Friday, May 31, 2019

Ronaldo and Messi playing together for Australia

Ronaldo and Messi as teammates?
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
Sweden World Cup1950Argentina World Cup 1958Scotland World Cup 1970
United Kingdom World Cup 1970England World Cup 1974
United Kingdom World Cup1982Yugoslavia World Cup 1994
Germany World Cup 2002France World Cup 1994
Holland World Cup 2002USA World Cup 2010
Eusebio's alternative path, Brazil with Careca in 1982
Ireland/Northern Ireland Combined Team 1986 World Cup
Yugoslavia World Cup 2018

Of all the "what if" teams I have created, this team is the most unrealistic.  I am stretching this blog team to the very limit and created a team that would be the ultimate fantasy team of many soccer fans around the world.  

Imagine Cristiano Roanldo and Lionel Messi playing on the same national team. And it could have happened.

Cristiano Ronaldo's grandparents moved to Perth when he was 5 years old. His mother decided to stay behind in Portugal while her parents and siblings left for the Down Under.  Meanwhile, it was reported Messi's parents also studied the idea of moving to Australia, but did not go through with plan. If fate had it, both Ronaldo and Messi could be playing for Socceroos around the same time.  

Please read my source here about Ronaldo and here about Messi.

Why do I decide to create a blog for Australia 2006 team? Ronaldo and Messi were better players in the World Cup Finals of  2010, 2014 and 2018, but there are more things to think about in 2006. Because it was also Australia's Golden generation in their prime. Furthermore, Christian Vieri who grew up in Australia was still an active player. 

Australia World Cup 2006

The 2006 World Cup Finals was Australia's first World Cup Finals since 1970's.  The 2006 team was probably the greatest ever Australian team.  Mark Viduka, Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell, etc were widely considered among the greatest ever Australian players in history.  Meanwhile, Croatia also included three Australian-born players namely Joey DidulicaJosip Šimunić and Anthony Šerić on their World Cup team.  Georgios Samaras (Greece)'s father was also born in Australia, making him eligible for an Australian passport.  Please do not forget that Christian Vieri was eligible to play for Australia. In 2006, he was struggling with an injury and the loss of form.  

I do not believe Ronaldo and/or Messi would be the same players if they grew up in Australia. Without the same soccer culture from Portugal and Argentina, their development might have gone through a different path. They might not be Ballon d'or level player. However, they still have the same DNA to become extremely good footballers. Christian Vieri who spent his childhood in Australia turned out very good.  So Australia do have the capacity to produce world class footballers.  Ronaldo and Messi should at least become on the same level as Vieri.

In the actual World Cup Finals, Australia narrowly lost to eventual winner Italy in the second round by a controversial penalty on the 93rd minute.  So it is entirely possible that Australia could have beaten Italy with Lionel Messi and Cristano Ronaldo.  The next opponent in the quarterfinal would be Ukraine, a team that Australia would be capable to beat.  So reaching the semifinal was very possible.
 The controversial penalty against Italy

Players added: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Christian Vieri, Joey Didulica, Josip Šimunić and Anthony Šerić.

Players Dropped from the real 2006 team: Archie Thompson, Ante Covic, Joshua Kennedy, Stan Lazarisdis, Mark Milligan and Michael Beauchamp.

GK: Mark Schwarzer (Middlesbrough/Australia)
Mark Schwarzer played in Germany, but he did not find success until he moved to England in 1997.  He started over 500 games in the Enghish Premiership.  He was known for his seasons at Middlesbrough and Fulham.  With 109 caps, he is the cap record holder in Australia. He played in two World Cup Finals: 2006 and 2010. He was in the World Cup Qualifying playoff against Uruguay in 2005, where he saved two penalties.
Mark Schwarzer
GK Zeljko Kalac (AC Milan/Australia)
Kalac made his name with Sydney United.  He moved to Europe in 1995.  He played in England, holland and Italy.  He was the backup keeper for AC Milan as they won the Champions' League in 2006-2007. He spent most of his career between Bosnich and Schwarzer, but still earned 54 caps for Socceroos.  He played against Croata at the World Cup Finals in 2006.

GK:  Joey Didulica (Austria Wien/Croatia)
Didulica started to play football in the North Geelong Warriors. In 1996, he moved to the Melbourne Knights, a club whose team primarily consists of Australian Croats. In 1999, he transferred to Ajax Amsterdam before eventually moving to Austria Vienna in 2003. He also played for AZ Alkmaar.  In 2004, he decided to play for the country of his parents.  He was capped 4 times for Croatia. He went to Euro 2004 and World Cup Finals in 2006.

