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Picking a Combined Barcelona-Real Madrid XI for the New Season

Tre' AtkinsonChief Writer IIINovember 30, 2016

Picking a Combined Barcelona-Real Madrid XI for the New Season

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Barcelona and Real Madrid. The two biggest names in Spanish football. Every year the El Clasico sides boast insanely talented squads and are heavy favorites for every title they will challenge for.

    This year, both clubs have made several big moves to improve their squads as they chase silverware. With the plethora of talent at Barcelona and Real Madrid, it is interesting to wonder what a combined team would actually look like.

    In this article we will discuss what a combined Barcelona and Real Madrid starting lineup would look like.

    There are only 11 spots in the lineup, so many world-class players will be left out. For simplicity, we will be using a 4-3-3 formation, which both clubs used heavily last season.

    As always, get involved in the discussion in the comments section below and tell us how you would field a combined team.

     

Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Claudio Bravo and Keylor Navas are the new kids on the block at Barcelona and Real Madrid. The arrival of the three new keepers, along with Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez, makes selecting a starter for the combined team a challenge.

    Despite having several keepers in the running for this lineup, new Real Madrid man Keylor Navas gets the nod.

    Navas was the best keeper in Spain last season and the highest-rated keeper in the league according to WhoScored.com. The former Levante star went on to turn heads at the World Cup in Brazil, and it wasn’t long before Real Madrid came calling.

    The 27-year-old has great reflexes and makes unbelievable saves every time he steps on the pitch. It will be interesting to see how he fits in at the Santiago Bernabeu, but it is clear he wasn’t brought in to sit on the bench.

Right-Back: Dani Carvajal

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Not many right-backs in Spain had a better campaign last season than Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal. After returning to his boyhood club from Bayer Leverkusen, the 22-year-old thrived and eventually pushed Alvaro Arbeloa out of the starting lineup.

    Carvajal had such a good year that his absence from the Spain World Cup squad still has fans scratching their heads.

    Barcelona’s Dani Alves and Martin Montoya are both great right-backs in their own right, but put the two El Clasico giants together and Carvajal leads the way.

    His ability to defend in solid fashion and get involved in the attack makes the 22-year-old a vital component to Real Madrid and would undoubtedly see him star in this combined lineup.

Center Back: Sergio Ramos

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Barcelona and Real Madrid are extremely deep squads, and thus choosing the center-backs is no easy task. However, based on last season’s performances, making a selection does get a bit easier.

    Sergio Ramos is the first center back to make the starting lineup, which is likely not much of a surprise to those who watch La Liga on a regular basis.

    Though Ramos had a poor showing for Spain at the World Cup, he was sensational for Real Madrid—helping Los Blancos win a few big games, including the Champions League final against neighbors Atletico Madrid.

    The 28-year-old does have his shortcomings, as every player does, but his leadership in defense and ability to score from set pieces makes him a valuable player.

    Ramos is still in the peak of his career and can contribute to any club. The Real Madrid defender is poised to have yet another big season, and manager Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping the minor mistakes are behind him. 

    Gerard Pique could also see his name in this lineup, but after a few disappointing seasons, the La Masia graduate has to miss out.

Center Back: Raphael Varane

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Looking at possible pairings for Sergio Ramos reveals several promising options. Gerard Pique and Pepe both have experience alongside Ramos, while newcomer Jeremy Mathieu has been one of the best defenders in Spain over the past few years.

    At the same time, youngsters Marc Bartra and Raphael Varane can also make a case of why they deserve to be in this lineup based on past performances.

    After weighing up all of the options, Raphael Varane gets named to this combined lineup.

    Looking at all the center backs at Barcelona and Real Madrid, Varane may actually be the very best pure defender of them all. Last year the 21-year-old struggled with injuries, but the world knows what he is capable of.

    Two years ago Varane put on a masterful season, shutting down the likes of Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and others all in the span of a few months. The young defender proved that he is naturally talented and could be well on his way to becoming one of the best center backs in Europe.

    One could also argue that Jeremy Mathieu or Marc Bartra could a feature in this lineup. Both defenders were in good form last season, but Varane wins out based on what he has already done.

    Injuries are always frustrating, but no one is doubting Varane’s talent despite an off-year.

Left-Back: Jordi Alba

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    Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

    Barcelona’s first player to find his way into this lineup comes in the form of left-back Jordi Alba.

    Alba also struggled with a few injuries last season but managed to put together a solid season when he was able to be on the pitch. Now healthy again, the 25-year-old should see a lot of minutes this year.

    Real Madrid’s Marcelo also comes to mind for the left-back position, though his form has begun to dip over the past few years. The Brazilian plays a similar game to Alba, but the Catalan left-back gets the nod due to his better all-around defensive efforts and a more balanced playing style than that of Marcelo.

    Alba is very fast and can also feature as a winger. He regularly makes blistering runs down the left flank to join the attack but has significantly improved his defensive contribution over the past two years.

