Picking a Combined Real Madrid-Barcelona XI

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2014

Picking a Combined Real Madrid-Barcelona XI

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    Who makes our combined XI?
    Who makes our combined XI?Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    When Real Madrid and Barcelona clash at the Bernabeu on Sunday night we will be witnessing 22 of the best players in the world going at it hammer and tongs.

    But imagine if you could whittle away the merely "excellent" players and just focus on the elite.

    Ahead of the Clasico we pick a combined line-up of Barcelona and Real Madrid players, which would be fit to take on any side in the world.

Diego Lopez Between the Sticks

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    Diego Lopez shades the keeper battle.
    Diego Lopez shades the keeper battle.Gabriel Pecot/Associated Press

    This is a three-way battle, between Barcelona's Victor Valdes and Real Madrid duo Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez.

    It's tough to call as all three can stake a claim to be this team's goalkeeper.

    But Valdes has not been at his very best this term, perhaps with one eye on a move away from Barcelona in the summer when his contract expires.

    Casillas has been Madrid's cup keeper and Lopez has taken prime position for the league spots, so we're going to give it to him.

Dani Alves Is Our Right-Back

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    Alves provides pace and aggression down the right.
    Alves provides pace and aggression down the right.Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

    The Brazilian defender is no longer the right-wing tyrant (in a footballing sense) he once was, but he still attacks with abandon.

    Perhaps his crossing isn't what it should be either, but there's not many full-backs better than this guy knocking around.

    Real Madrid have Alvaro Arbeloa out injured and youngster Dani Carvajal isn't in Alves' class.

Pepe and Sergio Ramos Partnership Maintained

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    Pepe and Sergio Ramos patrol the box.
    Pepe and Sergio Ramos patrol the box.Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

    This is one area where Madrid win hands-down.

    Pepe and Sergio Ramos may not be aesthetically enjoyable, with the former noted for a string of brutal incidents like this one, and the latter a magnet for red cards, but they are strong.

    Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique aren't quite good enough at the highest level.

    If Barcelona are going to go deep in the Champions League they may have to ride their luck at the back.

    Madrid's front line will be looking to test them on Sunday night.

Jordi Alba Earns His Spot at Left-Back

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    Jordi Alba will get forward down the left.
    Jordi Alba will get forward down the left.Getty Images/Getty Images

    This is a toss-up between Marcelo and Jordi Alba, but the Barcelona man shades it.

    Both are extremely strong going forward, but the Spaniard is a little better when it comes to actually defending.

    Which, being a defender, is quite important. Especially up against Gareth Bale.

Busquets and Modric Provide the Perfect Midfield Base for Messi

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    Messi (left) is playing in the hole.
    Messi (left) is playing in the hole.Getty Images/Getty Images

    There's nothing this pair are missing.

    Sergio Busquets is Barcelona's defensive shield and one of the best in the world right now.

    He is always alert to danger, has excellent positional sense and can snuff out attacks before they even begin.

    Luka Modric, meanwhile, is in the form of his life at Madrid.

    He's good when deployed deep and helps build attacks like a potter, carefully crafting his clay.

    And at the top of the midfield lies Lionel Messi.

    Playing behind the striker (guess who?), the Barcelona forward can pull the strings for his side and drift to his heart's content.

Gareth Bale and Andres Iniesta Are the Wide Boys

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    Andres Iniesta has still got it.
    Andres Iniesta has still got it.Getty Images/Getty Images

    Andres Iniesta starts on the left, but he is free to swap position with Messi.

    While his partner Xavi is slowly losing his legs, if not his grace and poise, Iniesta is still one of the game's top players.

    In recent weeks he has been the finest Barcelona player, perhaps other than Messi.

    Gareth Bale is deployed on the right, where he is for Real Madrid.

    After a slow, injury-hit start to life in Spain, he has started to show his class.

    The Tottenham man needs to make a real impact in a big game and Sunday is his chance.

Cristiano Ronaldo Leads the Line

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    We're not sure about this hat, but Ronaldo is our striker.
    We're not sure about this hat, but Ronaldo is our striker.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Up front is the world's best player right now, Cristiano Ronaldo.

    He has an excellent seven goals in his last five games in La Liga and the Champions League.

    Messi could lay claim to taking this spot in the team, but Ronaldo has been better for the past few months.

    The Argentina forward's versatility also counts against him—Messi can play anywhere in the attacking half.

     

    Manager: Carlo Ancelotti

    Bench: Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique, Xabi Alonso, Angel Di Maria, Neymar, Karim Benzema, Marcelo.