Friday, August 31, 2018

Arsenal French Best XI

French Connection
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
Arsenal All-Time Team Under Arsene Wenger
Arsenal All-Time Team for English Players
Arsenal All-Time Team for Foreign Players

Arsène Wenger joined Arsenal in 1996 and spent 22 years at the club.  During his reign, be brought many French players to the club.  This my selection of the best XI of French players who played with Arsenal FC.  There are approximately 31 French players ever to have played for Arsenal at the time of writing.  This blog was intended for all French players ever to have played for Arsenal.  However, no French player ever played for Arsenal before Wenger.

GK: Guillaume Warmuz
Guillaume Warmuz started with Marseilles in France, but gt his opportunities with Louhans-Cuiseaux FC in 1990.  From 1992 to 2002, he had a relatively successful career with FC Lens.  In 2003, he spent 6 months with Arsenal without playing a single game.  He joined Borussia Dortmund when Jen Lehmann went the other way. He later played for Monaco. 
Guillaume Warmz
RB: Bacary Sagna 
Barcary Sagna his career at Auxerre, before transferring to Arsenal for £7 million in 2007. In 2014, shortly after winning the FA Cup, his first trophy at the club, he made a move to Manchester City. From 2014 to 2017, Sagna played for Manchester City.  He played for France at World Cup Finals in 2010 and 2014, and the European Championship in 2016.
Bacary Sagna 
CB: Laurent Koscielny  
Laurent Koscielny started his career in the lower division in France before moving to Lorient in 2009.  He moved to Arsenal in 2010.  Less than a season later, he was called up to the French national team.  He had also considered playing for Poland.  He played 51 times for France.  He played in the World Cup Finals for 2010 and 2014, but he did not play in the European Championship of 2016.
Laurent Koscielny  
CB: William Gallas
Before joining Chelsea in 2001, William Gallas played for Coen and Marseille in France. In 2006, he moved to Arsenal in a deal that saw Ashley Cole going the other way. In 2010, he moved to Tottenham Hotspurs and became the first player to appear for the three London clubs. Between 2002 and 2010, he earned 84 caps.  he played in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup Finals as well as Euro 2004 and 2008.
William Gallas
LB: Gael Clichy
From 2002 to 2003, Gael Clichy played for Cannes at home. Then, he played for Arsenal from 2003 to 2011. From 2011 to 2017, he played for Manchester City. Clichy earned 22 caps from 2008 and 2014.  He went to two major tournaments: the World Cup Finals in 2010 and the European Championship in 2012.  He played the last match at the World Cup Finals in 2010 after a strike by some of the senior players.
Gael Clichy
CM: Emmanuel Petit
Petit began his career at minor club ES Arques-la-Bataille before being signed by Arsène Wenger's Monaco side at the age of 18.  From 1997 to 2000, he again played for Wenger with Arsenal, establishing the French Connection at the club.  For France, he was a part of the Golden Generation that won the World Cup in 1998, followed by winning the European Championship in 2000. He scored one of the goals in the World Cup Final against Brazil in 1998.
Emmanuel Petit
CM: Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira was an all-time great with Arsenal.  He won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.  In England. he was famous for his rivalry with Roy Keane.  He spent a season at Juventus, helping the team to the Serie A championship. Following Juventus' relegation , Vieira played for Inter Milan and then, Manchester City for two seasons. With "Les Bleus", he won the WC in 1998 and European Championship in 2000.  He earned 107 caps.
Patrick Vieira 
SS/LW/RW: Sylvain Wiltord 
Wiltord started with Rennes and Bordeaux before moving to Arsenal, winning two Premier League titles and two FA Cups. He also won the Ligue 1 title in each of his 3 subsequent seasons at Lyon.  For France, he was capped 92 times, scoring 26 goals. He scored in the last seconds of the Euro 2000 final that brought the game to extra-time. France then won the final from a golden goal. He is the most capped French player who was not on the 1998 World Cup team.
Sylvain Wiltord 
LW: Robert Pires
Pirès earned 79 caps between 1996 and 2004,  winning both the 1998 World Cup and  Euro 2000.  He started his career with Metz and then, joined Mariselle.  He became famous while playing for Arsène Wenger's Arsenal.  He was the FWA Player of the Year for the 2001–02 season. In 2008, Arsenal fans voted Pirès as the club's sixth greatest player of all time. He later played for Villarreal and Aston Villa.
Robert Pires
FW:  Theirry Henry 
Theirry Henry is the all-time leading scorer for both Arsenal and France.  He was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, and the FWA Footballer of the Year three times. He spent 8 seasons with Arsenal. He also played for Monaco, Barcelona and NY Red Bulls. He earned over 120 caps, winning the 1998 World Cup played at the home and the following European Championship in  2000.
Theirry Henry 
ST: Olivier Giroud 
Giroud began his career at Grenoble in Ligue 2 before joining Tours in 2008. Gird joined Arsenal in 2012.  He won the FA Cup with Arsenal in 2014, 2015 and 2017, and totalled 105 goals in 253 games for the club. In January 2018, he transferred to Chelsea on an 18-month contract.  Since 2011, he has played over 70 times for France.  He played at the 2018 World Cup Finals, where France won their second title.
Olivier Giroud 
Honorable Mention
Samir Nasri, Mathieu Flamini, Abou Diaby, Francis Coquelin, Nicolas Anelka, Alexandre Lacazette.

