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Sometimes, and this will shock you, we can be a bit short of ideas here.
And sometimes that means taking a quite good feature idea and doing the less good opposite version as a companion/counterpoint.
Whether or not this is one of those times is for you to decide as we proudly present a deeply silly kind-of-workable XI of players who haven’t won the Champions League but surely one day – maybe one day very, very soon in lots of cases – will do…
GOALKEEPER: Thibaut Courtois
Six of the last 10 Champions Leagues have been won by Chelsea or Real Madrid. Courtois has spent the entirety of that time employed by Chelsea or Real Madrid. He has managed to win none of those six Champions Leagues. He was on loan at Atletico Madrid for three years, including Chelsea’s 2012 win and being in goal for Atleti’s 4-1 extra-time defeat as Real secured La Decima in 2014. Courtois then joined Real Madrid just after they’d won their third consecutive title – and fourth in five years – in 2018. They are back in the final for the first time since, Chelsea having helped themselves to the 2021 crown in the meantime. He may well win this one and if not it’s surely only a matter of time before this silly Real Madrid side banter their way to title number 14 anyway. Surely.
CENTRE-BACK: Ibrahima Konate
Look, full disclosure: Liverpool and Real Madrid players who weren’t at those clubs in 2019 and 2018 respectively are going to make up a lot of this side. Even allowing for the fact that both are in the final right now, they’re also the two sides who have consistently proved most likely to get there over the last six or seven years. If not this year, these lads will surely have further gilt-edged chances. We’re also going to go three at the back to shoehorn in some very, very silly but very, very fun wing-backs. We make no apology for that – in fact you should look forward to it. The League Cup represented Konate’s first major honour after collecting runners-up medals in the DFB-Pokal in 2019 and 2021. In a month’s time, he may well have plenty more. Winners’ medals that is. But also possibly runners-up medals. We don’t know the results yet, that is literally the entire premise of sport.
CENTRE-BACK: Dayot Upamecano
Easy to focus too much on Liverpool and Real Madrid here for obvious reasons but, despite a couple of iffy years in the competition, it’s worth remembering that Bayern Munich have – for another few weeks at least – won this competition more recently than either of them. Victory in 2020 may have covid caveats out the wazoo, but it was hardly a huge freak outlier result either. It was their second win of the last 10 years to go with defeat in the 2012 final and four further trips as far as the semi-finals. And there’s never any danger of the Bavarians failing to qualify is there? Upamecano is 23 and an established first-teamer with four years left on his current contract and every prospect of plenty more after that. You’d have to think he has a great many chances ahead of him and if he does move it’s hardly likely to be to a team with no chance either. Unless it’s Man City.
CENTRE-BACK: Mohammed Salisu
Okay, we’re clearly struggling here to a) get eleven players and b) shoehorn them into anything approaching a semi-plausible team. But the logic for this one is sound. He may have had a couple of bad games recently, but Salisu has been generally very good indeed for Southampton this season, and players who are very good indeed for Southampton very often end up at Liverpool, and being at Liverpool is, as we’ve established, a pretty good way to go about winning the Champions League. Obviously Salisu just needs to take very great care to avoid the fate of other players who are very good indeed for Southampton, and that is of course Tottenham.
LEFT WING-BACK: Luis Diaz
Is he a left wing-back? Absolutely not. But it would be fun, wouldn’t it? Has achieved the frankly absurd feat of rocking up in January and making Liverpool’s fearsome attack EVEN BETTER and was a key factor in preventing Tuesday’s wobble in Villarreal spiralling into full-blown crisis. He’s going to be at Liverpool for a good long while, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of Liverpool getting less good, so even if he doesn’t win the Champions League this season he probably will next year or the year after or whatever. This also applies to the Quadruple, by the way.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Eduardo Camavinga
There has been a tendency – and we’ve all been swept up in it – to avoid proper analysis of Real Madrid’s run to the Champions League final and focus instead on the vibes. It’s perfectly understandable, because those have been some pretty sensational vibes. The sheer stunning improbability of all three of their knockout ties against proper elite opposition does not lend itself to boring nerdery about how and why it’s happened. Why do that when you can simply watch Benzema headers or Modric passes on loop forever? You’d have to be an idiot. That being said, the combined aggregate score across those three two-legged ties for the ages has been Real Madrid 12-11 PSG/Chelsea/City. In the mere 161 minutes of those ties where Camavinga has been on the field that aggregate score is 9-2. Camavinga is the vibes.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Curtis Jones
Liverpool, innit. Only other midfielder we could really think of to go here, innit. If this team ever actually had to play a game of football – and we would dearly love to see it – then he and Camavinga would be extremely busy boys indeed. But we have almost no worries over fictitious workloads and nor should you.
RIGHT WING-BACK: Diogo Jota
What’s better than one absurd Liverpool wing-back choice in a fictitious XI that mainly exists as a throwaway counterpoint to a different fictitious XI? Two absurd Liverpool wing-back choices in a fictitious XI that mainly exists as a throwaway counterpoint to a different fictitious XI. We’ve gone full Ossie Ardiles and make no apologies for that whatsoever.
LEFT FORWARD: Vinicius Junior
His combinations with Karim Benzema were directly responsible for the havoc Madrid wreaked at Stamford Bridge to dig Chelsea into a hole just about deep enough that they couldn’t quite escape. Most importantly here, he is one of our key sweet-spot players: Real Madrid or Liverpool who wasn’t there when they last won Big Ears.
CENTRE FORWARD: Erling Haaland
Now, the banter answer here is that he should go in the other team because he’s going to join Manchester City and thus spend his absolute prime years winning everything else apart from the Champions League. But wait. Think about it. If you think there’s even a tiny chance that a slightly burnt out, past-his-explosive-peak Haaland doesn’t spend four generally disappointing seasons at Real Madrid from the age of 28 to 31 and yet somehow win two Champions League medals in that time then you are absolutely kidding yourself.
RIGHT FORWARD: Kylian Mbappe
He will spend five years at Real Madrid, and that means he is absolutely guaranteed (not a guarantee) to win at least one Champions League title because it is the history of the Real Madrid. Look at them now, for goodness’ sake. They’ve got literally three decent players and yet they’re in the final and may very well beat a Liverpool team for the ages. They could and should have been well beaten in all three of the ties that got them here. But the Champions League sparks something in Real Madrid. They can very easily win it even when a shambles. Imagine if they at some point manage not to be a shambles. Nobody else will get a look in. Again.
The article Liverpool and Madrid (obviously) dominate an XI of players destined to win the Champions League appeared first on Football365.com.