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Real Madrid vs Liverpool: 21st Century Modern XI

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A Champions League showdown that pitches two of the competition’s four most historic clubs against one another. Los Blancos have taken on the Reds on six occasions and five of them have come between 2009 & 2018.

Three seasons on from the famous 2018 Champions League finals, involving Bale’s jaw-dropping heroics, the Ramos-Salah clash and Karius’ faux-pas — the teams two face-off in the quarter-finals of the European for what promises to be two delicious legs of football.

It is an encounter that has seen a multitude of world-class players don the famous jerseys of both clubs.

Considering the frequency of the battles between the two in recent years, we take a look at the best and the most talented players to have represented both clubs in the 21st century.

FORMATIONS - Real Madrid (4-3-3) vs Liverpool (4-2-1-3)

GOALKEEPERS

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas

Iker Casillas

Keylor Navas may have been Real Madrid’s saviour in the sticks for the continental treble, including in the final against Liverpool recently, but it is no secret that Iker Casillas remains the club’s best ever goalkeeper. Having witnessed San Iker’s shot-stopping mastery between the posts for 15 years straight from 1999 to 2014, one can’t help but mention him as a true great of not only this era, but of all time.

Liverpool: Pepe Reina

Pepe Reina

Just like how Navas played a pivotal role in establishing a solid defense, Allison has done a similar job at Anfield since joining in 2018. However, Pepe Reina was largely underrated in the underperforming Liverpool team of the late 2000s. It will take Allison more consistency and games played to appear alongside Reina’s name. He is the Premier League’s greatest Spanish goalkeeper –- a title De Gea seems keen on conquering.

DEFENDERS

Real Madrid: Marcelo - Ramos - Varane - Carvajal

Marcelo, Ramos, Varane, Carvajal

Led by the irreplaceable captain himself, this back four was instrumental in the success of Madrid on both the domestic and continental level in the 2010s. Carvajal lines up alongside Marcelo in the full-back position, as does Ramos with Varane in the center-back pairing. The four have won a staggering combined individual record of 16 Champions League titles, playing all but one of the four Champions League wins in 2014, 2016, 2017 & 2018 when in 2016 Varane was ruled out due a hamstring injury.

Liverpool: Riise - Carragher - Van Dijk - Arnold

Riise, Carragher, Van Dijk, Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold & Virgil Van Dijk have been defensive revelations for Liverpool, playing a key role in the club’s title triumphs of the past few years. Norwegian legend John Arne Riise established a remarkable understanding with one-club man Jamie Carragher on the left flank, where the versatile Riise often played as a left-winger –- including in the sensational 2005 ChampIons League triumph over AC Milan.

MIDFIELDERS

Real Madrid: Zidane - Modric - Kroos

Zidane, Modric, Kroos

Zizou was all every footballer hoped to be: agile, adept and artful. He wooed fans with his elegant first touches, masterful vision and quick thinking. If elegance had another synonym, it would certainly be Zidane. The same could be said of the Modric and Kroos duo, who have both become one of football’s best ever in their positions, establishing an invaluable trio along with ball-winner Casemiro in midfield.

Liverpool: Alonso - Gerrard - Henderson

Alonso, Gerrard, Henderson

Xabi Alonso is a name that unquestionably had to appear in either one of the team lists. The master passer was a force to be reckoned with on the field, consistently putting in masterful performances on the biggest stages. Henderson on the other hand has been an instrumental part of Liverpool’s success in recent years, captaining the club to its sixth Champions League title and first Premier League trophy in thirty years. And it’s an incomplete Liverpool midfield without Steven Gerrard. That probably says enough.

FORWARDS

Real Madrid: Cristiano - Raul - Benzema

Cristiano Ronaldo revolutionized the process of goal-scoring during his nine year stint -– transforming from an enigmatic winger to an undecipherable center-forward who ended up becoming the club’s all-time goal scorer in just six years. He overtook Raul’s 323 goal record in just 308 caps.

Ronaldo, Raul, Benzema

However, Raul’s left foot garnered him the reputation as one of the greatest strikers of his generation, comparable to very few at his peak. Benzema on the other hand, has seen himself become one of the club’s best ever in the forward role – versatile, creative and prolific.

Liverpool: Salah-Suarez-Torres

Fernando Torres played the best football of his life between 2007 and 2011. The forward was an indispensable part of Liverpool and Spain, with whom he won the Euro 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He terrorized Premier League defenses for four years just like his successor Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan was an attacking force capable of turning matches on his own with his clever movement, perseverance and poaching ability.

Salah, Suarez, Torres

Mohammed Salah’s contributions since moving from Rome have been simply fantastic. He’s gone on to help the Reds capture both domestic and continental titles. The Egyptian’s tactical and technical intelligence combined with his versatility in the final-third has turned him into one of Europe’s best.

MANAGERS

Real Madrid: Zidane

His flair on the ball was unparalleled and the same could be said of his managerial record. Zidane’s tactical intelligence, attacking style of play and more importantly his presence in the dressing room as an experienced veteran, have all been important factors in his colossal dugout success story.

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane has gone on to achieve unprecedented success with two Supercopa de Espana titles, two La Ligas, two UEFA Super Cups, two FIFA Club World Cups and three successive UEFA Champions League titles.

The fact that makes his achievements even more remarkable is that it is the first and only senior team he has managed till date. He is probably the only person who could appear in the list both as a player and manager.

Liverpool: Klopp

Jurgen Klopp changed the face of Liverpool after his move from Borussia Dortmund. His winning philosophy turned Liverpool from a mid-table team to the best in England –- imparting a gratifying attacking style of play and changing the perception of the club among the masses.

Jurgen Klopp

The German tactician has gone on to win the club’s first league title in the Premier League era & the first in 30 years. Zidane’s Madrid upset Klopp’s Liverpool in Kiev by taking the European title to the Spanish capital.

However, Klopp came back stronger the next season, dismantling a helpless Barcelona with a historic four goal comeback and proceeding to win the Champions League. He only just pips out Rafael Benitez who lasted longer at the club.