Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Real Madrid All-Time Team for Foreign players

Luka Modric, Cristano Ronaldo and Pepe

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for Real Madrid's foreign players only.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.
Real Madrid
Real Madrid All-Time Team Under Florentina Perez
Real Madrid All-Time Team Under Miguel Munoz
Real Madrid Argentine Best XI
Real Madrid Castilla Greatest All-Time
Real Madrid All-Time Team for Spanish Players
Atletico Madrid All-Time Team for Foreign Players

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for Real Madrid.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.  

Real Madrid is the most successful club in soccer's history.  They have won more titles in Europe than any other clubs. Led by President Santiago Bernabeu, the club began to dominate European football during the 1950's.  They won five straight European Cup between 1956 and 1960.  The team that beat Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960 was widely considered to be greatest club in history.  At the time of writing, they won a record of 13 European Cups/Champions' league titles.  They won a record 6 European Cups, and after the European Champions League became the Champions' League, they won 7 more, also a record for the competition.

Di Stefano and Puskas
GK: Bodo Illgner (Germany)
Bodo Illgner played for Köln in Bundesliga between 1986 and 1996.  He joined Real Madrid in 1996, winning the Champions league in 1998. His starting position was succeeded by Iker Casillas. He was capped 54 times between 1987 and 1994.  He helped West Germany to the 1990 World Cup, where he became the first goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in a World Cup final. He also played in 1994 World Cups Finals and two other European Championship.
Bodo Illgner 
GK: Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
After starting out at Saprissa he moved to Albacete, and then to Levante in La Liga.  After a great performance With Levante, he won the La Liga Keeper of the Year award for 2014 with Levante.  Then, he led Costa Rica to the quarter-final of the WC in Brazil.  After the WC Finals, he earned a transfer to Real Madrid.  With Real Madrid, he won 3 Champions League titles as their starting keeper.

GK: Rogelio Dominguez (Argentina)
Rogelio Dominguez played around the same time as Carrizo.  He earned 59 caps.  He missed the 1958 World Cup Finals because he moved to Real Madrid in 1957, and Argentina did not select overseas players.  He was Argentina's 1962 World Cup team. With Real Madrid, he won two European Cups.  Before Real Madrid, he played for Racing Club in Argentina.

RB: Christian Panucci (Italy)
Christian Panucci's breakout season was the season 1993-1994, when he played 19 games for AC Milan and won the 1994 UEFA Champions' League.  The highlight of his career was perhaps his three seasons with Real Madrid.  He helped them to win the UEFA Champions' League in 1998.  His longest stint was, however, with AS Roma.  At the international level, he had 57 caps with Italy, but his career was very rocky.  He never secured a regular place with the team.

CB: Pepe (Portugal)
Born in Brazil, Pepe moved to Portugal playing for Maritimo.  In 2004, he moved to Porto while he established himself as one of the best defender in Portugal.  In 2007, he earned a dream move to Real Madrid.  At the time of writing, he won two Champions' league with them.  Although born in Brazil, he chose to represent Portugal.  At Euro 2016, he emerged as one of Portugal's best player as Portugal won their first ever international trophy.  He earned the Man of the Match in the Final against France.
CB: Fabio Cannavaro (Italy)
Fabio Cannavaro was capped 138 times between 1997 and 2010. He was the captain and perhaps, the best Italian player of the 2006 World Cup winning team.  He was named the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, and won the Ballon d'Or award in 2006 which made him the third defender to win the award. He started his career with Napoli and had spells with Parma, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.

CB/SW: Ulrich Stielike (Germany)
Ulrich Stielike is one of a small handful of players to have played in all 3 European club finals, the World Cup Final and the European Championship Final.  He was part of the Mönchengladbach team that won three Bundesliga titles, the UEFA Cup in 1975 and gained a runner-up medal in the European Cup in 1977.  He joined Real Madrid in 1977, where he won the UEFA Cup.  He was capped 42 times, winning Euro 1980.  He also played in the 1982 World Cup Finals.

CB: Jose Santamaria (Uruguay)
Jose Santamaria was a member of Real Madrid's all-conquering team of the late 1950's.  He spent his 18-year career with Nacional and Real Madrid, winning 17 major titles the two teams combined, Between 1957 and 1966, Santamaria won four European Cups with Real Madrid playing alongside Alfredo Di Stefano.  He was considered one of the best ever center-backs. He played for Uruguay at the 1954 World Cup Finals, but played for Spain 4 years later in Sweden.
Jose Santamaria 
LB: Roberto Carlos (Brazil)
Roberto Carlos was regarded one of the best leftbacks in history.  He had 125 caps for Brazil playing in three WC Finals. He won 3 Champions League titles with Real Madrid and one WC title with Brazil in 2002.  In 1997 he was runner-up in the World Player of the Year.  He is especially famous for a free kick from 35m out against France in the  Tournoi de France 1997. The goal is considered one of the greatest goals ever scored.

