Tuesday, December 15, 2015

If Yugoslavia went to USA 1994

Yugoslavia European Qualifiers in 1992

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

Yugoslavia World Cup 2018
Serbia CroatiaSloveniaNorthern Macedonia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Argentina World Cup 1946
Hungary World Cup 1950

The national team of Yugoslavia in the 1990's has the potential to be among the greatest ever.  They won the World Youth Cup in 1987. The squad included several players who later found stardom in club football.  Then, in 1991, Red Star Belgrade won the European Cup.  They had a great run at Euro 1992 Qualifying rounds.  They won 7 out of 8 games and eliminated Denmark.  However, ten days before the tournament, Yugoslavia was banned from playing due to war in the region.  Denmark replaced them and went on to win the European Championship.  

I created a 22-member squad of Yugoslavia for the 1994 World Cup Finals.  This squad probably would be similar to Euro 1992 and 1996 as well. Yugoslavia actually announced an official squad for Euro 1992 before the ban.  Croatia and Slovenia already declared independent in 1991 so the their players were no longer available for selection.  All the Bosnians and Macedonians were also not included because of fighting.  The players I selected below, however, included players from all the former republics.  In my alternative world, Yugoslavia never broke up.  

The year 1994 was a good year for Yugoslavian players.  Dejan Savicevic was among the best player in the world.  Along with Boban, he helped AC Milan to win the Champions' League by beating Johan Cruyff's Barcelona 4-0 in the Final that year.  Davor Suker finished as the second best scorer at La Liga. Slaven Bilic was voted the second best defender in the Bundesliga. They had the talents to challenge the two finalists Brazil and Italy for the World Cup title.

Yugoslavia was grouped in Group of the UEFA World Cup Qualifying rounds alongside Greece, Russia, Hungary, Luxembourg and Iceland.  It was a relatively weak group.  Russia played in their first World Cup Qualifiers since their breakup.  Hungary was the only team that had qualified for the World Cup Finals before.  Yugoslavia with its talents could easily qualified as group winner, I predicted.  In real life, Russia and Greece qualified for the Finals, but both had a miserable campaign in the United States.  
Yugoslavia at the World Youth Cup, 1987.
The Team
GK: Drazen Ladic (Dinamo Zagreb)
Ladic was first capped by Yugoslavia in 1991.  He became the starting goalkeeper for Croatia after the independence.  He had 58 caps for Croatia and twice for Yugoslavia. He proved himself to be a great keeper in the 1998 World Cup Finals, despite giving up two easy goals during the qualifiers.   He spent most of his career with Dynamo Zagreb.

GK: Tomislav Ivkovic  (Victoria Setubal)
Ivkovic was the starting goalkeeper for Yugoslavia at the WC in Italy. He left Red Star Belgrade in 1985 to seek for a career in Western Europe.  He played in Austria, Belgium and mostly in Portugal. Ivković moved to Sporting Clube de Portugal in 1989, and remained there for the following four seasons, rarely missing a game, although he did not collect any silverware.

GK: Fahrudin Omerovic (Kocaelispor)
Omerović begin his career in FK Sloboda Tuzla.  In 1984, he  transferred to FK Partizan. With Partizan he won two Yugoslav championships, two Yugoslav Cups, and one Supercup.  He transferred to Kocaelispor in 1992. He played Kocaelispor for 4 years. After he moved to İstanbulspor and played there for 2 years. He was capped eight times for Yugoslavia between 1989 and 1992.

RB: Zoran Mirkovic  (FK Partizan)
Mirkovic started his with RAD back home.  He played Partizan before heading to Serie A in 1996.  He spent two seasons with Atalanta and then, secured a big move to Juventus.  In summer 2000, Mirković joined Fenerbahçe in Turkey. From 1995 to 2003, he was capped by Yugoslavia. He was a participant in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. 

RB/CM Branko Brnovic  (Espanyol)
Bronovic signed with FK Partizan in 1991, helping the club to back-to-back national championships. In 1994, Brnović joined Espanyol in La Liga.  Capped 6 times by Yugoslavia. He helped  the national to qualify for Euro 1992, only to be suspended due to the Yugoslav Wars.  Subsequently, Brnović represented the newly formed Serbia and Montenegro, being selected for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.

CB: Miroslav Djukic (Deportivo de La Coruña)
Miroslav Djukic spent 14 years of his professional career in Spain, notably for Deportivo de La Coruña and Valencia, winning six major titles for the two clubs combined. In 1994, while playing for Deportivo, Đukić missed a penalty kick in the game's last minute (eventual 0–0 draw). As a result FC Barcelona were crowned champions instead of Deportivo La Coruna. He had 48 caps and  played at Euro 2000 for Yugoslavia.
Miroslav Djukic
CB: Slaven Bilic  (Karlsruher SC)
Slaven Bilic career began in 1988 with Hajduk Split and he later had successful spells with Karlsruher SC in Germany, and West Ham United and Everton in England. At national level, Bilić earned 44 caps between 1992 and 1999 and playing in UEFA Euro 1996 and the 1998 World Cup, helping the team to third place at the latter tournament.

CB: Igor Stimac (Cádiz)
Igor Stimac won 53 caps and scoring two goals, and a member of the Croatian squad that came third at the 1998 World Cup. He was also a member of the highly talented Yugoslavia under-20 team that won the 1987 World Youth Championship.  In his playing career he had three spells with Hajduk Split and also played for Cádiz in Spain and for Derby County and West Ham United in England. 

