Thursday, May 22, 2014

All Eras Draft

This is the team that I selected for my All Eras Draft at

GK: Peter Shilton (England) 
Peter Shilton is considered one of the greatest keepers ever.  He is England's all-time cap record-holder with 125.  He earned his first cap in 1970 and his last 20 years later in 1990.  He took England to 4th place in the 1990 World Cup.  He played for 11 different clubs in his career, all in England.  He won two straight European Cups in 1979 and 1980 with Nottingham Forrest. He was PFA Players' Player of the Year: 1977–78, an award rarely won by a goalkeeper.

Peter Shilton 

GK: Sam Hardy (England)
Sam Hardy was discovered by Liverpool FC after playing against them with Chesterfield. Sam Hardy joined Liverpool in 1905. By the end of his first season he had bagged a Football League First Division championship medal as Liverpool won their second title in five years. Later, he played for Aston Villa between 1912 and 1921 and Nottingham Forest between 1921 and 1925. He was capped 21 times with the English national team, which was then an astonishing number.  He was widely considered to be England's first ever star keeper. 
Sam Hardy

RB: Jorginho (Brazil)
Jorginho started with América Football Club in Brazil, moving after just one season to Flamengo. In 1989, he went to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Germany's Bundesliga. Then, he played with Bayern Munich, where he reached the heoght of his club career.  He later played with Kashima Antlers,  São Paulo, Vasco da Gama and Fluminense.  He was capped 64 times for Brazil. He played at both the 1990 and the 1994 FIFA World Cups, winning the one in 1994.
CB/RB: Sergio Ramos 
Sergio Ramos is a part of the all-conquering Spanish team that won the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships in 2008 and 2012.  He is the youngest player ever to receive his 100th caps. He joined Real Madrid as a teenager from Sevilla. He scored the tying goal as Real Madrid won their 10th European Cup in 2014.  He also won his second Champions' League title by scoring a goal in the 2016 Final.  In 2018, he won his fourth Champions League Cup with Real Madrid.
Sergio Ramos
CB: Karl-Heinz Forster (Germany)
With West Germany, Karl-Heinz Forster earned 81 caps between 1978 and 1988. He won the European Championship in 1980, and came 2nd at the World Cup in both 1982 and 1986.  He was regarded one of the best defenders in the 1980's.  For his club career, he played with VFB Stuttgart and Marseille.  With Stuttgart, he won a Bundesliga in the 1983–84 season.  He won two league titles in France. His brother Bernd also played for West Germany and VfBStuttgart.
Karl-Heinz Forster 
CB: Rio Ferdinand (England)
Rio Ferdinand became the youngest defender to play for the Three Lions at the time in 1997.   He played 81 times for England  between 1997 and 2011, and was a member of three World Cup squads.  At one point, he was the most expensive British footballer and also broke the world's record transfer fees for a defender twice. He won the Champions' League with Manchester United in 2008. He also played for Leeds United and West Ham.
Rio Ferdinand 
LB: Antonio Cabrini (Italy)
Antonio Cabrini was one of the best leftbacks in the world during his time.   He spent the best part of his club career with Juventus, winning the European Cup in 1985. He started his career with  U.S. Cremonese. He also played for Atalanta and Bologna. He picked up 73 caps, and went to the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cup Finals. He was remembered for being a part of Italy's great defensive unit that won the World Cup in Spain. 
Antonio Cabrini

