Messi, Bale, Falcao, Neymar, Iniesta: who would win in this hypothetical clash?
The European XI
This was considerably harder than creating a South American XI, purely because of the strength in depth in European football. Players like Wayne Rooney, Xabi Alonso, Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski, Gerard Pique and Andrea Pirlo have all missed out.
In fact, at least three world class XI compromising entirely of European players could be created, which would all be similar quality, and this cannot not be said of South America.
Manuel Neuer starts in goal; the German has leapfrogged Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon and Spaniard Iker Casillas to the accolade of ‘World’s best goalkeeper’ in most expert opinions. (Interestingly, there are probably eight or nine European goalkeepers who would walk into a combined South American XI…)
Germany’s Philip Lahm and Spain’s Sergio Ramos pick themselves, while we’ve gone for Man United star Nemanja Vidic as the second half. Vincent Kompany and Gerard Pique are brilliant footballers, Vidic, when fit, is as uncompromising as they come. Jordi Alba beats Ashley Cole and David Alaba to the left-back spot because of his barn-storming performances last season.
Bayern Munich simply had to be represented following their treble-winning season, and Bastian Schweisteiger beats team-mate Javi Martinez to the holding midfield role. Andres Iniesta of Spain and Barcelona is a given, as is ageing teammate Xavi, although players like Andrea Pirlo, Xabi Alonso and Daniele De Rossi almost nicked this spot! Perhaps in a few seasons time the position will belong to Marco Veratti, or Paul Pogba.
Up top is where the team begins to look frighteningly good. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale walk straight into the side, and Van Persie has earned the right to start up top on his own after two brilliant goal-scoring seasons.
The South American XI
From back to front; this team starts good, gets better, and then just gets jaw-droppingly ridiculous! The strength in depth of South American football is not what it is in Europe, but this XI is filled with more magic players. If this team decided to fire on all cylinders, there isn’t very much anyone could do about it!
South American has never been famous for its goalkeepers, and Uruguay’s Fernando Mulsera has beaten Sergio Romero and Julio Cesar to the no.1 spot. Barcelona were rumoured to be interested in him (according to Goal.com), and we couldn’t bare the thought of putting a recently relegated QPR goalkeeper in this side!
Thiago Silva and David Luiz formed a brilliant partnership for Brazil at the Confederations Cup, and Dani Alves has been a stalwart of arguably the best club side in history for many seasons. We’ve gone with Pablo Zabaleta at left-back, as we think his versatility and aggression makes him an all-round better player than Marcelo. Christian Ansaldi, Alvaro Perreira and Filipe Luis all have grounds to be upset however, particularly as the Man City man has spent most of his time on the right side of defence.
Javier Mascherano would start for any other club in world football. The feisty Argentine his brilliant for his country, and that’s why we want his tenacity in the middle. After his Confederations Cup performances, Paulinho will start alongside him…that makes a Tottenham player in each of the XIs!
Up top, we’ve selected Neymar’s pace on the left, Messi’s genius through the middle, and Luis Suarez’s trickery on the right; all playing off the world’s best finisher – Radamel Falcao. There are countless other brilliant South American attackers, such as Edinson Cavani, Gonzalo Higuain, Hulk and Jackson Martinez, but we don’t think anyone could argue with this selection up front!
Who would win?
Because of the attacking brilliance on display – my heart says South America… But my head says Europe. The midfield triumvirate of Iniesta, Xavi and Schweinsteiger would dominate possesion agasint Maschearno and Paulinho, and the physical prowess of Ronaldo and Bale would cause South America’s fullbacks problems. There is no doubting though, that the individual brilliance of Neymar and Messi could win any game single-handedly!
Who makes your teams?