Squad Explanation
-- This blog was not meant to be for players under Arsene Wenger.  It was intended for all French players ever to have played for Arsenal.  At the time of writing, 31 French players have played for Arsenal's senior side.  Only two of them were signed after the departure of Arsène Wenger.  In effect, this is a team with players under Wenger only.
-- Arsene Wenger's tenure with Arsenal was known for its "French Connection".  
-- I did a blog team for  Arsenal All-Time Team Under Arsene Wenger.  Four French players (Laurent Koscielny, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira) are selected on that team.  
-- Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry are on my Arsenal all-time team.
-- Arsenal has so many French players that every French national team from 1996 to 2018 in a major tournament consisted of at least a single French player.
-- According Transmarkt, France has the largest nationality group in Arsenal after England.  More French players have played for Arsenal than Scots(30 Scots played for Arsenal), but the number is wrong.  I noticed Alex James is not listed among the Scots. So there must be players missing from their data.
-- According to various records, Guillaume Warmz never played a single game for Arsenal, but he is the only French goalkeeper ever on the book of the club.
-- Nicolas Anelka played for Arsenal from 1997 to 1999.   In all, he made 90 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 28 goals altogether for the club.  He secured a big move to Real Madrid from here, but his career here was too short. Olivier Giroud played here much longer, despite his reputation was not as good as Anelka's career over here. He had been here for 6 seasons. So I took Giroud over Anelka.
-- Remi Garde and Patrick Vieria were the first ever French player to sign for Arsenal.  They arrived before Wenger became the manager.  
-- Samir Nasri was the other big name not selected.  I took World Cup winner Emmanuel Petit over him.
-- Arsene Wenger had a successful career with AS Monaco between 1987 and 1994. Emmanuel Petit also played for Wenger with AS Monaco.  He is the only player who played for both clubs under Wenger.  Thierry Henry did not play for him in the senior side of Monaco.  He came from their youth academy under Wenger's guidance.  Henry joined Wenger's Arsenal in 1999.
-- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was Arsene Wenger's last purchase before Wenger left the club in 2018.  He was born in  France, but represented Gabon internationally. Technically, he is ineligible.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Barcelona Dutch Best XI

Johan Cruyff and Johan Neesken

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

Dutch-German Rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Catalonia All-Time Team
Barcelona All-Time Team
Barcelona All-Time Team for Spanish Players
AC Milan All-Time Team Under Silvio Berlusconi
AC Milan Brazilian Best XI
AC Milan Foreign Players All-Time Team
AS Roma All-Time Team for Italian Players
AS Roma All-Time Team for Foreign Players
AC Milan All-Time Greatest Team for Italian players
Inter Milan All-Time Greatest Players for Italian players
Inter Milan All-Time Team for Foreign Players
Juventus All-Time Team for Foreign Players
Juventus All-Time Team for Italian Players

Ever since Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens joined Ajax in the early 1970's, a large number of Dutch players had played for Barcelona.  Ronald Koeman scored the winning goal in the 1992 European Cup Final under manager Johan Cruyff. Later, Louis Van Gaal brought a large contingent of Dutch players between 1997 to 2000 when he was the manager.