RB/LB: Denis Irwin (Ireland)
Alex Ferguson considered him his greatest ever signing.  He played over 200 games for Manchester United, winning the Champions' League in 1999 and 7 Premiership titles. He also played for Leeds United and Oldham Athletic, and finished his career with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Irwin was capped by the Republic of Ireland national side 56 times, scoring four goals and featuring in the side that reached the second round (last 16) at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
Denis Irwin
CM: Edgar Davids (Netherlands)
Nicknamed "the Pitbull", Edgar Davids was one of the greatest defensive midfielders in the world.  At the club level, he won the European Champions' League with Ajax in 1995, a team considered to be the best ever club side.  He also spent 7 seasons with Juventus in Italy at the height of his career.  He played 74 times for the Dutch national team between 1994 and 2005.  He was an important player at the World Cup Finals in 1998 when Netherlands reached the semi-final. 
Edgar Davids
HM/CM: Jozsef Bozsik 
Jozsef Bozsik was considered the second best Hungarian player of all-time after his childhood friend Ferenc Puskus.  He was one of the greatest central midfielders in world football history.  He was also a member of the Mighty Magyars of the 1950's.  At the club level, he played for Honved.  After the Revolution of 1956, he returned to Hungary and continued to play for both Hungary and Honved.  He picked up 101 caps for Hungary between 1947 and 1962.  Honvéd named their stadium, Bozsik József Stadion, after him.
 Jozsef Bozsik 
AM/CM: Didi (Brazil)
Didi is considered one of the greatest players ever from Brazil.  He was capped 68 times for Brazil between 1952 to 1962. He was voted the best player in the 1958 World Cup Finals.  He was also on the 1954 and 1962 team.  He joined Real Madrid in the 1950's, but returned after less than a year because of a personal feud with Alfredo di Stefano. He also played with Garrincha at Botafogo, a team considered among the best ever club side in Brazil.  His longest stint in Brazil was spent with Fluminense FC.
RW: Stanley Matthews (England)
Stanley Matthews is the only player to have been knighted while still playing, as well as being the first winner of both the European Footballer of the Year and the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year awards. Sir Matthews is widely considered the greatest English player of all-time. Between 1937 and 1957 he won 54 caps for England, playing in the World Cup in 1950 and 1954, and winning nine British Home Championship titles.  For his club career, he played with Stoke and Blackpool.
Sir Stanley Matthews
LM/CM: Wolfgang Overath (Germany)
Wolfgang Overath was one of the best left midfielders in history,  He won the 1974  World Cup, where he kept Gunter Netzer from the starting lineup. In total he won 81 caps for the West German national side between 1963 and 1974, scoring 17 goals.  In addition to 1974 World Cup Finals, he also went to the 1966 and 1970 World Cup Finals. He spent all of his career with Koln.  He played for them between 1963 and 1974.
Wolfgang Overath
LW: Ryan Giggs (Wales)
Giggs was Sir Alex's longest serving player at Manchester United, where he played from 1990 to 2014.  He also holds the club record for competitive appearances. During his time at United, he won 13 Premier League winner's medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, three League Cup winner's medals and two Champions League winner's medals. He is widely considered one of the greatest British wingers in modern history. He played 64 times for Wales.  He led Great Britain at the London Olypmpics in 2012.
Ryan Giggs
FW/SS: Dennis Bergkamp (Netherlands)
Dennis Bergkamp was the best-known Dutch player of the mid-1990's.  He had 92 caps. He helped Netherlands to reach the semi-final of the 1998 WC Finals in France.  His goal vs Argentina at was considered among the best ever scored in World Cup history.  He also played in the World Cup Finals of 1994 and three European Championship. He started with Ajax and played for Inter Milan.  He also had a very successful career with Arsenal, winning 7 major titles.
Dennis Bergkamp
ST: Gerd Muller 
"Der Bomber" was widely considered to be the greatest striker in history. He scored 68 goals in 62 matches for Die Mannschaft.   He scored 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga appearance, mostly with Bayern Muinch.   He won three straight European Cup with Bayern Munich in 1974, 1975 and 1976. At the international level, he played over 60 times for West Germany.  He won the World Cup in 1974 and the European Championship in 1972. He was the European Player of the Year in 1970. 

Gerd Muller

-- 1 player from Amateur Era (1872-1929): Sam Hardy.
-- 3 players from Classic Era (1930-1959): Stanley MathhewsJozsef BozsikDidi.
-- 5 players from Modern Era (1960-1989): Gerd MullerKarl-Heinz ForsterAntonio CabriniWolfgang OverathPeter Shilton.