LB: Marcelo (Brazil)
Marcelo started his career with Fluminense before making a dream move to Real Madrid in 2007.  He spent several years in and out of the lineup before establishing himself as one of the star of the team.  With them, he won four Champions' League titles in from 2014 to 2018.  At the time of writing, he has over 50 caps for Brazil and played at the 2014 and 2018 World Cup in Brazil.

DM: Casemiro (Brazil)
Casemiro started with Sao Paulo, where he played for three seasons.  In 2013, he joined Real Madrid B team(Castilla), where he would be eventually called to the first team.  For the 2014-2015, he was sent to Porto on a loan.  After a year, he returned to Real Madrid and quickly established as a major contributor as the club won three straight Champions' League.  At the time of writing, he earned 32 caps.  He played in the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.
CM: Fernando Redondo (Argentina)
Fernando Redondo played his first game in the Primera División at only 16 for Argentinos Juniors, and remained five years with the team before moving abroad to CD Tenerife in Spain.  He joined Real Madrid in 1994, where he would become one of the best central midfielders in Real Madrid's history.  He won two Champions' League with them. For the national team, he only picked up 29 caps because he had issues with various managers.

CM: Paul Breitner (Germany)
Breitner was the first player to score a goal at two different WC Final match.  From 1971 to 1982, he had 48 caps for West Germany. He won the European Championship in 1972 and then, a the World Cup in 1974. During his club career, Breitner won seven National Championships with Bayern Munich (1972, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1981) and Real Madrid (1975, 1976), the Champions' Cup (1974) as well as the German (1971, 1982) and Spanish Cups (1975). 

CM: Gunther Netzer (Germany)
Netzer was the star of the great Borussia Mönchengladbach of the 1970's.  He won the European Championship in 1972 and then, the World Cup in 1974.  His best performance, however, was in 1972, where he was the star at the quarterfinal against England.  He later joined Real Madrid in 1973 and outperformed Johan Cruyff's Barcelona in the early 1970's in a period dominated by Real Madrid.
Gunther Netzer and Paul Breitner 

AM/RW: Raymond Kopa  (France)
Kopa was considered to be "Les Bleus"'s greatest player before the emerge of Michel Platini. In 1970, he became the first football player to receive the Légion d'honneur. He helped France to finish third at the WC Finals in 1958. He won the the European Footballer of the Year in 1958 and won three European Cups with Real Madrid in the 1950's.  He also played with Stade de Reims before joining the legendary Real Madrid team of the 1950's. He won the 1953 Latin Cup with Reims.

AM: Zinedine Zidane (France)
He was named the best European footballer of the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll, and has been described as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.  He won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times.  He led France to victory at  the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.  With Real Madrid, he also won the Champions League in 2002, where he scored one of the greatest goals in history at the Final. 

AM/CM: Luka Modric (Croatia)
Modric is one of the greatest playmakers of his generation. He earned more 90 caps for Croatia.  He currently plays for Real Madrid and won the Champions' League for the 2013-2014,  2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons.  He also played with Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspurs.  He played in the World Cup Finals of 2006 and 2014, as well as the European Championship of 2008, 2012 and 2016.

CM/AM/FW:  Alfredo Di Stefano (Argentina)
The best player in the world before the emerge of Pele and Maradona. He was one of the younger member of the great River Plate in the 1940's.  In 1949, he moved to play in Colombia before moving to Europe in 1953.  He won 5 straight European Cups with Real Madrid. He was credited in turning Real Madrid into a legendary club. His international career was limited to the fact that Argentina did not select overseas players.  He played for Argentina, Colombia and Spain.
Alfredo Di Stefano 
RW: Luis Figo (Portugal)
Figo is one of Portugal's greatest players.  He was the 2000 European Footballer of the Year, the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year., He is one of the few football players to have played for both Spanish rival clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid. His controversial 2000 transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid set a world record fee of €62 million.  With Real Madrid, he was the first member of the Galacticos. He won the Champions' League title in 2002.
Luis Figo 
RW/LW:  Gareth Bale (Wales)
Bale began his professional career at Southampton. Bale moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007. In 2011 and 2013, he was named PFA Players' Player of the Year.  His transfer to Real Madrid in 2013 was believed to be the most expensive in history.  He won three Champions League title with Real Madrid.  He scored the winning goal in the 2014 version. In 2016, he led Wales to reach the semifinal of Euro 2016. 

FW/LW: Cristano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Ronaldo is one of the greatest forward of his generation.  He is the most expensive players in history from 2009-2013 when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid.  At the time of writing, he won the Ballon d'Or winner three times and won Champions' League titles with both Manchester United and Real Madrid.  In 2016, he helped Portugal to win the European Championship, a month after winning the Champions' League with Real Madrid.
Cristano Ronaldo
ST: Karim Benzema (France)

Benzema was billed as one of the best young players in Europe when he played for Lyon.  In 2009, he made a dream move to Real Madrid on the same summer that Kaka and Cristano Ronaldo joined the club.  He won the Champions' League in 2014, where he formed the BBC line with Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.  For the national team, he played in the 2014 WC Finals.