GK: Ruud Hesp 
Ruud Hesp first got his opportunity with Fortuna Sittard fro 1987 and 1994. He then playd for Roda from 1994 to 1997.  However, it was at Barcelona, where he enjoyed the best part of his career. He was their surprise starter over Victor Baia while playing Louis Van Gaal.  He travelled with the Dutch national team to Euro 1996 and the World Cup 1998, but he never earned a single cap for Holland.
Ruud Hesp
RB: Michael Reiziger 

Michael Reiziger was a member of the Golden Generation from Ajax that won Champions League in 1995.  After a brief stint with AC Milan, he moved to Barcelona in 1997.  In 2004, Reiziger moved to Middlesbrough on a Bosman transfer. He was capped 70 times for Netherlands, representing the nation in three European Championships and the 1998 World Cup Finals.
Michael Reiziger

CB/LB: Frank De Boer 
At one point, Frank De Boer was Netherlands most capped player. He was a part of Ajax's Champions' League winning team in 1995.  He was an important player in the late 1990's. He captained the Oranje to the semi-finals of both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000.  He also played with Barcelona for 6 years. His twin brother Ronald also played with him for Oranje.
Frank De Boer

CB:  Ronald Koeman 
Ronald Koeman was the rock solid sweeper of Netherlands' Euro1988 team.  He was capped 78 times. He also won two European Cups, one each for PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona FC.  He scored the winning goal for Barcelona's victory in 1992. The Cup was Barcelona FC's first ever European Cup.  In Netherlands  he played for all of the "big three" clubs, namely Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord.
Ronald Koeman

LB/DM:  Giovanni Van Bronckhorst 
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst played for Netherlands in three World Cups, in 1998, 2006 and 2010, as well as three European Championships, in 2000, 2004 and 2008.  He was the captain of Netherlands at World Cup 2010, where Holland finished second.  He played 106 times for Holland.  He also played with Feyenoord, Barcelona Arsenal and Rangers. 
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst
CM: Edgar Davids
Nicknamed "the Pitbull", Edgar Davids was one of the greatest defensive midfielders in the world.  He won the European Champions' League with Ajax in 1995.  He was capped 74 times. He was an important player at the World Cup Finals in 1998 when Netherlands reached the semi-final. At the club level, he also spent 7 seasons with Juventus at the height of his career.  He also played for Tottenham Hotspurs, Barcelona, AC Milan, etc.
Edgar Davids

CM: Johan Neeskens
Johan Neeskens was considered to be one of the greatest Dutch midfielders. He had 49 caps for Netherlands.  Her led Netherlands to two second place finishes at the World Cup Finals in 1974 and 1978.  He was Holland's top scorer at the 1974 World Cup Finals.  He also won three straight European Cups with Ajax: 1971, 1972, 1973. He also played with Barcelona FC and New York Cosmos.
Johan Neesken

CM: Phillip Cocu 
Cocu played for AZ and Vitesse Arnhem before joining PSV Eindhoven. He played for FC Barcelona between 1998 and 2004. During Cocu’s second stint at PSV, he won another three Eredivisie titles and reached the Champions League semi-finals. With 101 caps, Cocu is fifth on the list of most Dutch international appearances.  He also played at the 1998 and 2006 World Cup, as well as the 1996, 2000 and 2004 European Championships.
Phillip Cocu