RM/RB: Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers/Australia)
Brett Emerton is the third most capped player for Socceroos.  He went to two World Cup Finals.  He was captain of the "Olyroos", Australia's Olympic football team, at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.  He spent his career notably with Sydney Olympic, Sydney FC, Feyenoord and Blackbrun Rovers.  He spent 9 seasons with Blackburn Rovers.  He was Oceania Player of the Year in 2002.

RB: Luke Wilkshire (Bristol City/Australia)
Wilkshire made his professional debut for English club Middlesbrough. In 2003, he moved to Bristol City before moving to Twente in 2006. Wilkshire next played in Russia for Dynamo Moscow, but later moved back to the Netherlands to play for Feyenoord in 2014. He played eighty times for the Australia. This includes matches at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

CB/RB: Lucas Neill (Blackburn Rovers/Australia)
Lucas Neill earned 96 caps during Australia's Golden Generation and 61 of them as the team captain.   He played 15 seasons in England.  He represented Australia at the 2006 World Cup, the 2007 Asian Cup, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and also the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar.  He was probably remembered for the controversial penalty he gave away vs Italy at the round of 16 duirng the Germany 2006.
Lucas Neill
CB: Craig Moore (Newcastle United/Australia)
Moore played over 250 games for Rangers in Scotland. After Rangers, he played with Borussia Mönchengladbach, Newcastle United and his hometown club Queensland Roar (later renamed Brisbane Roa in the Australian A-League, as their captain and Marquee player.  In 2012, he was voted into the Australia's All-time Best XI.  He went to both 2006 and 2010 World Cup Finals.

CB: Tony Popovic (Crystal Palace/Australia)
Starting in 1989 at Sydney United he went on to play for Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan and Premier League side Crystal Palace, among other clubs. He appeared with the Socceroos at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he played against reigning World Champions Brazil. He had 58 caps in total.

CB: Josip Šimunić (Hertha Berlin/Croatia)
Born in Australia to Bosnian Croat parents, Šimunić started his career at Melbourne Knights. He spent 14 seasons in the Bundesliga with Hamburger SV, Hertha BSC and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim before finishing his career in Croatia with Dinamo Zagreb. He played for Croatia from 2001 to 2013, appeared in five major tournaments.  He is the third most capped player in the history of the Croatia national team. In Germany 2006 against Australia, he was best remembered for receiving three yellow cards.
Josip Šimunić 

LB: Anthony Šerić (Panathinaikos/Croatia) 
Born in Australia of Croatian background, he began his professional football career with Hajduk Split.  He played in Italy with Parma, Verona, Adaílton, Lazio and Brescia.  He also played with Panathinaikos, Beşiktaş, Karabükspor and S.C. Olhanense. He was a part of the team that finished 3rd at the 1998 World Cup in France. He earned 16 caps and also went to 2002 and 2006 World Cup Finals.

LM/CB/LB: Scott Chipperfield (Basel/Australia)
Chipperfield began his professional career at Wollongong Wolves in 1996 and was a vital member of the team that won the National Soccer League twice in a row, in 2000 and 2001, and the Oceania Club Championship in 2001. In 2001, he joined Swiss Super League club FC Basel. He was an important member of the team as Basel reached the Second Group Stage of the 2002–03 UEFA Champions League. From 1998 to 2010, he played 68 times forAustralia.

DM: Vince Grella  (Parma/Australia)
Grella began his senior career in Australia before moving to Italy, where he spent over ten years, playing for Empoli, Ternana, Parma and Torino. He moved to Blackburn Rovers of the Premier League in 2008 where he spent four seasons, before returning to Australia in 2012 to play for Melbourne Heart. For Australia, he had 46 caps.  He attended two World Cup Finals.  

CM: Josip Skoko (Wigan/Australia)
Josip Skoko played for North Geelong Warriors, Hajduk Split, Genk, Gençlerbirliği, Wigan Athletic, Stoke City and Melbourne Heart. At Genk he was made captain and helped the team win the title in 2001–02.  Skoko was a member of the Australian National football team for ten years, from 1997 to 2007.  He was a member of the 2006 World Cup team.

CM/RM/RB: Jason Culina (PSV Einhoven/Australia)
Culina started his career with Sydney United under his father, Branko Culina, before moving to Ajax, but only after moving to Twente did Culina begin to shine at the top level in club football. He moved to PSV in 2005. In 2009, he was signed by Gold Coast United, becoming the club's first marquee player. He also played briefly with A-League club Sydney FC. Capped 58 times.  He was a starter in the 2006 World Cup Finals. 