ST: Ronaldo (Brazil)
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. 

ST/FW: Ferenc Puskas  (Hungary)
He was one of the greatest footballers in history.  He scored 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary. He became Olympic champion in 1952 and led his nation to the final of the 1954 World Cup where he was named the tournament's best player.  He played with Honved at home and went to Real Madrid after the Soviet invasion.  With Alfredo Di Stefano, Raymond Kapo, etc, Real Madrid became the greatest club team in history.

ST: Hugo Sanchez (Mexico)
Hugo Sanchez was considered to be the best Mexican player of all-time. He is remembered for his career in Spain where he played for both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.  He won 5 straight Pichichi title in Spain.  With Real Madrid, he won five consecutive league titles (from 1985-86 to 1989-90), the Copa del Rey in 1989, and the UEFA Cup in 1986.  The team was the dominant team in Spain during the 1980's.
Hugo Sanchez 

Honorable Mention
Michael Laudrup, Ivan Zamorano, Claude Makelele, James Rodríguez, Davor Šuker, Laurie Cunningham, David Beckham, René Petit, Karim Benzema, Raphaël Varane, Bernd Schuster, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben, Ricardo Carvalho, Predrag Mijatovi, Jorge Valdano, Angel Di Maria, Toni Kroos, Clarence Seedorf.

Squad Explanation
-- Alfredo Di Steafno and Cristano Ronaldo are two greatest ever players for the club.  They are the first two players selected for this team. Hugo Sanchez, Zinedine Zidane, Ferenc Puskas, Raymond Kopa, Luka Modric, Fernando Redondo and Roberto Carlos are close to being automatic selections.
-- Apart from the three keepers selected, Real Madrid did not have many foreign goalkeepers. Jerzy Dudek who was a popular backup. He was the only other foreign goalkeeper.  At the time of writing, Thibaut Courtois just arrived.
-- Christian Panucci is the only candidate for the rightback position.  Cicinho had an injury-plagued career here.  He is not considered.
-- The last centerback is difficult to select.  Both Ricardo Carvalho and Fabio Cannavaro only spent short time here, but I cannot think of another foreign center back. Raphaël Varane has been backing up Pepe and Sergio Ramos.  He probably would be on this team one day, but he still needs time. In the end, I took Cannavaro only because he was the most famous player.  Carvalho's numbers here are very close. Oscar Ruggeri spent a single season with Real Madrid, but I did not seriously consider him.
-- Paul Breitner and Gunter Netzer appeared in many all-time list for Real Madrid.  Toni Kroos might have suppressed them in Madrid. 
-- Ronaldo (Brazil) is a controversial selection.  Many attackers might have done more than him for the club.  However, Ronaldo won the Pichichi award and he is still one of the greatest ever players in the game. His first two seasons in Madrid was also amazing.
-- Gareth Bale is also a controversial selection. His career here has been injury-plagued, but he was the hero for two Champions' League Finals.  He has scored more goals than Predrag Mijatovi. Ivan Zamorano, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Davor Suker had short careers with Real Madrid, and they did not have a "Gareth Bale" moment with the club.
-- Chu Alonso played for Spain and never played for Cuba, making him not a foreign player under FIFA rules. Hector Rial also did not play for Argentina and was capped by Spain.  Does it make him a domestic player? Rial would have made the team as Alfredo Di Stefano's loyal teammate as well as to the club. There is something very nostalgic about Rial and Real Madrid. 
-- The last two position were a midfielder and a forward.
-- For forward, I had Michael Laudrup, Predrag Mijatovi, Ivan Zamorano, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Gonzalo Higuain. Liked Ronaldo(Brazil), Laudrup is simply one of the greatest ever players, but he only had a single good reason here.  His teammate Ivan Zamorano played longer and contributed more. Mijatovi scored the historical goal in the 1998 Champions' League, but his overall stats is much less than Zamorano and Higuain. Higuain had the more goals than everyone else I just mentioned, but he did not win enough titles here.  Oh well, Ivan Zamorano also did not win. 
-- In December, 2019, I did a review of the team.  Since Cristano Romaldo's departure, Karim Benzema has carried the team.  He has played for the club since 2008, which made him a long serving player.  He deserved a place on the team.  So he replaced Higuain on the team.
-- Claude Makelele has been mentioned, but he only played three seasons here.  Casemiro already suppressed that and he also won three Champions' League as a key player. Toni Kroos is one of the best midfielders of his generation.  He has better international reputation than Casemiro at the time of writing.
-- In the end, I took Casemiro because the team needed a defensive presene.  The player also won 4 Champions League in his first 4 seasons(he was loan for the season when Real Madrid did not win).  At the time of writing, he won it every season when he was a part of the team.

Modric has surpassed Raymond Kopa at Real Madrid, but Kopa played on the right side while at the club. He might have outdone Zidane at Real Madrid.  He contributed to 4 Champions League titles while Zidane only won once. Di Stefano is so versatile that he moved to the right side so that I can field Zidane.  All three keepers could easily start.  

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