LW/RW: Marc Overmars 
Known for his speed, Overmars was a member of the youthful Ajax team that won the European cup in 1995. He moved to Arsenal in 1997, where he starred playing under Arsene Wenger.  He won the Double in 1997-1998.  He later moved to Barcelona and Go Ahead Eagles. His career with Oranja lasted from 1993 to 2004, and was an important player.  He won the Best Young Player Award at USA 1994.
Marc Overmars
FW: Johan Cruyff 
Johan Cruyff won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973 and 1974.  He was considered one of the best players in history.  He was noted for his brilliant performance at the World Cup in 1974 and winning three straight European Cups with Ajax.  He moved to Barcelona in 1973 for a world record transfer fees. 
Johan Cruyff

ST: Patrick Kluivert 
The teenage star of the great Ajax team of 1995.  He was also a star with Barcelona.  He joined Milan in 1997, but he quickly left for Barcelona a season later.  He had a relatively successes at the club, but left for Newcastle United in 2004.  His career was never the same due to injuries.  He was an important part of the national team from 1996 to 2004.  However, his career was shortened due to various issues.

Patrick Kluivert

Honorable Mention
Jasper Cillessen, Bowdejwin Zenden, Mark Van Bommel, Richard Witschge, Ronald De Boer, Jordi Cruyff, Ibrahim Afellay, Winston Bogarde, Frenkie De Jong.

Squad Explanation 
-- I always believed that Barcelona has a strong connection to the Netherlands. According to Transfermarkt, there are 20 Dutchmen who had played for the club.  Barcelona has 20 Brazilians and 19 Frenchmen.  So statistically the numbers are not overwhelmingly great.  I put all 20 of them on honorable mention. 
-- I selected three Dutch players on my Barcelona All-Time team.  They are Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and Ronald Koeman. 
-- Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens were the first two Dutchmen ever to join the club. They arrived in 1974.  Twenty-one years later, Ronald Koeman joined the club as the third Dutch player in their history. 
-- Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff, Frank Rijkaard and Lous Van Gaal have coached the club.    
-- Under Johan Cruyff's management, Barcelona was known as the "Dream Team".  Ronald Koeman, Richard Witschge and Jordi Cruyff were the only Dutchmen who played during that era.  Ronald Koeman scored the winning goal against Sampdoria at the 1992 European Cup Final.  
-- Jordi Cruyff played under his father.  He did well enough to earn to be on the Dutch national team.  He went to the 1996 European Championship.   
-- Most of the other Dutch players played under manager Louis Van Gaal.  Frank and Ronald de Boer, Patrick Kluivert, Phillip Cocu, Boudewijn Zenden, Marc Overmars, Ruud Hesp, etc all played under him.   
-- Jasper Cillessen might have better international reputation than Ruud Hesp. He was the starting goalkeeper for Netherlands during the World Cup Finals in 2014 while Hesp never played for Netherlands.  For Barcelona, Hesp played much more games than him.  He eventually replaced Vitor Baia in goal at Barcelona. 
 -- Frank De Boer spent 5 seasons with Barcelona, but his twin brother Ronald only stayed 18 months. 
-- Edgar Davids only played half of a season in 2004 while on loan, but he was credited of turning Barcelona into a force in the mid-2000's.  His inclusion to the team turned the season around. Mark Van Bommel is the other alternative, but he only played half a season more than Davids. 
-- Mark Van Bommel also had to complete against  Phillip Cocu and Johan Neeskens for a spot. Neeskens needed no introduction.  Phillip Cocu is the all-time appearance record holder for Dutch player over here. 
-- Frenkie de Jong is the latest arrival to Barcelona.  
-- Patrick Kluivert played 6 seasons here.  He scored over 120 goals for the club.   
-- I wrote a blog about Dutch-German Rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona.  Around the same time when Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens played for Barcelona, Paul Breitner and Gunter Netzer played for Real Madrid.  Meanwhile, the national teams of West Germany and Netherlands played against each other in the Final of the 1974 World Cup Finals.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

AC Milan Brazilian Best XI

Serginho, Dida, Kaka and Cafu

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
AC Milan All-Time Team Under Silvio Berlusconi
AC Milan
Real Madrid Argentine Best XI
AC Milan Brazilian Best XI
AC Milan Foreign Players All-Time Team
AS Roma All-Time Team for Italian Players
AS Roma All-Time Team for Foreign Players
AC Milan All-Time Greatest Team for Italian players
Inter Milan All-Time Greatest Players for Italian players
Inter Milan All-Time Team for Foreign Players
Juventus All-Time Team for Foreign Players
Juventus All-Time Team for Italian Players

This is my selection of AC Milan's Brazilian Best XI.