AM/CM/LW: Marco Bresciano (Parma/Australia)
Bresciano played for Bulleen Lions and Carlton before he moved to Italian side Empoli in 1999, beginning a twelve-year stay in the country. He played for Parma, Palermo and S.S. Lazio. He made 84 appearances and scoring 13 goals with Socceroos. He played in three World Cups, two AFC Asian Cups (one victorious) and the 2004 OFC Nations Cup winning team. 

AM: Tim Cahill (Everton/Australia)
Cahill is the all-time leading scorer for Socceroos and was considered one of greatest Australian players ever.  He played for Millwall, Everton, the New York Red Bulls, Shanghai Shenhua, and Hangzhou Greentown. At Everton, he was one of their star players for 8 seasons.  He represented Samoa at youth level.  Later, he switched to Australia in 2004.  He went to three WC Finals.  He led Australia in winning the Asian Cup in 2015.
Tim Cahill

LW:  Harry Kewell (Liverpool/Australia)
In 2012, he was voted the greatest ever Australian player.  At Leeds United, he won the PFA Young Player of the year in 1999-2000.  With Mark Viduka, the team reached the semifinal of the Champions' League in 2000-2001.  At liverpool, he won the Champions League in 2005, where he started the final match.  He became the first Australian-born player to win a Champions' League medal.
Harry Kewell
RW/FW:  Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)
Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. At age 13, he relocated to Spain to join Barcelona. At time of writing, he won 4 World Player of the Year and 5 Ballon d'Or.  For Argentina, he has played over 130 times.  At the time of writing, he has not won an international trophy for the national team, but reached three Finals in his career.
Lionel Messi
RW: Mile Sterjovski (Basel/Australia)
In Australia, Sterjovski played for Wollongong Wolves, Wollongong United, Sydney United and Parramatta Power.  In 2000, he moved Europe, playing for Lille, Basel, Hacettepe and Derby. In the A-League, he played for Perth Glory and Central Coast Mariners, separated by a period playing for Dalian Aerbin. From 2000 to 2010, he played 43 times for Australia, including 3 games at the 2006 World Cup.

FW/LW: Cristano Ronaldo (Manchester United/Portugal)
Cristano 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 five 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. At the time of writing, he joined Juventus.
Cristiano Ronaldo
ST: John Aloisi (Alaves/Australia)
Alosis was the first Australian ever to play and score in La Liga, the Premier League and Serie A.  He also played in Belgium.  Some of the clubs he played for included U.S. Cremonese, Portsmouth, Coventry, Osasuna, Alves, Sydney United, etc.  From 1997 to 2008, he played 55 times for Australia.  His penalty kick against Uruguay which took the Socceroos to the 2006 World Cup was voted by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as one of three greatest moments in Australian sporting history

ST: Mark Viduka (Middlesbrough/Australia)
Viduka started with Croatian-based club Melbourne Knights FC.  He went to Europe in 1995, where he was probably the most famous Australian playing in Europe.  He played in Croatia, Scotland and England.  In Scotland, he was the top scoring in the Scottish league and won the SPFA Player of the Season with Celtics. And then, he joined Leeds United, where the club reached the semifinal of the Champions' League.  He also played for Middlesbrough and Newcastle United.

ST: Christian Vieri (Monaco/Italy)
Christian Vieri was born in Italy, but grew up in Australia.  At the club level, he played for 12 clubs in his career.  He played in Italy, Spain and France. He was the Serie A Footballer of the Year in 1999. He became the most expensive player in the world when Inter Milan signed him from Lazio.  For the national team, he made his debut in 1997 and played in his last game in 2006.  He won the Silver in France 1998.  He missed out on the 2006 World Cup team, where Italy won the World Cup.
Christian Vieri 

