Messi, Ronaldo, Scholes: An all-time Champions League XI has been named by Amazon

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The Champions League is one of the most prestigious competitions in all of sport.

There are many footballers around the world who would even prefer to lift 'Big Ears' than the FIFA World Cup and this year's final will pit Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich up against each other.

It's something of a clash of the ages with Bayern having won the competition five times in their history, while their French opponents, founded in 1970, are entering their first ever final.

Champions League legends

It's impossible to tell whether the final in Lisbon will live up to the hype, but one thing is guaranteed: one team will go down in the history books as the most unique Champions League winners.

While, sure, great players like Ronaldo Nazario and Zlatan Ibrahimovic haven't lifted the famous trophy, conquering the Champions League is a massive victory for any player's legacy.

And ahead of Sunday's conclusion to the longest ever Champions League season, newly-fledged football broadcasters Amazon Prime have decided to name the competition's greatest ever XI.


All-time Champions League XI

Aside from being a thoroughly daunting prospect, it's also one that inevitably sparks controversy and it's fair to say that football fans aren't happy with a few of their choices in particular.

And if you've read the headline, then you'll know that Manchester United legend Paul Scholes was initially selected, much to the bewilderment of fans and to the extent that Amazon even booted him out.

But, sorry Amazon, we're not letting you off the hook, so here is their original XI in all its glory with our breakdown on whether their selections were bang on or wide of the mark.


GK - Iker Casillas

Pretty hard to argue with this choice. Casillas is one of the greatest goalkeepers of the modern era, winning the Champions League three times and producing a masterclass during the 2002 final.

My gut reaction was actually to pick Gianluigi Buffon, but the fact he's always come up short in this particular competition has brought me round to the idea of Casillas standing between the sticks.


RB - Dani Alves

One of the most straight forward selections, in my opinion.

Sure, Cafu was the better player on the whole, but we're talking about the Champions League in isolation and Alves boasts three trophies as part of being the most decorated footballer in history.


CB - Carles Puyol

Given our next choice, this essentially comes down to Puyol vs Gerard Pique and especially after the events of last week - I '8-2' to remind you - I'm pretty happy to support Amazon's decision here.

We'd also give Puyol the captain's armband in this star-studded team after leading Barcelona to 'Big Ears' on three occasions with an old-fashioned leadership style we wish we saw more often.


CB - Sergio Ramos

Look, Ramos is one of the greatest defenders of all time and the fact he captained Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions League titles is reason enough to slot him into the defence.

But when you also consider that he scored the heroic last-minute equaliser in the 2014 final, as well as scoring in the 2016 climax, his inclusion becomes something of a no-brainer.


LB - Paolo Maldini

Even if Maldini never won a single Champions League trophy in his career, you'd be forgiven for including him in this XI because the AC Milan is arguably the finest defender to ever play the sport.

However, Maldini happened to love Europe's premier competition, getting his hands on the silverware three times after the 1992 rebranding and even lifted the title at 38 years old.


RM - Lionel Messi

Like, duh, do we even need to justify one of the greatest footballers in history being included?

Barcelona's recent Champions League woes aside, Messi has been crowned a European champion four times, scoring in two finals, while also boasting 115 goals as the competition's second highest scorer of all time.


CM - Paul Scholes

You what? Ok, here it is, the selection that had everybody up in arms in the comments and it's easy to see why.

Look, I'm not denying for one second that Scholes was a top player... he's one of United's greatest ever stars and has been named by countless world-class superstars as their toughest ever opponent.

But it's hard to see a just scenario in which he's chosen above the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Clarence Seedorf, Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo when we're just talking about the Champions League.

I love you, Scholes, I really do, but I'm not sure I can back your selection here.


CM - Xavi

If you've ever seen Xavi with the ball at his feet in the Champions League, you know exactly why he uncontroversially strolls into this team.

As well as having won the title four times with his beloved Barcelona, the Spanish magician is also the tournament's fifth most creative player in history with a superb 30 assists, just 10 behind top spot.


LM - Raul

Perhaps not the most obvious choice, but the more statistics and history books you delve into, the more it makes sense to include the Real Madrid legend in this side.

Only Ronaldo and Messi boast a higher goal tally in Europe's premier competition with Raul amassing an impressive 71, including strikes in the 2000 and 2002 finals respectively.


CAM - Andres Iniesta

Like Xavi, this decision is pretty straight forward.

Barcelona were never far away from European glory between 2006 and 2016 with Iniesta playing a massive role in that domination, establishing himself as one of the finest midfielders to play the game.


ST - Cristiano Ronaldo

It's not a Champions League all-time XI without the greatest player in the competition's history.

Park whatever you think about the Ronaldo vs Messi debate because there's no doubt in our mind that the answer is easy when you take the Champions League in isolation.

Ronaldo is a five-time champion across spells with Manchester United and Real Madrid as well as being the leading scorer in the tournament's history with a mind-blowing 130 strikes.


Full starting XI


Scholes out... but for who?

So, how did they change things? Well, they tweeted out that, by popular demand, Scholes was unworthy of his place in the team and they opened up a vote to see who should replace him.

Zidane, Gerrard, Pirlo and Seedorf were all put forward in the vote and as much as it pains us to say, we think that the entire quartet is more worthy than Scholes.

And if we had to choose one of them, it would probably have to be Seedorf by way of him making history as the only player to win with three clubs - Ajax, Real Madrid and Juventus.


Hindsight is a beautiful thing, though, Amazon, so stick to your guns with the original picks because, it must be said, that naming an all-time Champions League XI is about as hard as predicting the competition itself.

But, no Scholes. That we can all agree on, right?

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