GK: Dida 
Dida was remembered for his 8 seasons with AC Milan, Dida was the hero of the 2003 Champions' League Final when he helped Milan to win the penalty shootout against Juventus.  He became the first Brazilian goalkeeper to be nominated for Ballon d' Or that year.  He went to three World Cup Finals.  He was the starting keeper in 2006 World Cup Finals for the Seleção.  
RB: Cafu 
Cafu is the all-time cap record holder for Brazil with 142.  He is the only man to play in three World Cup Finals, winning in 1994 and 2002.  He was the captain of the national team as they won the World Cup in 2002.  With Brazil, he also took part in four editions of the Copa América, winning the title twice, in 1997 and 1999. He played with Sao Paulo, Roma and AC Milan. He was South American Player of the Year in 1994.  
CB: Roque Junior
Roque Júnior played for  São José, Palmeiras, A.C. Milan, Leeds United F.C., A.C. Siena, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, MSV Duisburg and Qatari side Al-Rayyan.  With Palmeiras, he won the Copa Libertadores in 1999.  He also won the Champions' League in 2003 with AC Milan.  He played 99 times for Brazil, winning the World Cup in 2002. 
Roque Junior
CB: Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva became the most expensive defender in history when he moved from Milan to Paris St. Germain.  In Brazil, he played for Juventude and Fluminense, helping Fluminense to the Final of Copa Libertadores in 2008.  For the national team, he was the captain of Brazil ill-fated team in World Cup 2014, but did not play against Germany in the semifinal. He was an unused sub at the WC Finals in 2010.
Thiago Silva
LB: Serginho
Serginho played with Cruzeiro, Flamengo, Bahai and Sao Paulo in Brazil before heading to Europe in 1999. From 1999 to 2008. he played for AC Milan, winning two Champions' League in 2003 and 2007, and a Serie A title in 2004. For the national team, he only playd 10 times between 1998 and 2001, largely limited by playing at the same time as Roberto Carlos.
DM/CM: Emerson
For nearly a decade, Emerson was a key player for Brazil, playing 73 times.  He was due to captain the 2002 side, but an injury right before the World Cup Finals kept him out of the tournament.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1998 and 2006. He played for Gremio, Bayer Leverkusen, Roma, Juventus, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Santos.
CM: Leonardo
Throughout his club career, he played for Flamengo, São Paulo, Kashima Antlers, Valencia, PSG and Milan.  He won Copa Libertadores and International Cup with Sao Paulo.  At Milan, he became an international star during the 1990's.   He was capped 55 times.  He went to USA 1994, but was suspended after elbowing Tab Ramos in the quarterfinal against the USA.  He also played in France 1998.
AM/LM: Ronaldinho 
Ronaldinho was a member of tyhe "Three R's" with Rivaldo and Ronaldo that helped Brazil winning the World Cup in 2002.  He had 97 caps. He started his career with Gemio before moving to Europe. He played with Paris St Germaine, Barcelona and AC Milan before returning to Brazil in 2011. He formed the REM line with Etoo and Messi with Barcelona before fighting among them destroyed the team.
AM/CM: Kaka 
Kaka started his career with Sao Paulo in Brazil before moving to AC Milan in 2003.  He was the star player who helped Milan to win the Champions' League in 2007 and he himself won he Ballon d'or the same year.  In 2009, he left Milan for Real Madrid.  For Brazil, he was capped 92 times.  He was a young and seldom used player at the World Cup in 2002.  He was a key player after the WC Finals in 2002.
ST: Jose Altafini "Mazzola"
He started his career with Palmeiras before joining AC Milan right after the WC Finals in 1958.  From 1958 to 1976, he scored 216 goals in Serie A making him the joint-fourth highest scorer in Serie A history.  He won the European Cup in 1963, scoring 14 goals, which was finally broken by Cristano Ronaldo in 2014. He made played for Brazil, using the name "Mazzola". In 1962, he played for Italy at the World Cup Finals.  He earned 6 caps for Italy scoring 5 goals.   
Jose Altafini (L) with Amarildo
ST: Ronaldo
Ronaldo was widely considered among the greatest ever to have play the game.  He led Brazil to two World Cup Finals match, winning the one in 2002.  He scored 8 goals in 2002.  He was the winner of Ballon d'Or twice and the FIFA World Player of the Year three times.  He is the second top-scorer in WC history.  He played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, and for both AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Other Brazilian Players who played for them  
Alexandra Pato, Amarildo, Rivaldo, Robinho, Andre Cruz, Ricardo Oliveira, Vicente Arnoni.

