar of a team packed with Galacticos at the turn of the century. The perfect foil for Luis Figo on the right, he was also absolutely devastating when bombing beyond the Portuguese down the wing.
Centre-back: VIRGIL VAN DIJK (lIVERPOOL - 2019)
Rarely has the signing of a defender been so seismic. Virgil van Dijk turned up at a club shipping goals left, right and centre and immediately rammed the criticism of his £75 million transfer fee back down people’s throats. The Dutchman has been the bedrock on which Liverpool’s recent success has been built on, and while both Madrid and the Reds have had astonishing defenders down the years, few have had such a speedy impact.
Centre-back: SERGIO RAMOS (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018)
Cristiano Ronaldo might have got a large percentage of the plaudits during Madrid’s mid-2010s run of four Champions Leagues, but Sergio Ramos was never far behind… and rightly so. His equaliser in injury time of the 2014 final led to La Decima finally being secured, and his brilliantly uncompromising play was key to the next three successes that followed. A wonderful footballer, whatever you make of his disciplinary record.
Left-back: ROBERTO CARLOS (1998, 2000, 2002)
With incredible work-rate, searing speed and a claim to be among the conversation for having the greatest left foot in football history, Roberto Carlos absolutely bossed the entire left wing for a period of many years. His blockbuster style of play was worth the admission money alone in a time when Madrid had brilliance to boast in many other departments.
Central midfielder: STEVEN GERRARD (2005)
He might only have one Champions League title to his name, but it was Steven Gerrard’s crowning moment as one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players in an era when they frankly had very few others who could even claim to be of a similar level. Energetic, intelligent and impactful throughout his club career, Gerrard’s timely intervention against Olympiacos and then his momentous intercession at 3-0 down in Istanbul are now the stuff of legend.
Central midfielder: ZINEDINE ZIDANE (2002)
Zinedine Zidane’s footballing legacy is not all about his one goal in the 2002 final against Bayer Leverkusen, but that moment perfectly summed up his genius as a player. The presence of mind to allow himself a split second to read the flight of Roberto Carlos’ hopeful cross, the slightest of skips to ensure he had the optimum starting position, then the sheer bravado to take on such a difficult volley… it was Zizou’s unparalleled brilliance down to a tee.
Right wing: CRISTIANO RONALDO (2014, 2016. 2017, 2018)
Four Champions League winner’s medals. A total of 105 goals in 101 appearances in the competition for Real Madrid, including 60 in 49 as part of European title-winning seasons. Three goals and a penalty success in finals. Cristiano Ronaldo’s impact on that period of Los Blancos can’t really be told in numbers, but they do a very good job of explaining just how monumental he was. This was one of the best ever at his very peak.
Central attacker: FERENC PUSKAS (1959, 1960, 1966)
Four goals in the 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 final cemented Ferenc Puskas as a legend long after his incredible run with Hungary and Honved Budapest. He improved an already-dominant Real Madrid side, and the only disappointment is that he missed two European Cup finals through injury. His vision, skill on the ball and eye for goal would not have been out of place in the modern game.
Left wing: PACO GENTO (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966)
It takes some player to be among the first names on the teamsheet when your club is busy racking up six European Cup wins, and Paco Gento remains the only man ever to achieve that many titles. With amazing speed, and a dead-eye crossing ability, his legend lives on in Real Madrid history despite his death earlier this year.
Striker: ALFREDO DI STEFANO (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)
Before Cristiano Ronaldo, and Raul, and even before Emilio Butragueno and Santillana, there was Alfredo di Stefano. So good they named their hugely impressive training ground after him, Di Stefano was an utter genius in the days when Madrid dominated the early European Cup competition. He scored in five successive European Cup finals, including a hat-trick in the 7-3 win over Frankfurt at Hampden Park in 1960. An untouchable record.
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