CB: Nikola Jerkan  (Real Oviedo)
Jerkan played with Dinamo Vinkovci before moving to Hajduk Split in 1986. He moved to Real Oviedo in Spain in 1990. In 1991, in his second season there, he was selected for the best defender of La Liga.  He also played for Nottingham Forest, Rapid Vienna and Charleroi. He played for Croatia between 1992 and 1997, attaining 31 caps and scoring one goal.

CB/LB: Sinisa Mihajlovic  (AS Roma)
Sinisa Mihajlovic was capped 63 times between 1991 and 2003 for Yugoslavia.  He won the European Cup with Red Star Belgrade. In 1992, he moved to Italy and became was one of the best defender in Serie A, notably played for Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio and Inter Milan.  With Lazio, he won UEFA Cup Winners Cup: 1998–99. He was part of the golden generation of Yugoslav players who won the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in Chile.

LB: Robert Jarni (Torino)
Robert Jarni was a member of Yugoslavia's Golden Generation of the 1990's.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990 with Yugoslavia and later, represented Croatia at the World Cup Finals in 1998, where they reached the semifinal.  Professionally, he began Hadjuk Split had played in big clubs such as Juventus and Real Madrid as well as Real Betis where he had his longest spell. He also played in England and Italy.
Robert Jarni
DM: Slaviša Jokanović (Real Oviedo)
Slaviša Jokanović impressed at Partizan before spending seven seasons in La Liga at the service of three clubs, appearing in 208 matches and scoring 31 goals, mainly for Tenerife, but also Real Oviedo and Deportivo La Coruna.  He also played two years with Chelsea towards the end of his career, and represented Yugoslavia at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, earning 64 caps. 

CM: Aljoša Asanović  (Montpellier)
Asanović started his professional career with Hajduk Split in 1984. He played club football in France, Austria, Italy, Greece, England, Spain and Australia.  From 1987 to 1988, he represented Yugoslavia twice.  After Croatia's independence, he played 62 times for Croatia. He participated in the Euro 1996 as well as the 1998 FIFA World Cup, where Croatia won the bronze medal.

CM: Vladimir Jugovic (Sampdoria)
Jugovic was a member of Red Star Belgrade that won the European Cup in 1990.  He won another one with Juventus in 1996. He also played for Sampdoria, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Lazio, LR Ahlen, AS Monaco FC and VfB Admira Wacker Mödling. He warned 41 caps. He played at Euro 2000 and the World Cup 1998 for Yugoslavia.  His total of caps were limited because of the ban on Yugoslavia.

AM/CM: Zvonimir Boban  (AC Milan)
Zvonimir Boban was the captain of the national team that finished third at the World Cup in 1998.  He was also an important player of the highly talented Yugoslavia under-20 team that won the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship. He waas also remembered for his career with AC Milan with whom he won four Serie A and one UEFA Champions League titles. 

AM: Robert Prosinecki  (Real Madrid)
Robert Prosinecki was considered one of the most talented players from Yugoslavia in the 1990's.  In 1987, Prosinečki was named the tournament's best player as Yugoslavia won the World Youth Championship.  He then played for Yugoslavia at the 1990 World Cup and for Croatia at the European Champion in 1996, and both of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.  For his club career, he played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, but he failed to establish himself at neither club.
 Robert Prosinecki
AM: Dragan Stojkovic (Marseille)
Dragan Stojkovic is considered one of the best players in the history of Yugoslavian and Serbian football. He starred for Yugoslavia at the 1990 FIFA World Cup (where he was named in the World Cup All-Star Team) and 1998 FIFA World Cup where he captained the team. He was a star player at Red Star Belgrade, but he was playing for Marseille when Red Star Belgrade beat Marseille in the Final of the 1990 European Cup. He also played in Japan.

AM: Dejan Savicevic (AC Milan)
Dejan Savicevic was a part of the Red Star Belgrade team that won the 1990–91 European Cup before joining A.C. Milan in 1992. With Milan, he won three Serie A titles.  He was a key player for winning the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League. He represented Yugoslavia at the 1990 and 1998 World Cups.  However, his international career was limited by the FIFA ban on Yugoslavia during his prime.  He did not appear in the European Championship of 1992 as a result.
Dejan Savicevic
ST: Meho Kodro  (Real Sociedad) 
Meho Kodro started with FC Velez Mostar back home, but he left for Spain because the war in Yugoslavia. He joined Real Sociedad in 1991.  He was second in Pichichi Trophy in 1994-1995. He moved to Barcelona the following year.  His stint lasted a single season. He earned two caps for Yugoslavia and 13 more for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

ST: Davor Suker (Sevilla)
Devor Suker was a part of Yugoslavia's Golden Generation in the 1990's.  He later played for Croatia, where he is the all-time leading scorer for the national team.  He is best remembered for finishing the top scorer at the World Cup in 1998, where Croatia reached the semifinal.  He also played with Sevilla, Real Madrid, Arsenal, West Ham and 1860 Munich.  He was a top scorer in La Liga while playing for Seville and Real Madrid.
Davor Suker
ST:  Alen Boksic (Lazio)
Alen Boksic won the 1992–93 UEFA Champions League, and was voted fourth in the 1993 European Footballer of the Year poll. That same year, he was named Croatian Footballer of the Year. He also won two Serie A titles in 1997 and 2000 with Juventus and Lazio respectively, and is regarded as one of the best foreign players in the history of Serie A since 1980's.  He played for both Yugoslavia and Croatia.  He missed the 1998 World Cup Finals due to an injury.

