David Silva, Sergio Ramos and the "Best of the Rest" in Spain: A Starting XI

Michael CernaCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2012

David Silva, Sergio Ramos and the "Best of the Rest" in Spain: A Starting XI

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    How much Spanish talent is there beyond Real Madrid and Barcelona?

    After completing the fourth and final part of this "Spanish Regional Starting XI" series, you will have a better answer.

    We have seen the best that Catalunya, Castile & Madrid and Basque Country have to offer.

    Now take a look at the best players who hail from Valencia, Andalusia and Spain's other regions.

    What follows is the Starting XI for the "rest" of Spain.

Keeper: Diego Lopez, Age: 30 (Villarreal)

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    Quite possibly the best keeper in La Liga this season.

    Diego Lopez is hampered by playing for a small-market club in Villarreal.

    If he played for Barcelona or Real Madrid, I have no doubt that he would be more widely considered a top keeper and would have much more respect from fans.

    He actually spent two years at Real behind Iker Casillas, but being second-best to Casillas is nothing to be ashamed of.

    With Villarreal having zero ambition over the last two years and possibly holding a fire-sale this summer, Lopez would be an incredible buy for anyone in need of a top-class keeper.

    Honorable Mention: Pepe Reina, Age:29 (Liverpool)

RCB: Sergio Ramos, Age: 25 (Real Madrid)

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    Ramos is one of few players in the world in discussion for being the best at two  positions.

    With a reputation for being too hot-headed, Ramos is known for his aggression—on and off the run of play—as well as his attacking prowess.

    More respected for his ability as a fullback, Ramos has proven to be more than capable playing in the middle as well, even before this season.

    Honorable Mention: Sergio Ballesteros, Age: 36 (Levante)

CB: Carlos Marchena, Age: 32 (Villarreal)

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    No stranger to controversy himself, Marchena's inclusion with Ramos already makes this the most short-tempered defense of the four sides.

    Slightly past his prime, the Andalusian was a major part of Valencia's success last decade.

    He came in just after the club's consecutive Champions League final appearances and led the defense to two La Liga titles.

    He left for Villarreal in 2010 and helped lead them to Champions League qualification.

    Honorable Mention: Raúl Albiol, Age 26 (Real Madrid)

LCB: Jose Enrique, Age: 26 (Liverpool)

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    After leading Newcastle back to the Premier League in 2010, he was voted the player of the season by club's fans.

    He then left the club for Liverpool last summer, along with Andy Carroll.

    At Merseyside, he helped Liverpool to their first trophy in six years when they won the Carling Cup.

    Known for his great pace and athleticism, Enrique is one of the few footballers to have played for three Valencian clubs.

    Honorable Mention: José Ángel, Age: 22 (Roma)

Defensive Midfielder: Javi García, Age: 25 (Benfica)

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    One of the hottest commodities in all of Europe, this summer will surely see Garcia's name in a fair few papers.

    Once deemed excess at Real Madrid, he was signed by Benfica in 2009.

    Since then he has gone on to become one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe.

    This season, Garcia has helped lead the Lisbon-based club to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

    Recently linked with Manchester United and Arsenal, it looks like both English sides will have to look elsewhere.

    Just last week, Garcia signed a new, seven-year deal with Benfica. Great news for the Portuguese club.

    Honorable Mention: Bruno, Age: 27 (Villarreal)

Central Midfielder: Jesus Navas, Age: 26 (Sevilla)

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    La Joya is one of the best midfielders in Europe.

    Navas was brought in to replace Jose Reyes when the latter left for Arsenal, but few could have predicted that the youngster would go on to be better than La Perla.

    His impact was so immediate that Jose Mourinho tried to bring him to Chelsea in his second full season.

    One of the most consistent performers in Spain, Navas has never played for another club due to a curious case of homesickness and anxiety.

    It was that sickness that delayed his entry to the national team.

    Many will wonder what could have been, but the star is still only 26 years old.

    His performance in the World Cup showed that he is now healthy and can perform at his usual, elite level outside of Spain.

    Honorable Mention: Isco, Age: 19 (Málaga)

Central Midfielder: David Silva, Age: 26 (Manchester City)

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    One of Spain's top midfielders during his time with Valencia, Silva is now considered arguably the best midfielder in England.