-- 7 players from Nowadays (1989-2020): Ryan GiggsSergio Ramos, JorginhoDennis BergkampEdgar DavidsDenis Irwin

Round by Round

Round 1: Sir Stanley Matthews (15th pick)
I was not prepared.  I have not thought deep about my game plan.  Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane were high priorities, but I felt that the modern 4-3-3 formation does not need an attack midfielder.  So I targeted the Classic Era for my first pick of the draft without any deep study of the player pool.  Garrincha, Didi and Sir Matthews were my main choices.  In one of the older drafts, I was punished by drafting Garrincha because one poster thought that his dribbling skills would be useless in the modern game.  So I went with Matthews, which l later thought it was a mistake. 

Round 2: Gerd Muller (22th pick)

I still had not gotten a game plan.  The original list was 1) Van Basten, 2) Platini 3) Zidane 4) Didi.  The first three went before my turn. At last minute, I went with Gerd Muller whom I thought was the best player available.  My past experience told me that I needed a goal scorer who could scored a lot of goals.  Besides, I did not want to waste two of my "Classic Players" on the first two rounds.

Round 3: Didi (45th)

I could not believe that Didi was still available.  

Round 4: Jozsef Bozsik (52th)

I believed in a strong midfield.  Bozsik was around.  I have second thoughts because I would be finished with Classic Players in 4 rounds.  I also wondered a midfield of Didi and Bozsik would work, but Bozsik is probably the best player available.  Later, I discovered that Bozsik was a holding midfielder.  The pait could operated together liked Iniesta and Xavi, or Modric and Kross.  The formation was set to be 4-3-3.  I needed a Busquets and Casemiro to team up with Bozsik and Didi.

Round 5: Karl-Heinz Forster (75th)
For awhile, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was available.  So I studied with the idea of playing him on the left forward/wing forward position.  I don't think he could be used on the left.  Anyway, he was taken before my turn. So I focused on defence.  I thought of drafting a pair of centerbacks in the next two rounds, but the fullback position was getting thin.  Carlos Alberto, Junior, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, Paul Breitner, Berti Vogts, Claudio Gentile, Guissepe Bergomi, Javier Zanetti, Andreas Brehme and Silvio Marzolini were taken right before my turn.  In the end, I went with Karl-Heinz Forster.  Alan Hansen, Héctor Chumpitaz and Sergio Ramos were considered. I was going to take Alan Hansen in the next round.

Round 6: Antonio Cabrini (82th)
Alan Hansen was going to be my next pick, but the fullback position was going fast. I also only considered wingback because of the modern game.  I went with leftback Antonio Cabrini.  I thought a large number of rightbacks were still around.  I targeted Leandro for my next pick (he was taken soon after).  Sergio Ramos, Kompany, Rio, Campbell, etc would be around in the late rounds, I predicted.

Round 7: Edgar Davids (105th)
I studied the left wing/wing forward position.  I noticed both Michael Laudrup and Omar Sívori were undrafted.  Laudrup was ruled out because he did not play much on the left, but I found Sivori scoring plenty of goals on the left forward position.  He was high on my list, but he was taken(Laudrup too) before my turn.  So I decided to go with a defensive midfielder because the midfield was the most important of my team.  I was looking someone who could defend.  Roy Keane, Edgar Davids, Claude Makelele, Dave Mackay and Billy Bremner were the top choices in that order.  I wanted to draft a "Nowaday" player because I have not spent a pick on that era and I got 7 picks. So Mackay and Bremner were not seriously considered. Keane was my first choice, but he was actually more of a box-to-box midfielder.  I needed a more defensive player, but he was the most famous defensive midfielder.  Luckily, he was drafted a pick before my turn.  I did not have to make a choice. So I went with Edgar Davids who could be a destroyer as well as a box-to-box midfielder.  

Round 8: Ryan Giggs (107th)
Dragan Džajić was my first choice, but I wanted to save my Modern Player slot.  So I went with Giggs.  Stoichkov and Neymar were seriously considered.  They might be a better option for my team than Giggs. Neymar is a controversial and a newer player so I expected him to drop.  I actually thought that I could draft him at a later stage as a sub.  Anyway, I always love wingers who could dribble.

