Choosing a Bayern Munich and Real Madrid Combined XI
Tuesday’s epic Champions League semi-final sees two of world football’s biggest clubs battle it out for a place in next month’s showpiece final in Lisbon.
It could be a historic season for whoever wins this one. Bayern are bidding to become the first team to ever retain the trophy since it was rebranded as the Champions League, while victory for Real Madrid would see them become the first club to ever lift 10 European Cups.
There will be a wealth of talent on show at the Allianz Arena, so here is our best XI using players from both clubs. We’ve used a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Which players would have made your superteam? Post your selections below.
GK: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas will go down as one of the greatest goalkeepers in history, but he is beaten to the No. 1 jersey by Bayern’s Manuel Neuer.
Neuer was named in the 2013 FIFA World Team of the Year and has continued that success throughout the early stages of 2014. The German provides a solid foundation for Guardiola’s team and is equally impressive for his national side.
The 28-year-old is set to remain at the top for years to come.
RB: Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich)
Why on earth Pep Guardiola chose to deploy him in central midfield last week is beyond belief. The 30-year-old is certainly capable of playing there, but not playing the best full-back in world football in his best role is utterly bemusing.
Lahm captained Bayern to the treble last season and has already followed that up with the Bundesliga and Club World Cup trophies this year.
As well as being a truly sensational defender, his ability to support in the final third is also a huge weapon in the Bayern arsenal. There is no contest for his position within this mythical XI.
CB: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
He's perceived by many to be a liability, but you don’t spend nearly a decade in the heart of Los Blancos' defence unless you have some real talent.
Furthermore, Ramos seems to have rid himself of his petulant nature and looks a far more assured character now. He still has a mistake in him, as proven by his two red cards this term, but the good certainly outweighs the bad for this World Cup winner.
As reported by Miles Chambers of Goal.com, Real Madrid produced a club-record eight straight clean sheets earlier this season. Ramos was certainly a key figure in that success and merits his place in our selection.
CB: Pepe (Real Madrid)
His theatrics make Pepe one of the most infuriating players in world football, but you cannot underestimate his ability.
The Portugual star has formed a formidable partnership alongside Sergio Ramos and is one of the best central defenders in world football—easily better than Bayern’s offerings.
In addition to his immense defensive talents, the Madrid man has also provided four goals and four assists this term, per WhoScored.com this term.
LB: David Alaba (Bayern Munich)
The Austrian might not be the most glamourous name on this team sheet, but he certainly warrants his selection.
Alaba’s contribution to Bayern’s success cannot be overlooked. In a defensive line that has the sometimes rash central pairing of Jerome Boateng and Dante, the left-back always offers a sturdy outlet to help his fellow defenders out.
The full-back does get forward well too, claiming six assists this term per WhoScored. Crucially, though, his defensive game is absolutely top-class. Bayern were quick to snap up the player’s long-term future by agreeing a new deal earlier this season.
CM: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Less than 18 months ago, the former Spurs midfielder was famously voted as the worst signing of the season by readers of Spanish newspaper Marca. Fast-forward to April 2014, and the Croatia international is regarded as one of the most important stars of Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Modric has not only been a consistent performer in the heart of Real Madrid’s midfield, pulling the strings in central areas, but he has additionally helped former Tottenham team-mate Gareth Bale to acclimatise to life at the Bernabeu.
There were serious doubts during his early days as a Madrid player, but those questions have been emphatically answered over the last year.
CM: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)
He was injured for a significant part of the season, but Bastian Schweinsteiger still merits his position within this squad.
His inclusion is helped by the fact that Real’s Xabi Alonso also missed part of the campaign through injury, but even so the German midfielder is a truly outstanding talent.
Despite missing three months, Schweinsteiger has still played an important part in Bayern’s successful Bundesliga title defence and could be pivotal in helping them become the first club to ever retain the Champions League trophy.
CM: Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid)
For long periods, Angel Di Maria has failed to live up to the high expectations that come with playing for the Bernabeu giants. Since making the switch to a slightly deeper role, though, the Argentina international has been a revelation for Ancelotti’s side.
The 26-year-old has been one of Madrid’s better players this term, notably during the absence of the injured Xabi Alonso. Di Maria is still an attacking player, scoring 11 times for Madrid this season, but is certainly enjoying a more fruitful career as part of the midfield three.
RW: Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)
The former Real Madrid star was instrumental in Bayern’s treble-winning campaign and has been equally successful this term.
Robben keeps Gareth Bale out of this line-up, which tells you just how good he is. The Dutchman’s pace and dribbling abilities are up there with the best in world football, while his knack for scoring key goals in crucial matches is another reason for his selection.
Last month, the 30-year-old signed a lucrative two-year contract extension which will see the winger remain in Germany until 2017. The Dutchman is set to terrorise defences for a while longer.
CF: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Frenchman Karim Benzema is enjoying his best season in the famous Los Blancos shirt and deservedly merits his place in this selection.
The 26-year-old has led the line superbly for Real this season, and his crucial goal in last week’s first-leg gives Madrid a great chance of progressing to a first final since 2002.
Meanwhile, with the summer arrival of Robert Lewandowski at Bayern, Mario Mandzukic’s future in Munich is under severe threat.
Benzema all the way.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
The world’s greatest footballer right now—simple as that.
Ronaldo wasn’t fully fit for the first leg but will have struck fear into the Bayern defence with two superb strikes against Osasuna. The Real Madrid man has already equalled Lionel Messi’s record of 14 goals in a single Champions League campaign, per UEFA.com, and will be confident of edging in front with his 15th at the Allianz.
Bayern’s Franck Ribery may feel unlucky to miss out, but nobody was ever going to put Ronaldo’s inclusion in jeopardy.