Squad Explanation
-- This is a fun post.  AC Milan had many Brazilians and I just wanted to create a quick blog team.  I simply put 11 Brazilians on  a team. This should NOT be taken seriously.
-- Kaka, Cafu and Jose Altafini are on my AC Milan All-Time team.
-- According to, 35 Brazilians played for AC Milan.  They are the largest group for foreign players here.  Argentina is second with 24 players and France with 15.
-- Elisio Gabardo and Vicente Arnoni were their first ever Brazilians, but I am not sure about its accuracy.
-- Vicente Arnoni joined AC Milan in 1935 from Palmeiras, which was known as Palestra Italia at the time.  Palestra Italia was founded by Italian Brazilians who wanted the club to be a representative of the Italian community. In 1942 during World War II, the government of President Getúlio Vargas made a decree banning any organization from using names related to the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan). The club became Palmeiras.
-- Jose Altafini also came from Palmeiras. He came from a working-class family of Italian origin in Sao Paulo. He was the first foreign star player for AC Milan.  In Brazil, he was also known as "Mazzola" because he resembled the Italian legend Valentino Mazzola.  Valentino Mazzola's son Sandro was playing with Inter Milan when Jose Altafini was playing with AC Milan.
-- In 1990, Giovane Élber joined AC Milan, but not many people remembered that.  He was only 18 years old without any experience in Europe.  He was sent on loan to Switzerland.
-- Not many foreign goalkeepers ever played for AC Milan. Dida is the only foreign goalkeeper who became a long-time starting goalkeeper.
-- I once asked Serginho for an autograph and he gave it to me.
-- Emerson also did not play much with AC Milan, but this is only a fun blog team. Besides, there are no over serious candidates for his position.
-- Ronaldo and Ronaldinho did not play in their prime for AC Milan, but they still edged out Rivaldo and Robinho.
-- Amarildo who played for AC Milan between 1963 and 1967 should be starting instead of Ronaldo.  I took Ronaldo for fun, I admitted.
-- Ronaldo played for both Inter Milan and A.C. Milan in the Derby della Madonnina, and is one of two players to have scored for both rival teams in the Milan derby game (for Inter in the 1998–99 season and for A.C. Milan in the 2006–07 season).  This had nothing to do with his selection.
-- Ronaldinho did not take his career here seriously.  "The decline of Ronaldinho hasn't surprised me. His physical condition has always been very precarious. His talent though has never been in question, " Carlos Ancelotti who was Ronaldinho's coach over here  in his first season said this about him.  He was a much better player in his second season under Leonardo.
-- Not many people would remember that Mancini (Brazil) who starred for AS Roma also played with AC Milan.  He played as a loan player from Inter Milan, which must be rare.
-- Rivaldo joined AC Milan in 2002 after he won the World Cup with Brazil.  He never settled down with the club.  Later, he did serve as a mentor to Kaka who joined in 2003.
-- Márcio Amoroso also spent a short time here.

I use a classic 4-2-2-2 formation popularized by the Brazilian national team of the 1970's and 1980's.