ST:  Predrag Mijatović (Valencia)
At club level, Mijatović played for six different clubs: Budućnost Podgorica, Partizan, Valencia, Real Madrid, Fiorentina and Levante. He is best remembered for scoring the winning goal against Juventus as Real Madrid won the 1998 Champions' league, the club's first title since 1966.  He played 73 times for Yugoslavia.  In 1997, Mijatović was runner-up for the Ballon d'Or, behind Ronaldo and ahead of Zinedine Zidane. He played in the 1998 World Cup Finals.
Predrag Mijatović 

Honorable mention
Zvonko Milojevic, Dzoni Novak, Zoran Vulic, Darko Milanic, Vujadin Stanojkovik, Budimir Vujacic, Davor Jozić, Slavisa Jokanovic, Mehmed Baždarević, Zlatko Zahovič, Dejan Petković, Vladan Lukic, Mario Stanic, Darko Pancev, Faruk Hadžibegić, Predrag Spasic, Refik Šabanadžović, Mehmed Baždarević, Džoni Novak. Gordan Petrić, Darko Milanič, Slaviša Jokanović, Risto Vidaković.

Too young for 1994, but strong candidates for 1998 and 2000

Ivca Kralj, Dejan Stankovic, Igor Tudor, Savo Milošević, Darko Kovačević, Dario Šimić, Niko Kovac, Robert Kovac, Mario Stanić 

