As we enter the year of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it is once again time to start debating which country might win the greatest cup competition in the world.
Most likely, that nation will come from either Europe or South America, but Thomas Jordan looks at what might happen if the two continents created their own dream teams and battled it out.
Europe XI: 4-4-2
GK: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich, Germany)
The German shot-stopper is an obvious choice between the sticks as the only keeper to make the 23-man 2013 Ballon d'Or shortlist. At just 27 years of age, Neuer has plenty more years at the top level to come.
RB: Philip Lahm (Bayern Munich, Germany)
Lahm's consistency for club and country over the past eight years or so has undoubtedly established him as the best full-back in the world right now, if not of his generation. Testament to this, is his place as one of only two defenders on the World Player of the Year shortlist.
CB: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City, Belgium)
Part of Belgium's flourishing golden generation, Kompany has been at the heart of City's meteoric rise in British and now European football. With the red half of Manchester falling behind this season, the Belgian has now overtaken Nemanja Vidic as the best centre-back in England.
CB: Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus, Italy)
The Italian has not been in the limelight of late, due to Juve's recent failure to compete highly in Europe as they used to, but Chiellini remains the best defender in Serie A. A vital part of Italy's journey to the 2012 European Championships final, the 29-year-old will surely get the credit he deserves once Juventus make their mark in the Champions League.
LB: Jordi Alba (Barcelona, Spain)
Alba just gets the nod over young Bayern star Alaba who is yet to perform over a number of years. The 24-year-old Spaniard is still young himself, but already holds a European Championship medal, scoring in Spain's 4-0 final victory over Italy.
RM: Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich, Germany)
Normally a left-sided player, Ribéry is being shifted to the right side in this team to accommodate a certain Welshman. Being right-footed, this shouldn't affect the Bayern Munich star too much, especially considering the Frenchman was voted as one of the top three players in the world last year.
CM: Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona, Spain)
Along with his master in crime Xavi, this little Spaniard has been the centre of both Barcelona and Spain throughout their respective golden generations. During that time, the 29-year-old has won everything there is to be won, the pinnacle of his career being his winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final.
CM: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich, Germany)
The fact that this powerful German has separated the inseparable pairing of Xavi and Iniesta in this team shows the impact that he has had on European football over the past few years. The central midfielder is the unsung hero of the Bayern side which is now officially the best team in the world after their victorious 2013 Club World Cup campaign.
LM: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid, Wales)
After scoring a stunning 26 goals from midfield in the 2012-13, the winger became only the second player after Cristiano Ronaldo to win the PFA Player's Player of the Year, PFA Young Player of the Year and Football Writers' Player of the Year in the same year. The Welshman is also the most expensive player in history after completing an £85 million transfer to Real Madrid in the summer of 2013.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Portugal)
Officially the best player in the world, this two-time winner of the Ballon d'Or has scored an incredible 228 goals in just 220 games for Real Madrid, so in this team he would be wasted out on the wing. The Portuguese forward had an incredible 2013 as he regained his World Player of the Year title from Lionel Messi and will go down as one of the footballing greats of the 21st century.
ST: Zlatan Ibrahimović (Paris Saint-Germain, Sweden)
Despite the enigmatic Swedish forward having reached the age of 32, Zlatan only seems to be getting better. An incredibly naturally gifted player of immense technique and skill, the PSG striker seems to pull off things others would never even think of, such as his 30-yard bicycle kick versus England which will surely come to be regarded as one of the greatest goals of all time.
Manager: José Mourinho (Chelsea, Portugal)
With Sir Alex Ferguson retired, there was little competition for this spot. 'The Special One' is without doubt the most talented manager in the world, possessing immense tactical skill which has brought him success at every club he has managed.
Bench: Casillas (GK - Real Madrid, Spain), Alaba (LB/DM - Bayern Munich, Austria), Xavi (CM - Barcelona, Spain), Robben (LW/RW - Bayern Munich, Netherlands), Van Persie (ST - Manchester United, Netherlands)
South America XI: 4-3-3
GK: Julio Cesar (Queen's Park Rangers, Brazil)
Although the Brazilian stopper's career has dipped somewhat since the 2010 World Cup, Julio Cesar is still the best goalkeeper in South America. After a fruitful period at Inter Milan, culminating in their quadruple triumph of 2010, the 34-year-old became known as one of the best keepers in the world; if he were to leave QPR and join a major European side, he could easily rebuild his reputation.
