World Football

World Football's Most Polarising XI

Dan ColasimoneContributor IApril 12, 2014

World Football's Most Polarising XI

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    Michel Euler

    They are the players everyone talks about. They are adored by some and despised by many others.

    These divisive footballers manage to ruffle feathers among rival fans, yet many of those fans would secretly love to have them on their side. 

    Here we select an 11 made up of the most polarising players around.

    The manager of the side will be, of course, Jose Mourinho; perhaps the most polarising single figure in the sport.

The Substitutes Bench

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    Luca Bruno

    For whatever reason, many of the more controversial figures in football seem to be attacking players. 

    With only three forward positions up for grabs in our 4-3-3, the bench is made up of mostly strikers, many of whom were unlucky to miss out on a starting post.

    The substitutes bench is as follows: Mario Balotelli, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sergio Ramos, Diego Costa, Arjen Robben, Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole.

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart

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    Alastair Grant

    Since David Seaman was in his pomp, the position of England goalkeeper has been something of a poisoned chalice. 

    At numerous international tournaments, the latest bright young goalkeeping prospect has been shown up to be less-than world class. 

    When Joe Hart emerged, it appeared England had finally found a solid No. 1 to take up the role long term.

    A dramatic dip in form last season saw the Manchester City player's reputation take a huge battering, however.

    Though he has returned to something like his best, debate continues as to whether he is the right man for the job. Much will be learned about Hart's credentials in Brazil this year.

Right-Back: Dani Alves

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    Manu Fernandez

    Undoubtedly a brilliant footballer, Dani Alves has been a key component in Barcelona's success over the past few seasons.

    His surging runs forward down the right flank and intelligent combination play with the men around him have marked him out as one of the game's premier full-backs.

    The Brazilian has never been the greatest defender going around, however, and he also has a way of getting under the skin of opposition fans.

    A penchant for gamesmanship and play acting is what riles people most when it comes to Alves, who doesn't seem to care too much what others think of him.

Centre-Back: John Terry

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    Christophe Ena

    Respected for his no-nonsense approach to defending and strong leadership abilities, John Terry is also despised in many quarters for his prickly persona and off-field antics.

    From celebrating Chelsea's Champions League win in full kit despite being banned from the final, to having an affair with a team-mate's estranged girlfriend, the former England captain is adept at making the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Centre-Back: Pepe

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    Holding down a starting spot at the centre of Real Madrid's defence over a number of years indicates a certain level of class, yet Pepe still manages to have his moments of pure childishness to tarnish his reputation.

    Niggling behaviour, violent fouls and hilarious tantrums all appear in the Pepe repertoire, but there are certain games where he appears to be unflappable and un-passable. 

Left-Back: Patrice Evra

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    Matthias Schrader

    Attitude problems have taken some of the gloss off the career of a top-shelf player.

    Patrice Evra has been a solid left-back for both Manchester United and France for a number of years, but he was at the centre of a player uprising at the 2010 World Cup, which ended in disaster for Les Bleus.

    Three years on and he was still causing a stir, labeling France legend Bixente Lizarazu and other television pundits "tramps" in response to criticism. 

Midfield: Sergio Busquets

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    Itv Sport

    To some, he is among the finest midfielders of his generation; a passing machine who keeps the Barcelona clockwork ticking. 

    To others, he's an over-rated con artist who will do anything to earn his side an advantage, even if it involves stretching the rules of the game.

    Sergio Busquets is without doubt an extremely gifted footballer, who may be appreciated more by coaches and team-mates than casual fans.

    He does push the limits of fair play quite often, though, which explains much of the ill feeling towards him.

Midfield: Nigel de Jong

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    He's a stoic defensive midfielder, who has performed admirably for Ajax, Hamburger SV, Manchester City, Milan and the Netherlands, but Nigel de Jong might end up being best remembered for a single incident in the World Cup final of 2010.

    The hard man's brutal kung fu-style assault on Spain's Xabi Alonso in the tournament decider came to represent the Dutch team's approach to that entire World Cup, with de Jong becoming the talisman of their uncompromising, gritty form of football. 

Midfield: Juan Roman Riquelme

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    Eduardo Di Baia

    The sometimes petulant, often magnificent Juan Roman Riquelme has divided opinions throughout his whole career.

    One of the last of a dying breed of playmaker, Riquelme requires a very specific tactical setup around him in order to control a match in his elegant, considered style.

    Some of his managers have embraced the No. 10 as the centre-piece of their team, while others have struggled to fit him in.

    The Boca Juniors star's prickly personality has ensured he has been involved in plenty of off-field feuds over the years as well.

Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Fox Soccer

    That Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the two best players on the planet is not in question. By the time he retires, he may have claims to be regarded as an all-time great.

    But the Portuguese peacock has always had trouble earning the universal adoration of the wider footballing public.

    He may have matured with age and be less prone to some of the more juvenile antics that were commonplace early in his career, but the Real Madrid forward still comes across as petulant and arrogant on certain occasions.

Forward: Carlos Tevez

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Juventus forward Carlos Tevez is something of a mystery.

    His level of commitment on the pitch is second-to-none, earning him the devotion of supporters. But his loyalty is not so apparent off the field, where he has been at the centre of countless disputes and questionable moves.

    Aside from the time he earned the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson and the red half of Manchester with a transfer across town from United to City, the highest profile debacle of Tevez's career was when he fought with his manager, Roberto Mancini, before taking leave in Argentina without permission, much to the chagrin of his club.

Forward: Luis Suarez

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Even for those who despise him, it must be difficult not to acknowledge Luis Suarez's remarkable talent.

    The Uruguayan has arguably enjoyed his best ever season in domestic football for Liverpool, despite starting the campaign late due to suspension.

    A trickster with the ball at his feet, some feel that he too often tries to trick referees as well. 

    Nevertheless, he is one of the finest attacking forces in the game at present, and he could be set to have a huge impact at the approaching World Cup.

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