Squad Explanation
-- I did an intensive review of the team on July, 2023.
-- A lot of people have written about what if Yugoslavia played in the Euro 1992, largely because their replacement team Denmark won the tournament.  However,  I chose to select a squad for the 1994 World Cup Finals because the World Cup would be more interesting than the European Championship.  Most of the players were in their prime that year.  In 1992, players such as Davor Suker, Robert Jarni, Zvonimir Boban, Allen Boksic, etc were too young. Members of the 1987 World Youth Championship team would be in their prime by 1994.
-- Nine members of this team went to the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy.  They were Alen Boksic, Davor Suker, Dejan Savicevic, Dragan Stojkovic, Robert Prosinecki, Robert Jarni, Faruk Hadžibegić, Fahrudin Omerovic and Tomislav Ivkovic.
-- Yugoslavia actually did not send their best players to Chile for the 1987 World Youth Championship.  They did not bring Alen Bokšić, Siniša Mihajlović and Vladimir Jugović to Chile believing that it would be more beneficial for them to play domestic club football at home than playing in this tournament.  Even Robert Prosinečki who was the star of the tournament was asked to return home to play for Red Stars Belgrade for a UEFA tie during the tournament.   Zvonimir Boban, Davor Šuker, Robert Jarni, Predrag Mijatović and Branko Brnovic all played well in Chile.  Coach Mirko Jozic stayed in Chile and took over Colo-Colo after the tournament.  In 1991, they became the first Chilean club to win the Copa Libertadores.  He become the first European manager to do it.
-- Without the war, some of the players would not be drifting around the world searching for a club to play.  
-- On 17 October 1990, Croatia played their first ever games in the modern time.  They officially joined the UEFA in June 1993, but the qualification for the 1994 World Cup Finals already started.  So there were no a part of the World Cup cycle. FR Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) did not play its first match as a new country until 23 December 1994.  The team would later separate into Serbia and Montenegro. Slovenia played their first international game in 1992, but they also missed out on the qualifiers for USA 1994.  Macedonia's first international game was in 1994.  Bosnia and Herzegovina held its fiorst match in 1995.
-- On 16 May 1991, three days before Croatia held an independence referendum, Yugoslavia played their last official game with players from Croatia (all of their republics presented).  They beat Faroe Islands 7-0.
-- Yugoslavia's last international match was against the Netherlands in March, 1992.  There were no Croatian on the team, but the team was a mixture of players from all over Yugoslavia.  Vladimir Jugovic and Dragan Stojkovic were the only Serbs who played that day.  They would play a friendly match against Florentino before the Euro 1992.
-- I did not know much about their goalkeepers in 1994.  I went for the three big names in the 1990's.
-- Tomislav Ivkovic left Sporting CP for GD Estoril Praia in January, 1993.  He did not play much in the 1993-1994 season as Estoril finished last in the league. Transfermarkt did not provide stats on him between 1993 and 1995.  Nevertheless, he became famous for saving Diego Maradona's kick during the penalty shootout in the 1990 World Cup Finals.  And a few months before, he had also saved a penalty from him in UEFA Cup game between Sporting CP and Napoli.  I took him because he was a famous goalkeeper. He was still Yugoslavia's starting goalkeeper until 1991 after Croatian players withdrew from the Yugoslavia national team.  I did not know why he did not play for Croatia after 1991.  
Tomislav Ivkovic
-- Dražen Ladić was Croatia's first choice goalkeeper throughout the 1990's. Of course, Ladic would make a name in the 1998 World Cup Finals.  After making two caps for Croatia in 1990, he then made his international debut for Yugoslavia in 1991. He played in the last 25 minutes of a Euro 1992 qualifier against the Faroe Islands in 1991 where he replaced Ivkovic. The match against the Faroes was also the last match where Croatian footballers represented the Yugoslavia national team.
-- Fahrudin Omerović was the last starting goalkeeper for Yugoslavia before the ban in 1992.  He took over from Tomislav Ivkovic who was fro Croatia. He played in Turkey for Kocaelispor between 1992 and 1995, where he achieved a legendary status.  
--  I also looked into those players. Zvonko Milojević was Red Stars Belgrade's first choice in this period. He actually beat Dragoje Leković out to become.a starter at the club level.  Lekovic was playing in different Montenegrin clubs by 1994. He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990 and 1998.  Marko Simeunovič (Slovenia) was also an active player for Slovenia in this period.
-- Miroslav Djukic missed a penalty in the last match of La Liga that season.  Because of the miss, Deportivo La Coruna would lose the league title to Barcelona. Otherwise, he was a top defender from here at the time. Slaven Bilic was voted as the second best defender in the Bundesliga. In the early 1990's Nikola Jerkan was a top defender with Real Oviedo in Spain. In 1991, he was selected as the best defender of La Liga.  Igor Stimac was becoming a mainstream player for Croatia around this period.  Later, he would be known for his career in Derby and West Ham. They were my four central defenders.
-- Ilija Najdoski helped Red Star Belgrade winning the 1991 European Cup.  He was playing regularly for Yugoslavia during the qualification of  Euro 1992.  He played in the first ever official match of Macedonia, on 13 October 1993, against Slovenia, but he was not in the squad for the games late in 1993.   Throughout this period, he received some caps, but not always on the lineup. At the club level, he played in Spain for Real Valladolid, but moved to Denizlispor in the summer of 1994.  In 2023, I dropped him for an extra midfielder (see below).  He represented both Yugoslavia and Republic of Macedonia in international matches. 
-- Gordan Petrić was doing fine in Scotland with Dundee United, but I stayed with the other 4 central defenders.  Darko Milanič would become the captain of Slovenia's Euro 2000 team.  He moved to the Austrian side Sturm Graz after the 1992-1993 season.  In 1994, he was 27 years old.  He would spend 8 seasons there.  Risto Vidaković would move to Real Betis in the summer of 1994, and was playing well for them.  They all seemed good candidates, but I stayed with the other four defenders.
-- Faruk Hadžibegić was  a regular member of the Yugoslavia national team in 1992, but he was 36 years old at the time of the 1994 World Cup Finals.  Srečko Katanec played once for Slovenia in 1994, but in club football, he was not featured much for Sampdoria.  He retired that year.  Davor Jozić was 34 years playing club football in Mexico. Predrag Spasic was a flop with Real Madrid a few years earlier.  His career was almost coming toward its end. His 1993-1994 season ended with his club Osasuna being relegated.  Those players were more famous, but seemed to have passed their prime. So I decided not to select them.  