Round 9: Jorginho (135th)
The number of rightbacks were going fast. At that point, I already drafted three Modern Player out of five.  I did not want to waste a 4th Modern Player at that point.  Manfred Kaltz was my first choice. He probably fit better with Matthews.  Meanwhile, I was looking at Wim Suurbier, Eric Gerez, Nelinho, and Phil Neal.  Neal was too defensive while Nelinho probably was a borderline for this draft.  I liked Maicon, but I did not know how much Gareth Bale destroyed his reputation.  Jorginho was the safer bet at this point.

Round 10: Sergio Ramos (142th)
The position is still deep, but I wanted to complete my team before a rundown of centerbacks.  I was worried about how other rated him.

Round 11: Sam Hardy (165th)
I discovered that I must start a player from the Amateur Era in the "ranking".  Dixie Deane would be my first choice for that era, but I do not want to bench Gerd Muller.  So I opted for a keeper.  My top three choices were Sam Hardy, Elisha Scott and Americo Tesoriere were on my list.  .I still have plenty of "Nowadays" picks so I probably would draft Van Der Sar and Cech.

Round 12: Dennis Bergkamp (172th)
The goalkeeper position remained plentiful at that stage. So I went for an attacker.  Although Matthews was my first pick, I feel that he might be a liability when it came to playing with a modern wingback. So I wanted to find a right side forward who could play with Jorginho.  I was also looking at someone who could play as a False 9, a trendy position in the modern game.  Bergkamp seemed to be the right choices.  

Round 13: Peter Shilton (195th)
Mario Coluna went undrafted.  He would probably start over Edgar Davids.  So he was my target, but he was drafted 6 picks before my turn.  Instead, I went for a goalkeeper because Cech and Van de Sar were only "safer" goalkeepers available.  Without Coluna, I could use a Modern Player slot.  I could not believe it when I realized that Peter Shilton went undrafted. 

Round 14: Wolfgang Overath (202th)
Both Sandro Mazzola and Wolfgang Overath went undrafted.  I was thinking of the use of subs.  I would rather bench Davids than Didi or Bozsik.  Overath was not really a box-to-box midfielder, but he could play deeper than Mazzola. I could live with a midfield of Didi-Bozsik-Overath.  Dejan Savićević was also considered, but I did not need a winger.  Manfred Kaltz and Wim Suubier were high on my list because of subs.  I thought that Jorghinho was my weak link.  I need someone to take his place during the tournament, but after I took Overath, I used my last Modern slot.

Round 15: Denis Irwin (225th)
I need to draft a defender and he could only be a Nowaday player.  Vincent Kompany, Rio Ferdinard, Nemanja Vidic and Sol Campbell were on my list. Marcelo was considered, but I did not know how to rank.  In the end, I took Denis Irwin because he was more solid.  He could play on both side of my fullback position. He worked with Ryan Giggs.  As a traditional fullback, he probably would be a better fit with Matthews.

Round 16: Rio Ferdinand (232th)
Vincent Kompany, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Sol Campbell remained on the board.  I took Rio because FourFourThree voted him as the greatest centre back in Premiership's history.  He is also a cultured defender.  Vidic was my second choice.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool all used a variation of the 4-3-3 formation. How many Champions League titles did they win since 2014? The 4-3-3 is the way in this decade.

I believe the battle of the midfield is the most important element of the game.  I built my midfield based upon two of the greatest trios of the midfielders in the last decade, namely Real Madrid of Modric, Kroos and Casemiro and Barcelona of Xavi, Andreas Iniesta and Sergio Busquest.  I also considered Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool as an inspiration.

The midfield is very balanced. Bozsik is the holding midfielder(a cross between Xavi and Busquets), Didi my roaming playmaker and Davids my box-to-box midfielder. When defending, Davids can become the best destroyer ever in the game. So my midfield can do short and long passes (Didi/Bozsik), dribble (Didi/Davids), run (Davids), interception (Bozsik and perhaps Davids) and destroy (Davids). They can control the midfield.