RB: Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City, Argentina)
Since signing at Manchester City for just £6 million in the summer of 2008, the Argentinian has made his price tag look a bargain. The 28-year-old has since become club captain, leading City to their first title in 44 years, and is now regarded as arguably the best full-back in the Premier League.
CB: Dante (Bayern Munich, Brazil)
The 30-year-old Brazilian has been a late bloomer in the game, but he has blossomed into one of the finest centre-backs in Europe over the past two years. He is now an integral part of the current greatest team in world football.
CB: Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil)
As the other of only two defenders to make the Ballon d'Or shortlist, this PSG centre back will be the captain of the South American back line. The Brazilian became the second most expensive defender ever when he moved to PSG for £35 million.
LB: Dani Alves (Barcelona, Brazil)
This Brazilian full-back's pace and skill is such that you would be forgiven for thinking he was a winger, and his versatility means we can play him at left-back in this team. Perhaps just at the end of his peak years at 30, he remains Barca's first choice right-back and is capable of scoring stunning goals.
RCM: Arturo Vidal (Juventus, Chile)
This energetic Chilean has now become highly-regarded around Europe as one of the top performers in Serie A. Able to both burst forward to attack and then help out in defence, the Juventus central midfielder will give much-needed balance to this South America side.
CM: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona, Argentina)
The former West Ham and Liverpool midfielder has never quite been able to find a regular place in the star-studded Barcelona team, often having to fill in a centre-back, but he remains the best defensive midfielder in South America. The Argentinian had a very successful period at Anfield, where he was seen as being a player of great intelligence and awareness.
LCM: David Luiz (Chelsea, Brazil)
Some may say the Chelsea defender is a liability at the back, but there is no doubting his natural footballing ability. So in this team he is pushed up to central midfield where he is often being employed nowadays for the Blues, allowing him to express his incredible confidence and imagination on the ball which could be a little too risky for a centre-half.
LW: Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Argentina)
Not much more can be said about this wonderful forward, who has already written himself into footballing history as a legend of the game by winning the Ballon d'Or title four years in a row between 2009 and 2012. Last year actually marked an off year as he only scored 60 goals, compared to 73 the previous year...
ST: Radamel Falcao (AS Monaco, Colombia)
The Colombian superstar just beat Cavani to the central striker position, mainly because of his stunning goal-scoring record without the help of the world-class strike partners the Uruguayan has been privy to at Napoli and now PSG. Falcao has also managed to drag his country to the 2014 World Cup, scoring eight goals in qualifying.
RW: Luis Suarez (Liverpool, Uruguay)
Whether you love him or hate him, the controversial Liverpool striker is an incredible player whose performances this term have seen him become the most feared player in the Premier League. His 2013-14 streak of 22 goals in just 16 games is unprecedented in the English top division and could see him go on to break many records this season.
Manager: Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil, Brazil)
This man has managed some of the greatest players in history, having led a Brazilian national side including Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Rivaldo (to name a few!) to victory at the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea. After a very successful five-year stint with Portugal - where he arguably overachieved in bringing them to the 2004 European Championship final and 2006 World Cup semi-final - he has now returned to Brazil and is hoping to lead them to their first World Cup since under his own management 12 years ago.
Bench: Muslera (GK - Galatasaray, Uruguay), Marcelo (LB - Real Madrid, Brazil), Ramires (CM - Chelsea, Brazil), Neymar (FW - Barcelona, Brazil), Cavani (FW - Paris Saint-Germain, Uruguay)
Result: Europe XI 3 - 2 South America XI
Europe would just edge it in a classic end-to-end attacking game, due to their superiority in midfield. Both sides have an array of top quality attacking talent, but South America's inability to hold on to the ball in the middle of the park against the pairing of Iniesta and Schweinsteiger will let them down, preventing them from providing consistent service for their world-class forwards.
Did you agree with the team selected and the result? Give your suggestions in the comments selection below.
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