    He was part of the exodus of Valencia's best players who started in 2010.

    Silva did not want to leave his boyhood club but was forced out due to the club's debt issues.

    Silva formed one of the most exciting midfield duos in Europe when he partnered with Juan Mata, and La Liga fans still miss seeing him in Spain every weekend.

    Honorable Mention: Sergio Canales, Age: 21 (Valencia)

Left Winger: Santi Cazorla, Age: 27 (Málaga)

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    Capable of playing on either wing, Cazorla is one of the most dangerous players in Spain.

    He has great speed, flashy dribbling ability and solid finishing.

    He once famously stated that it is possible to say no to Real Madrid when they courted him in 2009.

    Cazorla was a major reason for Villarreal's success in the latter half of the decade, leading them to a second-place finish in 2008.

    Now he is part of Malaga's new project since being bought from the Andalusian side last summer.

    If Malaga can bring in a top striker or two, Cazorla can create one of the most deadly attacks in the league.

    Honorable Mention: José Antonio Reyes, Age: 28 (Sevilla)

Right Winger: Pedro, Age: 24 (Barcelona)

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    Pedro is perhaps even more ambidextrous and versatile than Cazorla.

    He may be having a disappointing season so far, largely due to injuries, but few expect that to last much longer. He has looked increasingly better during each match over the last month.

    In the 2009-10 season, Pedro became the first player in history to score in six club competitions in a single season.

    He may be in danger of losing his first-team spot due to the great run of Barcelona's youth products this season, most notably Christian Tello, but Pedro will still be one of La Blaugrana's most important attacking threats once he regains form.

    Honorable Mention: Pedro León, Age: 25 (Getafe)

Center Forward: Joaquín, Age: 30 (Málaga)

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    Another of Malaga's big summer buys, the former Valencia man has been a big part of their late surge this season.

    He missed a month of play this winter after injuring himself in a charity event but has come back in top form.

    It was his free kick that found Rondon for the winner in their match against Levante. That was the goal that replaced the Valencian side in the final Champions League qualification spot.

    As great as he has been this season, the speedy forward will be 31 next season, so he may need some extra depth on the squad to spell him next season—especially if Malaga make the Champions League.

    Honorable Mention: Manu del Moral, Age: 28 (Sevilla)

Striker: Roberto Soldado, Age: 26 (Valencia)

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    Barcelona fans may have a problem with this pick, but Soldado would hold this spot even if David Villa were healthy.

    The former Real Madrid youth player has carried Valencia's attack all season.

    We saw just how dependent the club is on him when he was absent for the second leg of their Copa del Rey match against Barcelona. One cannot help but wonder what kind of difference he would have made.

    With 22 goals in all competitions so far, he is only three away from his career-best of 25.

    If Valencia are going to keep their third-place spot, Soldado will be the one responsible.

    Honorable Mention: David Villa, Age: 30 (Barcelona)

Coach: José Antonion Camacho, Age: 56 (China Natinal Team)

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    Camacho is now entering his 20th year as a football manager and has built a solid résumé.

    He managed Spain for two World Cups in 1998 and 2002, the first time losing out to eventual winners France.

    He resigned his position after a very controversial loss to co-hosts South Korea in 2002. They had been one of the favorites to (finally) lift the trophy.

    At the club level, Camacho is most recognized for his time at Benfica, where he matched Jose Mourinho's Porto before a disappointing second spell three years after he left the side.

Formation: 3-3-3-1

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    Also a modified version of Cruyff's 3-4-3.

    This formation allows the two wingers to spread play while having Joaquin act as a link between the midfield and Soldado. Also leaves Javi very deep on the pitch.

                      Diego Lopez

       Ramos--Marchena--Luis Enrique

                      Javi Garcia

         Navas                    David Silva


         Pedro                      Cazorla


Head to Head

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    There you have it. The final of four Spanish regional squads.

    Which is the best?

    Which would win in round-robin tournament?

    Basque Country?


    Castile & Madrid?

    Or the best of the rest?


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    That completes our Spanish Regional Starting XI series!

    After looking at all four teams, we realize that Spain is loaded with talent outside of Real Madrid and Barcelona, especially in midfield.

    I hope you enjoyed this series! I definitely enjoyed writing it.

    Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below.