Lets be honest naming a combined eleven players from the world’s two biggest clubs is an impossible task, how do you choose between players from such different eras. Was Alfredo Di Stefano better than Cristiano Ronaldo? How do you compare Diego Maradona to Lionel Messi? The answer is you can’t, they played in such differing eras, and for that reason, plus the fact I was born in 1986 meaning I never seen Johan Cruyff or Ferenc Puskas play means I’ve omitted every player who played for the two famous clubs before 1990.
There will no doubt be many people who disagree with this team, having so many genuine world class players left out guarantees that. I was even annoyed myself with the omission of some of my all time favourites, but I think we can all agree the eleven put on the park would be almost unbeatable in fact the only team who could come close to beating them would be the Real Madrid / Barcelona combined reserve team!!
Anyway here is the Combined Real Madrid / Barcelona XI from 1990 onwards.
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid 1999-2015)
Arguably the easiest decision to make in selecting this team, due in part to a lack of serious competition but mostly due to Iker’s consistency over 16 years at the Santiago Bernabeu. A fantastic goalkeeper known for his incredible shot stopping he will go down as one of the all time greats in his position. Saint Iker as he was affectionately known won the Champions League three times with Real Madrid and won several domestic trophies. His crowning glory came when captaining Spain to the FIFA World Cup in 2010. Casillas was prone to the odd error particularly towards the end of his time with Los Merengues and in the summer of 2015 he left his boyhood club to join FC Porto. He will go down as Real Madrid and Spain’s greatest ever goalkeeper.
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid 2005-Present)
One of the many decisions I’ve made in this team that I expect to be questioned, Ramos is an often controversial figure, he has been sent off 19 times for Madrid. However Ramos is also a very good defender he has been named La Liga Defender of the Season for the last 4 seasons and has been voted into the prestigious FIFPRO World XI six times. Ramos is also known for his fantastic scoring record, amazingly he has scored more goals for Real Madrid than Iniesta has for Barcelona, a serial winner with club and country Ramos is still only 29 and has many more years at the top of world football where he will be expecting to add to his impressive trophy haul.
Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid 2006-2009)
Another controversial selection, Fernando Hierro will justifiably feel hard done by, Hierro undoubtedly done more over his long career at Real than Cannavaro did, but the fact remains that Fabio Cannavaro is the best defender in football since fellow Italian Paolo Maldini. He signed for the Spanish giants in 2006 having just captained Italy to victory in the 2006 World Cup, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon D’or winner later in the year a rare accolade for a defender. When he signed for Madrid they hadn’t won a trophy for a few years and Cannavaro quickly helped change that with back to back La Liga titles. A two time member of the FIFPRO World XI, Cannavaro has earned his place among football’s elite.
Carles Puyol (Barcelona 1999-2014)
For many years Puyol was the symbol of Barcelona, a lion on the park who amassed an incredible 21 trophies for his beloved Barca (6 la liga and 3 champions leagues), many of which were as Captain. He also won the European Championship and World Cup with Spain. Regarded as the leader of Barcelona’s all conquering team from 2006-2011 his leadership was never in question and his football ability was often underrated, his positional sense and composure on the ball where second to none. Voted onto the UEFA Team of the year an astonishing six times, Carles was a one club man who could of walked into any team in the world but never had any desire to leave his boyhood heroes, and why would you want to leave when you consider the success he had.
Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid 1996-2007)
The best left back of his or any other generation and the most offensive full back of his time, he reinvented the role of the modern full back. A truly special player who was known for his dynamic speed, his thunderous thighs and his dubious free kick taking ability (when he scored they were amazing, he often didn’t score!). Carlos signed for Real Madrid from Inter Milan in 1996 and stayed until 2007, in between times he won three Champions League titles and four La Liga titles. In 1997 he was voted second in the FIFA World Player of the Year. With his native Brazil “The Bullet Man” won the World Cup in 2002 and two Copa America titles both of which he won whilst at Real Madrid.
Xavi (Barcelona 1998-2015)
The embodiment of tiki-taka football, Xavi Hernandez has done it all. A sensational technical footballer who played more passes in a game than a lot of teams do in a season. He won it all, with 28 trophies to his name he is the most decorated player in Spanish football history. A four time Champions League winner and eight time Spanish league champion, Xavi also won the World Cup and European Championship twice with Spain.
It was very rare to see Xavi give the ball away and he finished the 2010 World Cup tournament with a 91% pass succession rate. He chipped in with goals as well and scored 85 times for Barcelona.
Michael Laudrup (Barcelona 1989-1994 & Real Madrid 1994-1996)
The one player in this team that I feel most people are going to question, yet one of the players I feel most strongly about selecting. His presence means Andres Iniesta will have to take a seat on the bench and I’m willing to take the stick that will inevitably come with that, but not selecting Laudrup would be ridiculous. In 1999 Laudrup was selected at the Best Foreign Player in Spanish football over the preceding 25 years. Perhaps with Laudrup where younger people might not fully appreciate his talent it would be best to let some of his peers do the talking for me, here is a selection of quotes about Scandanavias greatest export.
“I think Laudrup was the best player I ever played against” Luis Figo.
“Michael Laudrup was the best player I ever played with” Raul.
“The best player I have ever played with and the 4th best in the history of the game.” Romario.
“Who is the best player in history? Laudrup.” Andres Iniesta.
“I fully understand why he is considered one of the best players in Barcelona’s history and even the world.” Lionel Messi.
