European football’s showpiece occasion takes place later today as Italian champions Juventus and La Liga winners Real Madrid contest the 2017 Champions League final.
Max Allegri’s men are aiming to go one better than their 3-1 final defeat to Barcelona in 2015, while holders Madrid can become the first team in the modern era to successfully defend the trophy.
Both giants are blessed with amazing talent, but what would be the best combined XI between the two? Let’s take a look at our construction of a star-studded 4-3-1-2 Real and Juve line-up.
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GK – Gigi Buffon
Keylor Navas has performed very well under Zinedine Zidane, but only one man was ever going to take the goalkeeping gloves in this XI and his name is Gianluigi Buffon.
The Juve and Italy captain is still going strong at age of 39, racking up 42 appearances this season, and this may be the World Cup winner’s third and final chance to win the Champions League.
RB – Dani Alves
Veteran right-back Dani Alves has adapted well to life in Italy and popped up with some vital goals, including his header at Porto and a semi-final volley against Monaco.
The charismatic Brazilian redefined the role of a full-back during his eight years at Barca, so he would love to celebrate victory this evening at his ex-club’s bitter rivals’ expense.
CB – Sergio Ramos
In addition to captaining both club and country, Sergio Ramos has become a world-class centre-back and the heart and soul of Madrid in recent years.
The Spaniard incredibly hit double figures for goals this season and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he added to his 2014 and 2016 Champions League final strikes in today’s clash.
CB – Leo Bonucci
Juve’s Giorgio Chiellini is an absolute rock, however compatriot and teammate Leonardo Bonucci has developed into arguably the finest defender in Europe.
The composed 30-year-old calmly anchors the “Italian Wall” backline in club and international football, with his awareness, reading of the game and distribution all being second to none.
LB - Marcelo
Marcelo beats fellow Brazilian Alex Sandro to the left-back spot, given that, despite his position, he has as big an influence on Madrid’s style of play as any other player.
The 29-year-old, who has a terrific engine on him, is always an outlet, he flies forward at every opportunity, and his quality when he reaches the final third makes him the world’s best attacking full-back.
CM – Luka Modric
Real fans labelled Luka Modric the worst signing of 2012, but ever since then they’ve been thanking their lucky stars that the world-class Croatian plays for Los Blancos.
The midfielder, blessed with class and vision, floats around the pitch and always seems to be in space. Defensively, he’s not afraid to put his foot in, and on the ball, Modric is simply outstanding.
CM – Toni Kroos
Casemiro’s displays since breaking into Real’s starting line-up have been fantastic, but it is Modric’s other partner in the middle of the park; Toni Kroos, who is included in this XI.
The German maestro sees everything from his deep-lying position, his effortless technique makes him good enough to control games all by himself, and the 27-year-old is arguably the most accurate passer in world football.
CAM - Isco
Miralem Pjanic has been a superb signing for Juve, but can we really leave out Spanish playmaker Isco, who’s scored five times in the last eight matches, based on his current form?
The 25-year-old has been Real’s best player over the past two months, producing many moments of pure genius, and he’s technically gifted enough to play in literally any midfield position.
CF – Paulo Dybala
Paulo Dybala struggled with injury earlier in the campaign, yet the rising 23-year-old star has gone on to register 19 goals and eight assists from 47 outings in all competitions.
Whether it’s up front or just behind the main striker, Juve’s most prized possession has all the talent to eventually take over from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s best.
ST – Cristiano Ronaldo
Speaking of Cristiano, and Real’s main man, who has been used much more centrally by Zidane this season instead of out wide, has bagged a whopping 40 goals in 45 games, including ten in Europe.
The 32-year-old fired Real to the Champions League final, scoring five in total against Bayern Munich as well as a hat-trick in the semi-final first-leg win over Atletico Madrid.
ST – Gonzalo Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain completes this combined XI ahead of Karim Benzema, having enjoyed a stunning first year with Juventus following his £75.3 million move from Napoli.
The Argentinian has scored 32 goals in 54 matches this term, and he’ll have more motivation than most tonight, given that he spent seven years at the Bernabeu between 2006 and 2013.
Who would YOU put in your combined XI? Who will win this year's Champions League: Juve or Real? Have YOUR say in the comments box below!
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