Team Explanation 
-- Both Ronaldo and Messi played their first World Cup Finals in 2006.  The real Messi was 18 years old making his name in his first season in the senior side of Barcelona while the 21 years old Ronaldo was an emerging star in the Premiership with Manchester United. They would become better players in 2010, 2014 and 2018.
-- Mark Schwarzer, Mark Viduka, Lucs Neil, Zeljko Kalac, Craig Moore, Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton are on my Australia's All-Time team.
-- The skill level of a player is sometimes affected by the training and the upbringing.  They probably would not be Latino type of players if they grew up in Australia.
-- Australia is great at many sports.  It is entirely possible that the pair play in a different sport.  Cristiano Ronaldo has the speed, height and size to play rugby or Australian rules football.  Meanwhile, Messi might not have the height to play the two sports, but he had the speed to be a top rugby 7 player.  He is as tall as Waisale Serevi, the greatest rugby 7 player ever. With a different type of weight training for rugby, both Messi and Ronaldo could bulk up to take another sport in Australia.  So I won't be surprised that both players would not be playing soccer at all.
-- Because of the presence of three Australian-born Croats (Joey Didulica, Josip Šimunić and Anthony Šerić) playing for Croatia in the 2006 World Cup Finals, I could have created a blog fantasy team for Australia 2006 with or without Ronaldo and Messi. The blog would be similar to the one I did with USA World Cup 2010. However, Josip Šimunić would be the only Croatian player who would have a key role on the Australian national team.  The blog team would not be much different from the actual 2006 team. So I did not create an alternative 2006 team for Australia until I found out about Ronaldo and Messi. 
-- At the time of writing, I did not have enough material to create blog teams for Eusebio's alternative path, but I created an alternative team for Brazil with Careca in 1982.
-- Christian Vieri's form dropped during the 2004-2005 season.  He was sold to AC Milan in the summer of  2005, but he quickly moved to Monaco in January of 2006 so that he could make Italy's World Cup team.  However, he suffered an injury in March, 2006 which ruled him out of the World Cup Finals.  While Marcelo Lippi publicly said that he would have considered to have Vieiri at the Finals, I doubted that he would make the team with or without his injury.  His last cap for Italy was in October, 2005 against Malta. However, Australia might be a different story.  Would manager Guus Hiddink take him if he was not injured? 
-- By 2006, Vieri had played more than 15 seasons in Serie A.  If he was cap-tied to Australia, he would have been the most  experienced player for the Socceroos.  He would be a valuable asset. Besides, the addition of Christian Vieri would make this blog team more interesting.  I also took an injured Denis Law to my United Kingdom World Cup 1970 team so I could put Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law in a World Cup Finals. I have already stretched the limit far enough by making Messi and Ronaldo Australian.  So why not? 
-- Both Mark Milligan and Joshua Kennedy were new players in 2006.  They were 20 years old.  Realistically, I would have taken Kennedy over Vieri, but this is not a real team.  He was left off the team for Vieri.
-- John Aloisi, Mark Viduka and Christian Vieri were similar type of strikers. I knew for a tactical point of view that I should look into other types of strikers.  
-- Goalkeeper Joey Didulica edged out Ante Covic, but it was not a clear decision.  
-- In 2006, Josip Šimunić was at the peak of his career playing for Hertha Berlin.  He was a regular starter for Croatia.
-- Stan Lazarisdis was 33 in 2006.  So I took Anthony Šerić (Croatia) who was 27 years old.    
-- Luka Modric and Mark Viduka are cousins.  In 1991, Modrić became a refugee because of the war in the former Yugoslavia. However, there was no indication of him going to Australia.  I also do not know how distant their relationship were between Viduka and Modric.  Were they first cousin or beyond? So he was not considered for this team. Modric, Ronaldo and Messi would have been awesome for the next three World Cup Finals.
--  Georgios Samaras (Greece)'s father was born in Australia, making his eligibility for Australia possible. Samaras was playing for SC Heerenveen the season before the World Cup Finals and he was on his way to play for Manchester City.  He was a well-known prospect in Europe, but Australia already has Messi and Kewell in 2006 on the left.  He was unlikely to be selected. So I did not take him.
-- Australian-born Avraam Papadopoulos was playing as a forward in the Greek league before he was converted to be a defender.  In 2006, he would not make it to the World Cup team.  From 2008 to 2014, he was capped 37 times for Greece.

Both Kewell and Christian Vieri sat on the bench.  In 2006, Kewell was a veteran, but he gave his way to Ronaldo who was an emerging star in Premiership.  Kewell might still be a better option in 2006, but this blog was an imaginary team that meant to put Ronaldo and Messi on the same team in a World Cup Finals.  Kewell gave his way to my "fantasy".  Some fans probably preferred to start Vieri to complete this ultimate fantasy.

The 3-5-2 formation allowed Kewell who was voted as the greatest Australian player ever to start along side Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo might want to play as a wing-forward, but he did play that position for Portugal during Euro 2016.  In 2006, Ronaldo was still the "showboat".  He had not developed his scoring prowess.

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