What more can I add to that? There are numerous quotes from others from Beckenbauer to Platini all talking extremely highly of Laudrup that are definitely worth looking at, a supremely talented player who played with distinction for both clubs. If you still aren’t convinced he merits inclusion in this team then log onto YouTube and watch some of his clips. You will agree in no time!
Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid 2001-2006)
My all time favourite footballer, Zizou signed for Real Madrid in 2001 from Juventus for a then world record. The footballing artist with a magicians name, watching ZZ was like watching poetry in motion his control of the ball was like nothing seen before or since, in 2004 he was named by UEFA as the greatest European player over the last 50 years and in 2011 he was voted by UEFA.com users as the best player of the Champions League era ahead of the likes of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. His famous goal in the 2002 Champions League final at Hampden Park will forever live in the memory of anybody who witnessed it, a breathtaking volley into the top corner to seal victory in football’s biggest club event. He also had his moments in football’s biggest international event, the FIFA World Cup Final. In 1998 he scored 2 memorable headers to help France win the cup and sealed his place as a French national treasure, and perhaps even more famous was his 2006 World Cup Final where he showed unbelievable audacity to chip a penalty down the middle, the way you perhaps would if playing with friends down the park, to beat Gianluigi Buffon then his infamous headbutt on Marco Materazi and red card that followed. That is maybe often forgotten about Zidane that despite his finesse and wonderful artistry he had a menacing side and was no stranger to the referees book. Despite his sometime ill discipline he will go down as one of the top five players to ever play the game.
Ronaldo (Barcelona 1996-1997 & Real Madrid 2002-2007)
Heartbreakingly refered to these days as “the fat Ronaldo” he will be remembered by me as The Real Ronaldo, the greatest striker to ever play the game or simply “The Phenomenon”. His achievements in the game need no introduction from me and his story of redemption as he scored twice to win the World Cup Final in 2002 will go down as one of the greatest stories in sport. When he burst onto the scene as a young boy in Brazil nobody had ever seen anything like him. His speed, power, skill and finishing ability where all unrivalled. Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t known for praising others so when he says about Ronaldo that ” there will never be a better player than him” you know its high praise indeed. Until recently he held the record for most goals in the history of the World Cup. When acclaimed magazine France Football named the starting eleven of the greatest players of all time it was no surprise to see Ronaldo named as centre forward. He is one of only four players to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times (the other three are all Madrid/Barca alumni Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi & Zidane). All of these amazing accolades and yet we are still left wondering…what if? What if Ronaldo’s career wasn’t plagued by injuries, his troublesome knee providing an almost constant source of problems from early in his career. I have always felt that Ronaldo is the most naturally gifted footballer of all time and often wonder just how good he could of been had injuries not got in his way.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid 2009-Present)
Ronaldo vs Messi, it’s an argument you can find almost anywhere you look. But people shouldn’t be arguing about who is best, surely we should just be embracing the fact that two absolute all time greats are on the top of their games and are showing no sign of letting up. Ronaldo is perhaps not the complete player that Messi is, he is often selfish and rarely can be found tracking back to help out in defence, but you can forgive him when you look at his stats and achievements. These achievements speak for themselves, Real Madrids all time top goalscorer despite only being there 7 years. A Champions League winner with Manchester United who repeated that success while helping Real to “La Decima”. Ronaldo has won three Ballon D’or awards and is the all time top goalscorer in both the UEFA Champions League and European Championships. Portugals greatest ever player became the first man to win four European Golden Boot awards and he is on track to add to his haul this season. Perhaps the greatest goalscorer in the history of football Ronaldo is also known for his pace, power and unbelievable skills.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona 2004-Present)
What can I possibly say about Messi that hasn’t already been said? Every superlative has already been used to describe him. Simply put he is the greatest football player of all time. He has won everything there is to win with Barcelona several times over. He has broken almost every record and won every award. He has scored every kind of goal and the scary thing is he still has years left in his career at only 28 years old already Messi is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. Listing his achievements or goalscoring feats seems almost pointless as he is continually adding to them. His skill and ability to beat players seemingly at ease is unlike anything this sport has ever witnessed, his low centre of gravity makes it very difficult for even the most accomplished of defenders to get him off the ball. His goalscoring exploits are legendary but his selfless team work and vision to pick a pass are what make him stand above his rival for all the big awards Cristiano Ronaldo. The only thing that Messi needs to do in the game now is win the World Cup with Argentina and who would bet against him doing that before he hangs up his golden boots.
GK. Victor Valdes
CB. Fernando Hierro
CB. Gerard Pique
CM. Andres Iniesta
Now I think that team would be absolutely unplayable, don’t read too much into the forward positions, I think Messi and the two Ronnies would be quite fluid. The bench is ridiculously strong even more so when you consider the list of players who didn’t make the bench but deserve a mention, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Romario, Dani Alves, Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry, Luis Vigo, David Beckham, Clarence Seedorf, Hristo Stoichkov, Juan Roman Riquelme, Pep Guardiola, Michael Owen, Sergio Busquets, Raphael Varane, Xabi Alonso and Kaka to name a few. Let’s be honest pretty much all of them at their peak would make most best elevens of their own country or other clubs.
The hardest players to leave out the starting team would probably be Ronaldinho and Iniesta both among my all time favourite players, I just don’t know who would make way for them.
Let me know in the comments section who would make your All Time Real/Barca team or tweet us @cloudie86.