Against England on the video below, Jozsef Boszik showed a lot of his defensive side. He intercepted a lot of attacks with smart positioning. He was a good tackler well. When he attacked, he seemed to spray many longer passes from the deep position. He scored a goal at the edge of the box, but he did not operate much near that area throughout the game.

Didi, on the other hand, moved the ball forward by dribbling and short passes. He also operated more advanced than Bozsik.  He is liked a free roaming playmaker.

The relationship between Didi and Jozsef Bozsik would be similiar between Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.  Kroos usually sits deeper in the back while Modric roams freely all over the field.  

Meanwhile, manager Zinedine Zidane normally use Casemiro as a pivot to protect the midfield.  Since Bozsik was a good defensive player, I do not need a destroyer on the team.  Instead, the third member of my midfield is a box-to-box midfielder. Edgar Davids'  dribble skills was better than some of the wingers and attack midfielders.  When defending, Davids could become one of the greatest destroyers in the game.  So I do have a destroyer on the team. I expected Bozsik and Davids to form a defensive line that could stop any attack in this draft.

The front is a basic formation.  Gerd Muller plays in the middle, flanked by two fast and skillful wingers, Ryan Giggs and Stanley Matthews.  Two wingbacks joined in for support.   As shown in the videos, Gerd Muller scored most of his goals from wing plays.

Defence: Karl-Heinz Forster is the starter, but I have no preference for Sergio Ramos or Rio Ferdinand.   I even think Karl-Heinz Forster should be a part of three backs rotation.  Denis Irwin can play on both side of the flank.  I will be using a rotation of the three fullbacks.

Basically, I am using Wolfgang Overath as a sub for Edgar Davids. If going gets tough, I will pull Davids for Overath, an extra playmaker. Bozsik needs to cover the midfield if that happened.
Is Overath a box-to-box midfielder? Not really. But he was not a bad defensive player and he normally operated in the area from box to box in a 4-3-3 formation. He could replace Davids as a sub.  The midfield would probably play with a tiki taka type of passing games.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Giancarlo Antognoni: the forgotten man of Italian football

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
Italian diaspora
Southern ItalyCentral Italy,
Northern Italy(excluding Lombardy)Lombardy
Italy after 1982Italy between 1938 and 1982.
What if Italy Euro 1992

Giancarlo Antognoni was the heart and soul of Fiorentina during the 1970's and 1980's.  He is regarded as one of the club's greatest players ever wore the purple jersey.  He started his career not with Fiorentina but with Italian Serie D club Astimacobi.   In 1972, Nils Liedholm convinced him to join Fiorentina.  He played over 400 games for them and holds the record for the most appearances in Serie A for Fiorentina, with 341 appearances.

During his prime, Antognoni was considered to be one of the Italian players in his generation. However, he does not have the same name recognition of his contemporaries, despite helping Italy to win the World Cup.  Paulo Rossi scored 6 goals and was proclaimed the hero of the World Cup.  Dino Zoff was the captain that organised one of the best defence in history.  Along with Marco Tardelli, Gaetano Scirea, Claudio Gentile and Antonio Cabrini, they also built a dynasty with Juventus at the club level.  Giancarlo Antognoni, on the other hand, stayed loyal with Fiorentina and only won a Coppa Italia in 1975.  He also missed the World Cup Final due to an injury.

Antognoni had his best chance to win a major trophy for his club team during the 1981-1982 season.  Earlier in the season, he suffered a horrible, head  injury after being knocked down by Genoa's goalkeeper, Artemio Franchi.  His career could have ended that day.  Despite Antognoni missing many games, Fiorentina still managed to be level on points with Juventus heading to the final game of the season, but Fiorentina could not break the deadlock against Cagliari while Juventus won by a single goal. Liam Brady who already knew that Juventus had signed Michel Platini as his replacement scored the only goal from the penalty. 

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.