-- It seemed that Branko Brnović was playing as a rightback in the early 1990's for Yugoslavia.  I was not sure.  He played in the last three official matches of Yugoslavia right before it broke up.  He moved to Espanyol in 1994.  He later would become a well-known defensive midfielder. His brother Dragoljub played in 1990 World Cup Finals.  Zoran Mirković was an emerging talents in the 1993-1994 season. He was 22 years old.  I took the two of them as my rightbacks.  Željko Petrović struggled to find playing time with Sevilla due to foreign quota at the time.  Sevilla had Diego Maradona on their team.  Before the World Cup Finals, he was playing for lowly Den Bosch in the Netherlands.  He was basically an forgotten player at the time.  He would later made a name with RKC Waalwijk the season after the World Cup Finals.  I also looked into rightback Vujadin Stanojković.
-- Siniša Mihajlović was mainly used as a left back in Rome.  He had one of his worst seasons in the 1993-1994 season, but I still took him because he was a famous player.  Robert Jarni already represented Yugoslavia in the 1990 World Cup.  In the 1993-1994 season, he was playing for Torino, a club in turmoil during the period.  He was sold to rival Juventus in the summer of 1994.  The pair kept Budimir Vujačić out of the team.
Sinisa Mihajlovic
-- First, I selected Vladimir Jugovic and Aljoša Asanović.  Jugovic had a great season that year with Sampdoria.  He was a part of the team that won the Coppa Italia.  Asanović returned from Montpellier to join Hajduk Split in 1994, which was then an ambitious club.  He was lured back to his club alongside s Stjepan Andrijašević and Igor Štimac. 
-- During the review in July 2023, I realised that the team probably needed a defensive midfielder.  All of the midfielders on the team were attack midfielders. Vladimir Jugovic was more balanced, but he was still more offensive-oriented than what the team needed.  I did not know when Branko Brnović became a midfielder.  Siniša Mihajlović played as a defensive midfielder earlier in his career.  So he could be the answer to my problem.  AS Roma as mentioned used him as a leftback during this period.  
-- So I looked into several defensive midfielders. Refik Šabanadžović was starring for AEK Athens in Greece, but his last cap was in 1990.  Mehmed Baždarević earned 52 caps by the time of the 1994 World Cup Finals, but he was 34 years old.  He was also a very offensive-oriented player.  So I turned to Slaviša Jokanović.  He was only 25 years old in 1994.  He had became a mainstream for Yugoslavia toward the end of the Euro 1992 Qualifiers. He actually made the final roster for the Finals in Sweden.  So in 2023, I replaced Ilija Najdoski with him.
--- Dejan Savicevic was among the best player in the world. Along with Zvonimir Boban, he helped AC Milan to win the Champions' League and the Scudetto that year.  They destroyed Barcelona's "Dream Team" in the Champions' League Final. His performance in the Final was one of the greatest individual displays seen in the competition.  He was probably one of the best player in the world if not the best in 1994.  The idea of this team actually came from his performance at the CL Final. In the momentous Final, Milan positioned Boban on the left side of midfield while Roberto Donadoni occupied the right. Savicevic, on the other hand, took up a prominent position at the forefront alongside Daniele Massaro. This tactical arrangement resulted in a resounding 4-0 triumph over Barcelona's "Dream" team.
-- During the summer of 1993, Ruud Gullit left AC Milan for Sampdoria on loan.  Zvonimir Boban became the trequartista on the team for the 1993-1994 season. He became one of the most important players for AC Milan's "Double" winning season.  If either Savicevic or Boban were Dutch or Swedish, their status in the history of AC Milan would be similar to the "Dutch Trio" or "Gre-No-Li".  The pair also did not have enough exposure from international football.  Boban was also capable to play on the wing.
-- Dragan Stojkovic was not in peak form. He spent two injury-riddled seasons in Europe before moving to play in Japan that year.  He was 30 years old in 1994, but I had to select the best player from Yugoslavia at the time. In real life, he played in the 1998 World Cup Finals and continued to represent FR Yugoslavia until Euro 2000 Finals.  
Dragan Stojkovic
-- Robert Prosinecki was a flop with Real Madrid.  He left the club on loan that summer, but this Yugoslavia team would probably still take him to USA 1994 based on his name recognition. He was 25 years old at the time.  He continued to be a regular member of Croatia national team until his retirement from the international game in 2002.
-- Dejan Petković grained some caps toward the last days of Yugoslavia in 1992 after the Croats stopped representing Yugoslavia.  In 1994, he was doing well with Red Stars Belgrade and later secured a move to Real Madrid in 1995.  He would later became a cult player in Brazil.  But this team had too many attack midfielders so I left him off the team.
-- Mario Stanić was a emerging player.  He was selected for Yugoslavia's Euro 1992 team, and his international debut with Croatia came in 1995.  He could play as a right winger, but I still left him off because this team had many attackers.
-- Darko Pancev had been out of form for a few years.  That season, he was basically out of Inter Milan's first team.  He went on loan to Leipzig in January, 1994, but he did not find his form there. He only scored 2 goals in the second half of the season.  Instead, I took Predrag Mijatović, Alen Boksic and Davor Suker.  
-- Predrag Mijatović scored 19 goals that season.  It would be his best ever output in a season.
-- Davor Zuker were in top shape that season.  He finished as the second top scorer at La Liga for Sevilla.  
-- Allen Boksic was a star the season before.  It was his best year.  He helped Marseille to win the Champions' League in 1993 and finished fourth at Ballon d' Or in that year.  He also won many individual award in the year 1993, but he was out of form in 1993-94 season and Marseilles was suffering from a match fixing scandal. In December, 1993, he left Marseille for Lazio.  Unlike Pancev, his top form was not that long ago.  In real life, he went to the 1990 World Cup Finals as an unused player.  In 1998, he was left off Croatia's World Cup team because of an injury.  He finally played in 2002.
-- Meho Kodro finished third in scoring in La Liga that year one goal behind Davor Zuker.  I tried my best to look at the players based on performance in 1994, but I still looked at name recognition.  In 1994, Kodro was probably ahead of Boksic or Prosinecki in terms of form, but the pair was considered the best players from Yugoslavia during that period.  Kodro would also finish second top scorer the year after the World Cup Finals and secured a big move to Barcelona. However, I would not have known that in 1994.  I decided to take them, instead of Kodro.  Many managers in the history of the World Cup Finals have done that. In 2020, I changed my mind and decided to take him.  I dropped centerback Predrag Spasic, who was a flop with Real Madrid.
-- Zlatko Vujović retired in 1993.  His last international match was in 1990.  Savo Milošević had a breakout season in Yugoslavia.  He scored 28 goals while winning the scoring title.  But the other forwards were simply too good.
Yugoslavia at World Cup 1990

