A scary team of players who didn’t make the all-time UCL XI: Maldini, Raul

Quick Reads

Football is filled with constant debates about who is the best in their club, league, country, continent or the world.

As one big collective fanbase of the game, we simply can’t help but compare the greatest players we’ve seen.

Well, UEFA have sparked up some more debate, as they have named their all-time Champions League XI, naming it their Ultimate Team of the Year.

There are, of course, some incredible names included in their cohort, but there are some players who have criminally been left out, with Paolo Maldini being the glaring example.

So, we’ve decided to make our own team of players who have been left out of the original lineup.

There are some big names who haven’t even made our team, including Robert Lewandowski, Andriy Shevchenko, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo and Lilian Thuram. If you come into our replies wondering why Frank Lampard or Paul Scholes aren’t there, just remember that David Batty is better.

Oliver Kahn

It was tough picking between Kahn and Gianluigi Buffon, but we ultimately decided to go for the one that’s won the Champions League.

Kahn got his safe hands on the trophy in 2000-01, having saved three of Valencia’s penalties in the shootout during the final.

The German was an absolute mad man, but he was also a supremely talented goalkeeper capable of stepping up when he was needed.

Dani Alves

The Brazilian was a key part of Pep Guardiola’s trophy machine at Barcelona and won the Champions League a total of three times with the Catalan club, arriving just as they began to set new standards of excellence in 2008.

Considering these are included in the right-back’s 36 career trophies, it’s pretty difficult to ignore him.

Fabio Cannavaro

Cannavaro was just the third-ever defender to win the Balon d’Or in 2006, following Franz Beckenbauer and Matthias Sammer, with this award coming after he captained Italy to World Cup glory.

Considering there won’t be any other defenders available with that award, we simply had to include the former Internazionale, Juventus and Real Madrid star in this lineup even though the Champions League remains elusive in his honours list.

 

Paolo Maldini

UEFA may have somehow left Maldini out of their lineup, but there’s no way we were going to make the same mistake.

Between the European Cup and Champions League eras, Maldini won club football’s biggest competition five times, but the Italian deserves a place in the team without his trophy count.

The defender is one of the greatest of all time at perfectly timing a tackle, making battles against the world’s best forwards look simple.

READ: 21 of the best quotes on Paolo Maldini: ‘His soul belongs to Milan’

Alessandro Nesta

It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that there is a strong Italian influence in our defence, considering how incredibly difficult it was for even the best attackers to penetrate Serie A defences in the 2000s.

Nesta was superb at Lazio, but it was at AC Milan that he hit a new level, winning two Champions League titles.

Andrea Pirlo

For the holding role, we had a real dilemma around whether to pick someone like Claude Makelele, who’d mainly break down opposition, or a creator.

As you can tell, we went for the latter, because who needs a midfielder that focuses on defending with a back four like ours? Not us, that’s for sure.

Zinedine Zidane

This man was simply incredible, and his sublime volley in the final against Bayer Leverkusen encapsulated his unparalleled technical quality in one beautiful moment.

The Frenchman was capable of orchestrating attacks with the perfect mix of devastation and divinity, so with the others included in this lineup, there would be some truly spectacular football on show with this man around.

READ: A celebration of Zinedine Zidane and an amazing era for French football

Clarence Seedorf

We had to pick somebody from the Ajax team that won the Champions League in 1994-95, and it helps that Seedorf also won the competition with Real Madrid and twice more with AC Milan.

The Dutchman is still the only player to win the competition with three different clubs, so we’re surprised he didn’t get into the original lineup.

Raul

Look, we know Raul was mainly a striker, but we couldn’t leave out Ronaldo so we had to compromise to get him into the lineup and the Spaniard played on the right-wing a few times to facilitate the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Raul was the Champions League’s top-scorer two seasons in a row and is joint-third with Lewandowski in the all-time goalscoring charts, while he also won the trophy three times.

For a long time the standard-bearer for European forwards, before Messi and Ronaldo came along and redefined what we think of as prolific.

Ronaldinho

If you look up the word fun in the dictionary, all you’ll see is Ronaldinho with a massive smile on his face and a ball at his feet.

Whenever you watched the magician you knew you were in for a treat. He could score outrageous goals and execute intricate skills with ease.

Not only that but he helped Barcelona win the Champions League back in 2006, cementing his status as a great as he managed it whilst holding the Ballon d’Or that year.

He was always going to make our team.

READ: A forensic analysis of the night Ronaldinho had Real fans on their feet

Ronaldo

There are some incredible strikers who missed out, but Ronaldo had to be the man leading the line in spite of never actually winning the Champions League.

The Brazilian was scarily good, possessing the ability to drift past pretty much any defender at will and tuck any chance away with ease. Watching him was a spectacle in itself.


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