    While Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao battle it out to be the Real Madrid starting left-back, there is no question over Alba’s role at Barcelona. The former Valencia man is a star and fully deserves to be in this combined lineup.

Defensive Midfielder: Sergio Busquets

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    Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

    Due to so many attacking options in this combined team, there is only room for one defensive midfielder. Not surprisingly, that man is Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets.

    Busquets is one of the best defensive midfielders on the planet, and many still consider him to be the very best at what he does. His ability to read the game is second to none, and his passing game only gets better with each season.

    In a lineup that will understandably be very attack-heavy, Busquets is the perfect player to give the back line coverage and a relief to the midfield trio.

    Fellow Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano could play in this role, as could Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira or Asier Illarramendi. However, Busquets is the total package who can do it all, and the 26-year-old Spaniard is the perfect midfielder to fit this lineup.

Central Midfielder: Andres Iniesta

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    Given the pick of any players in the world, Andres Iniesta would likely make it into the ideal starting lineup of most fans. The Barcelona midfielder is still one of the best players around and can change a game at a moment’s notice.

    Iniesta continues to get better every season. His knack for dancing around defenders and pulling opponents out of position seems almost unnatural at times, and it is precisely what this attacking lineup needs to create space for the forwards.

    The La Masia graduate has won nearly everything there is to win, and there is no denying just how good he is.

    There are several other players vying for a spot in the midfield of this lineup, but Iniesta is easily the first man into the team.

Central Midfielder: Toni Kroos

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    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

    With Iniesta already in the lineup, choosing the third midfielder is the most difficult decision in choosing this lineup. Ivan Rakitic, Xavi, Angel Di Maria, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and Isco are all candidates, and not a single one of them would be a bad choice.

    For this lineup, new Real Madrid star Toni Kroos barely sees his name on the lineup sheet. With this being such a tough decision, let us explain.

    Xavi does not make it due to his age and the miles on his body, though the 34-year-old can still turn it on for a given game. Isco also falls short based on the fact that there is so much talent in front of him already at Real Madrid.

    The choice then comes down to Kroos, Di Maria, Rakitic, Modric and Rodriguez.

    Simply put, Kroos gets the nod because he offers the most balanced play of all the choices, and is arguably the best player out of the five in contention.

    The German was arguably the best midfielder at this summer’s World Cup, and Real Madrid splashed the cash to bring him to the Santiago Bernabeu because they recognized just how good he is and what he can bring to the team.

    Honestly, there are so many great midfielders in this combined team that a wrong choice can’t really be made. Based on the last few seasons, Kroos has the most quality and is the perfect complement to Andres Iniesta.

Left Wing: Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    When it comes to the front three of this combined El Clasico team, there is not much room for debate.

    Cristiano Ronaldo is the right choice for the left wing and a pick everyone saw coming. The Real Madrid star is one of the best players on the planet and gets this position in any ideal lineup as well.

    Ronaldo is one of the fastest players in the game and provides a bit of flair on the pitch, mixed with a deadly eye for goal. His quality is known worldwide, and it doesn’t look like he will be slowing down anytime soon.

    The 29-year-old can score goals in any way imaginable and is arguably the most complete player in football today.

Right Wing: Lionel Messi

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    When it comes to Barcelona and Real Madrid, you can’t have Ronaldo without Lionel Messi; this lineup is no different.

    To many, Messi is the greatest player to ever kick a ball and surely the most dominant left-footed footballer of all time. He’s done it all and continues to break records every year, despite being only 27 years old.

    The idea of Messi and Ronaldo sharing the pitch is almost unthinkable. The El Clasico rivals are the two biggest faces in football, and the thought of them passing the ball to one another is something out of a video game.

    With this lineup, defenders will not stand a chance.

    Ronaldo will be attacking from the left while Messi cuts in from the right; the only thing missing is a world-class center forward between them, and lucky for us, one of the best strikers in Europe fills the last spot in this combined team.

Striker: Luis Suarez

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Rounding out our combined Barcelona and Real Madrid lineup is former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

    Suarez has arguably been the most dominant striker in the game over the past few years, and it makes sense that Barcelona had to pay top dollar to sign him. Though his ban will keep him from seeing the pitch for a while, it doesn’t keep him from making our list.

    Suarez can do it all and then some. He can score goals with his head and either foot, but he also assists far more than the average striker. Putting him in between Ronaldo and Messi creates the perfect storm and the worst nightmare of any defender.

    From front to back, this lineup has it all. Barcelona and Real Madrid have two of the strongest squads in Europe and a combined squad would surely be near-unstoppable.

    Many world-class stars have to miss out on this lineup because there are simply not enough spots to go around. Big names like Gareth Bale, Neymar and James Rodriguez didn’t make it into this lineup. Would they make it into yours?

     

    How do you think a combined Barcelona and Real Madrid lineup would look? Which side has the strongest team? Leave your thoughts and comments below!

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