Starting lineup
-- Bilic was voted the best centerback in Bundesliga at the conclusion of 1993-1994 season.
-- I opted to start two, younger midfielders.  Boban just won the Champions' League with Milan in 1994.  Jugovic was a top player in Italy as well.  I picked them over Katanec.
-- Sinisa Mihajlovic was out of form that season. 
-- Zuker was the second top-scorer at La Liga while Boksic was out of form with Lazio and scored only 4 goals that season.  

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Basque Greatest All-time 23 member team

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.   His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry of was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

Ignacio Kortabarria and José Ángel Iribar 1976 showing the Basque flag in 1976

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

The Basque country is the homeland of the Basque people.  It consists areas that are parts of Spain and France.  The Basque footballers have been capped by many countries. Athletic Bilbao is the symbol of Basque nationalism.  It is one of the most successful clubs in Spain.  It has an unwritten rule that the club only fields Basque players.  

It comprises the Autonomous Communities of the Basque Country and Navarre in Spain and the Northern Basque Country in France. The region is home to the Basque people (Basque: Euskaldunak), their language (Basque: Euskara), culture and traditions. The area is neither linguistically nor culturally homogeneous, and certain areas have a majority of people who do not consider themselves Basque, such as the south of Navarre

This is my All-Time 23 member team for the Basque people.  I am including overseas Basque players who were capped by other countries.  The number 23 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the World Cup Finals and other major tournaments.

Basque National Team
GK: Andoni Zubizarreta (Spain)
Andoni Zubizarreta represented La Roja in 4 World Cup Finals. He was at one point Spain's cap record holder.  He started with Athletic Bilboa.  He also played for Barcelona and Valencia.  He won Barcelona's first ever Champions' League in 1992.  After the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League, where Barcelona lost 0–4 to A.C. Milan in the final, Zubizarreta was deemed surplus to requirements.

GK: José Ángel Iribar (Spain)
José Ángel Iribor spent his entire career with Athletic Bibao from 1962 to 1980, except a season at the club's feeder club, CD Basconia.  He played over 600 games in a 18 year career.  For the national team, he played 49 times for Spain between 1964 and 1976. He was Spain's starting keeper at the 1964 European Championship as Spain won their first ever major trophy. He was also Spain's starting keeper at the World Cup Finals in 1966.

GK: Luis Arconada (Spain)
Luis Arconada played his entire career with Real Sociedad, capturing back-to-back La liga titles from 1980 to 1982.  He was capped 68 times, helping Spain to reach the Euro 1984 Final.  His blunder, however, in the Final caused Spain to lose in that Final against France. He also went to the 1978 and 1982 World Cups as well as Euro 1980. 

RB: José Orue (Spain)
José Orue was a long-time footballer for Atletic Bilboa during the 1950's.  At the time of writing, he is their fourth most appearance record for the club. He won one league and three Copa del Rey trophies in the 50's, including the double in the 1955–56 campaign.  He earned 3 caps for Spain.

RB/CB: Jose Nasazzi (Uruguay)
He was the captain of Uruguay's legendary team that won the World Cup in 1930.   He is regarded by many as Uruguay's greatest ever football player. He was known as "El Gran Mariscal" (The Great Marshal) and had already won the gold medal at the 1924 and 1928 Olympic Games, as well as the South American Championship in 1923, 1924 and 1926, by the time of the first World Cup.

CB:  Jacinto Quincoces (Spain)
Jacinto Quincoces was one of the greatest defenders of the pre-war era. He played for Deportivo Alavés from 1920 to 1931.  From 1931 to 1942, he played for Real Madrid.  He won the first ever title for Real Madrid in 1930.  He was widely considered one of the first soccer idols in Spain.  He played 25 times for Spain between 1928 and 1936.  He made his international debut in 1928 against Mexico.   He went to the World Cup Finals in 1934.
Jacinto Quincoces 
CB:  Andoni Goikoetxea (Spain)
Nicknamed "The Butcher" for his style of play, Goikoetxea played mainly for Atletic Bilboa, but also with Atletico Madrid.  He was a part of Javier Clemente's Bilboa team that won back-to-back league title from 1982 to 1984.  However, he was best remembered for almost ending Diego Maradona's career with a tackle in 1983.  A year later, he became the focal point of the infamous brawl between Barcelona and Atletic Bilboa at the Final of Copa del Rey.  

CB:  Jesús Garay (Spain)
Rated among the best ever centre-back to be capped for Spain, Garay went to the World Cup Finals in 1962.  He spent 10 seasons with Athletic Bilboa and then, Barcelona for another 5 seasons. He won five major titles with Athletic Bilboa. He also played a single season with CD Málaga. He had 29 caps. He was part of the squad that competed at the 1962 World Cup. 

LB:  Bixente Lizarazu (France)
Bixente Lizarazu was the leftback for the all-conquering French team of 1990's and early 2000's.  He won the World Cup in 1998 and European Championship in 2000. He had 97 caps. Lizarazu began his professional career with Girondins de Bordeaux, but better known for playing with Bayern Munich for 9 seasons. He won the Champions' League in 2001. He is a Basque and he also played for Atletico Bilbao. 

Bixente Lizarazu 

LB:  Agustin Aranzabal (Spain)
From 1993 to 2004, he starred for Real Sociedad. He helped the club to finish second during the 2002–03 season. He moved to Zaragoza in 2004, but could not find any successes.   He retired in 2008, but in early 2010, he retired and joined Kitchee SC from Hong Kong, playing along side Albert Celades.  He had 28 caps and went to the World Cuo Finals in 1998.

DM: Ignacio Zoco (Spain)
Ignacio Zoco was best remembered for his 12 seasons with Real Madrid. He was a member of the Ye Ye team of Real Madrid that defined an era in Spanish football.  He won the 1966 European Cup with the club.  He played more than 20 times with Spain, winning the 1964 European Nations' Cup and also representing the nation at the 1966 World Cup.

DM:  Didier Deschamps (France)
Deschamps was only the second player in history to captain his team to lift the three big trophies: the Champions League trophy, the World Cup trophy and the European Championship trophy.  He started his career with Nantes. The prime of his career was spent with Marseille and Juventus, where he won a Champions League for both club.  He earned 103 caps and was the captain of 1998 World Cup winning team for France.

