Catalonia played to a 1-1 draw with Nigeria on Wednesday in Johann Cruyff's final match as head coach of the Spanish region's "national" team. The home of Barcelona, Catalonia has produced droves of superstar footballers in the last decade. And with the autonomous community now seeking official status as a country separated from Spain, it is possible that in a few years both Spain and Catalonia will compete to qualify for a major international tournament.
The talent from Catalonia is indeed very impressive, and Barcelona especially have done well to nurture the majority of it in their famous academy. But there are other footballing regions in the world that are similarly outstanding in their grooming of talent. In Germany, the states of Bavaria and especially North Rhine-Westphalia are hotbeds for most talent that has emerged from the Bundesliga in recent years. There, talents are found not at one mega-club, but scattered among many Germany academies.
And while the North Rhine-Westphalia will never have its own national team (there is regional pride, but no interest from locals to break away from Germany), the comparison of quality to come from the Ruhrpott and surrounding areas to that of Catalonia reveals that both regions have contributed tremendously to world football.
Click "begin slideshow" to begin a position-by-position rundown of a combined Catalan and NRW team. Please note that only players born in Catalonia and the North Rhine-Westphalia are considered.