Due to the titanic Champions League quarter-final tie coming up between European giants, Bayern Munich and Juventus, we look at the players would make the starting 11 if a manager had both squads at his disposal.
Formation - 4-3-3
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon | Juventus
The Italy number 1 is still considered to be one of the best shot-stoppers in the world, and has been one of the best around for over a decade now and will surely be recognised as one of the all-time greats when he hangs up his gloves. Conceding only 17 goals last season shows his quality, and his experience would give him the nod over Bayern’s own world-class custodian, Manuel Neuer.
Right-back: Philipp Lahm | Bayern Munich
The Germany international was a key component of the Bavarians' run to the Champions League final last year, and has been almost flawless this season as Bayern have steamrolled the Bundesliga and currently sit 20 points clear of Borussia Dortmund in second. He has also been part of a defence that has only conceded 13 league goals this season. Although Juve’s Stephan Lichtsteiner is one of Europe’s best wing-back’s, Lahm is one of few who can be categorised as better.
Centre-back: Andrea Barzagli | Juventus
The Italy international is one of football’s greatest ever bargains, after Juve signed him for an initial fee of less than £300,000 back in 2011 from VfL Wolfsburg. Since his move he has gained a reputation as one of the best defenders in Italy and Europe, with undoubted talent and experience it makes him a formidable opponent for any attackers in world football today. Arguably Bayern are weakest at the back, and Barzagli would get a place over Holger Badstuber any day of the week.
Centre-back: Giorgio Chiellini | Juventus
The big defender has become talismanic for the Old Lady and for Italy, with his defensive ability and his aerial presence in attack. He can also switch to left-back if needed, where he is also useful, and his versatility is key to Juve’s rotation plan and can fit into any formation. It would be hard to name a defender in world football that is more talented or complete than Chiellini, and would start over the inconsistent Jerome Boateng of Bayern Munich.
Left-back: Kwadwo Asamoah | Juventus
The Ghanaian international was sorely missed by Juve while he was at the Africa Cup of Nations. His ability to bomb down the wings and ability to play in the centre of midfield saw him take the place of Chilean Mauricio Isla in the Juventus line-up and he has become one of the first names on Antonio Conte’s team-sheet. Co-owned with Udinese, Juve own half his contract which they purchased for less than £9m in July 2012, and they have confirmed an agreement with Udinese that will see him become a full Bianconero in the summer of 2013. His stamina, ability and experience would see him nudge the promising David Alaba out of the line-up.
Centre-midfield: Arturo Vidal | Juventus
The Chilean international has been a revelation in Turin since signing from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2011 for £10.5m. Juve have rejected bids of up to £40m from Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich for the tenacious midfielder, and rumour has it that he is Pep Guardiola’s number 1 target in the summer. His ability to attack and defend in equal measures has made him one of Juve’s top danger men, and with Conte’s help, he has developed into one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the world. The fact that he is one of Bayer’s top targets shows he would get a place over Luiz Gustavo.
Centre-midfield: Bastian Schweinsteiger | Bayern Munich
The iconic German playmaker has previously been a target for Juventus, Real Madrid and Chelsea, and with a list of admirers that good shows his undeniable quality.
The 28-year-old has been part of Bayern’s set up since 2002, which means that after 11 years playing for one of Europe’s top clubs has given him invaluable experience. His on-ball wizardry and ability to pick out a pass from almost anywhere on the field, not to mention his high work-rate and never-say-die attitude has given him the reputation of one of football’s best midfielders. His consistency and wider range of abilities would get him a place over Juve’s Claudio Marchisio
Centre-midfield: Andrea Pirlo | Juventus
If you asked 100 people ‘who are the five best midfielders of the current generation?’ two names will come up in almost everyone’s answer: Xavi and Pirlo.
Pirlo’s astounding passing ability, vision, balance, skill, trickery and dead-ball expertise make him possibly the most complete footballer playing today. Don’t pressure him and you will give him too much space, like against Inter at the weekend, or pressure him and encourage him to move, like Chelsea did in the penultimate game of the Champions League group stage this season. Do either and he will dictate play and unlock the defence time and time again.
The only way to stop him is to stop the players he’s supplying the ball to. His experience, talent and ability would see him fit into almost any squad in Europe, and this would see him get a place over Javi Martinez.
Right-wing: Franck Ribery | Bayern Munich
The talented Frenchman has been a starter for the German giants since his 2007 move from French side Marseille. At the time, the £25m Bayern paid for him seemed a little much for a player who was unproven in the Champions League. But since his arrival they haven’t looked back as he stepped up and took Hasan Salihamidzic's place on the right side of the attacking trident.
His pace and control can make him unplayable at times, and on his day he is one of the best wingers in the world. His pace gives him the edge over Mirko Vucinic.
Left-wing: Arjen Robben | Bayern Munich
Possibly Bayern’s most naturally gifted player, the former Chelsea star finally hit his potential in Germany and has been considered as one of the best players in the world since his £21m switch from Real Madrid.
His trademark runs down the wing are difficult to defend against and 44 goals in 74 Bundesliga appearances shows that he can be a scoring threat as well. His experience would get him a place over Juve’s Sebastian Giovinco, who although is immensely talented, cannot influence a game like the Dutch international can.
Striker: Mario Mandzukic | Bayern Munich
The big striker was Croatia’s main man in the Euro 2012 finals, scoring three goals in as many games, finishing as joint-top scorer. His stand out performances for Croatia and decent scoring record for VfL Wolfsburg got him his career defining move, and he has grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Although he may not score as much as Mario Gomez, he gives a lot more to the team and can operate as a poacher or as a deeper lying forward. Gomez often looks lethargic, and as seen against Chelsea in last years Champions League final; he isn't always as clinical as his stats would suggest.
Mandzukic has taken Bayern’s attack to the next level and made them even more dangerous in attack. Although Fabio Quagliarella may be more gifted and be more versatile, the Croat is a much more potent attacking threat.
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