CM/DM/LM: Jose Maria Zarraga (Spain)
From 1951 to 1961, he played for Real Madrid.  He won 11 major trophies, including 5 straight European Cups– he played in all the finals, and totalled 31 appearances combined in those victorious campaigns.  The 1959-1960 team was considered one of the greatest ever club sides in history. He made 8 appearance with Spain and once as the captain.

CM: Xabi Alonso  (Spain)
Xabi Alonso started with Real Sociedad.  He joined Liverpool in 2004 winning the Champions' League trophy in his first season.  In 2009, he moved to Real Madrid, winning the Champions' League again in 2014.  In 2014, he joined Bayern Munich. He was a key member of the Spanish team that won the World Cup in 2010 and two European Championships in 2008 and 2012.  His 114 caps make him the fifth most capped player in the nation's history.
Xabi Alonso
AM/RM: Gaizka Mendieta (Spain)
Gaizka Mendieta was a big star while playing for Valencia between 1993 and 2001.  He led them to back-to-back Champions' League Final in 2000 and 2001.  He moved to Lazio in 2001, but he failed to find his form.  Then, he played one season with Barcelona, where the club only finished 6th at the league.  He would also play with Middesbrough FC. He earned 40 caps. He went to Euro 2000 and the World Cup Finals in 2002.

LW: Agustin Gainza (Spain) 
Agustín Gaínza is one of Atletico Bilboa's greatest players.  He spent his entire career with Athletic Bilbao, winning 10 major titles between 1940 and 1959.  When he retired, he was the club's appearance record holder. He won 33 caps and was the captain of Spain in the 1950 World Cup Finals in Brazil, where they finished 4th.

FW/RW: Joseba Etxeberria (Spain)
Joseba Etxeberria started his career with Real Sociedad, but after a single season, he moved to Athletic Bilbao in 1995, breaking the transfer record for an under 18 player in Spain.  The transfer also broke off formal relationship between the two clubs. He was capped 53 times, representing his country at the 1998 World Cup,  Euro 2000 and Euro 2004.

AM/ST:  Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
Diego Forlan's career in Europe started slowly, but his career finally took off after heading to Spain in 2004.  He was two-time European Golden Shoe winner in 2004-2005 and then, 2008-2009.  His best years were with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, winning the UEFA Europa League with the latter. He had 112 caps, leading Uruguay to the 2011 Copa America title as well the semi-final of the 2010 World Cup Finals.  He won the Golden Ball at South Africa 2010.
Diego Forlan
ST: Mundo (Spain)
Edmundo Suárez Trabanco was known as Mundo.  He is the highest scorer in Valencia's history and remained one of the top scorers in La Liga's history.  He started his career with Athletic Bilbao, playing a single game before the Spanish Civil War cut short his stay.  He played for Valencia after the War between 1939 and 1950.  Capped 3 times.

ST: Rafael Moreno Aranzadi "Pichichi" (Spain)
The award for la Liga top-scorer is named after him.  He scored 240 goals in 170 matches for Athletic Bilbao. He won 4 Copa del Rey. In 1920, Pichichi was a member of the very first Spain national team that played at the Summer Olympic Games in Belgium. He earned five senior caps during one month, his debut coming on 28 August in a 1–0 win against Denmark.

ST: Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina)
Born in France of an Argentinian player Jorge Higuain, Gonzalo first starred for River Plate in Argentina.  He joined Real Madrid in 2006.  He became a fan's favourite after scoring the winning goal against Espanyol on his debut season.  He would stay with the club until 2013.  For the national team, he earned 52 caps.  He was brought into the national team after Argentina struggled to qualify for South Africa 2010.
Gonzalo Higuain
ST: Isidro Langara (Spain)
Langara was a star player with Real Oviedo before the start of the Spanish Civil War.  After the War, he became an exile playing for San Lorenzo in Argentina. He scored 110 goals in 121 games.  In 1940, he was the league's joint-top scorer. In 1943, he moved to play for Real Espana in Mexico.  He was the league's top scorer.  In 1946, he returned to Spain and played fro Real Oviedo again.

ST: Telmo Zarra (Spain)
Athletic Bilbao's greatest player.  Zarra signed for Athletic after playing one season for Erandio. He became a prolific goalscorer in his 15 seasons at the club, winning the Pichichi Trophy as the highest scorer in La Liga on six occasions. During his career, Zarra scored a total of 251 league goals, a Spanish record that lasted nearly six decades. His 81 goals in the Copa del Rey remains a record today .He was capped 20 times and scored 20 goals for Spain. He was a member of the 1950 World Cup team.
Telmo Zarra

Honorable Mention:
Ivan Campo, Aitor Karanka, Agustin Aranzabal , Jose Ramon Alexanko, Leonardo Cilaurren, Jose Mari Bakero, Estanisiao Argote, Luis Regueiro, Bata, Fernando Llorente, Dani, Urrutti, Juan Alonso, Ignacio Eizaguirre, Julen Guerrero, Jose Eulogio Garate, Julio Salinas, Cesar Azpilicueta. Asier del Horno, Javi Martínez, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Aritz Aduriz, René Petit (France), Asier Illarramendi, Ion Andoni Goikoetxea, Jose Eulogio Garate, Ander Herrera, Pablo Zanaleta (Argentina), Ezequiel Garay (Argentina), Rafael Alkorta (Spain), Francisco-Gamborena.

Squad Explanation
-- Andoni Zubizarreta, Telmo Zarra, Andoni Zubizarreta, Xabi Alonso and Jacinto Quincoces were automatic selections. I also decided to select players from Basque diaspora. Didiner Deschamps, Jose Nasazzi, Diego Forlan and Gonzalo Higuain were too good to be ignored.  They were of Basque descent.  Bixente Lizarazu actually played for Atletico Bilboa. I took different approaches toward different regional teams.
-- I should create an all-Basque team without the diaspora or another one with just the diaspora.  I am not sure if I could find goalkeepers for the diaspora team.
-- The team consisted two World Cup winning captains, Didiner Deschamps and Jose Nasazzi
-- I have yet to decide if I should follow Athletic Bilbao's policy of using non-Basque footballer born or trained in the country.  Iñaki Williams is born in the Basque Country of Ghanaian parents. He is eligible to play for  Athletic Bilbao.  He is a good player, but still a long way before I put serious thought on selecting him.  Jonás Ramalho and Yuri Berchiche are two of the more famous non-Basque ethnic footballer playing for the club.  
-- Antonine Griezmann came from the youth academy of Real Sociedad, which made him eligible for Athletic Bilboa.  So I had to think deep into the issue for his elibility. If the Basque national team is a FIFA-sanctioned national team, the Basque-born players would likely played for the Basque national team.  However, Griezmann was born in France of German and Portuguese background.  No one would ever know if he would ever be entitled to a Basque passport by just spending some time in the country. Athletic Bilboa's policy is not the citizenship law of an imaginary Basque nation.  So I assumed that he probably would be playing for France even if Basque was a FIFA-sanctioned national team,
-- Basque had strength in keepers. Juan Alonso, Urrutti and Ignacio Eizaguirre were great keepers, but could not make the cut. The three goalkeepers are probably among the greatest in Spain.  Andoni Zubizarreta and José Ángel Iribar did not need introduction.  Luis Arconada's blunder in the Final of Euro 1984 hurt his reputation, but he was one of the best goalkeepers in his time. 
-- Jose Nasazzi's mother came from Basque.  I did not learn of it until November, 2019. He should be on this team.  I am sure that I left off many players with maternal side of the family being of Basque background.  I replaced Rafael Alkorta (Spain) with him.
-- Juan Usatorre was a Soviet Union central defender of Basque origin. He was born in Moscow from a family of political exiles.  In his career, he played with Torpedo Moscow, Spartak Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow and Dinamo Minsk.  From 1962 to 1965, he starred in Minsk.  He was capped by the USSR 10 times.  His background was interesting.
-- Jose Nasazzi would probably be a centerback in the modern football, but he is often listed as a rightback. At the time of writing, José Orue is their fourth most appearance record for the club.  I rewarded him a spot.  The fact that he played for Atletic Bilboa helped his case.  Cesar Azpilicueta had done many things in his career, but Atletic Bilboa was very important for Basque nationalismPablo Zanaleta (Argentina) probably deserved a spot too.  
-- Because of Jose Nasazzi, I only took three other central defenders and a single rightback.  Jacinto Quincoces was one of the greatest defenders of the pre-war era.  Then, I selected  Jesús Garay was among the greatest ever from Spain. Andoni Goikoetxea earned his reputation through his toughness. Ivan Campo, Aitor Karanka, Rafael Alkorta, Jose Ramon Alexanko and Ezequiel Garay did not have as famous as the three other central defenders I have selected.
--  I selected Andoni Goikoetxea, not Jon Andoni Goikoetxea.  Andoni Goikoetxea was also known for his controversial rivalry with Diego Maradona.  He broke Maradona's ankle earning the nickname "Butcher of Bilboa".  Their rivalry led to a massive brawl between the two teams in the Final of the 1984 Copa Del Rey.  Jon Andoni Goikoetxea known as as Goiko could play in various position.   He was mainly an attacker. Andoni Goikoetxea was the centerback known for his rivalry with Diego Maradona. 
-- Bixente Lizarazu (France) took over the leftback position.  I left Asier del Horno off and and I selected Jose Maria Zarraga who was a key member of Real Madrid of the 1950's.  He could play as a left back. 
-- Gaizka Mendieta, Xabi Alonso and Didier Deschamps easily took three of the midfield spots.  Jose Maria Zarraga served as the captain of Alfredo Di Stefanio's Real Madrid team, and Ignacio Zoco was among the best ever midfielders in his time. 
-- Leonardo Cilaurren, Jose Mari Bakero and Javi Martinez deserved a spot, but the players ahead of them were too good.
-- Agustín Gaínza is one of Athletic Bilbao's greatest players.  He spent his entire career with Athletic Bilbao. Joseba Etxeberria was selected for his commitment to Athletic Bilbao, which is considered to be liked the real national team of Basque. 
-- Telmo Zarra is probably the best known striker from Basque.
-- The award for La Liga top-scorer was named after Rafael Moreno Aranzadi "Pichichi" (Spain).
-- Fernando Llorente deserved his chances with the team. He might be more famous than Joseba Etxeberria, but Etxeberria was chosen ahead of him because he played his entire career with the two Basque clubs.  He also played 50 times for Spain. The same reason applied to Jose Eulogio Garate.
-- Diego Forlan is listed as a Basque, but Diego's bloodline came from his mother's side. Pablo Forlan is not a Basque.
Starting lineup
Basque has a number of great strikers, but Diego Forlan proved himself at the World Cup Finals, the highest stage in football.