Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi star in European XI vs South American XI

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It's an age-old debate that, like many, often proves an interesting talking point for football fans.

With next year's European Championships looming and a chance for Europe's elite to showcase their ability - and given that the Copa America has been and gone this summer - the question remains: Who would win a game between Europe and South America XI's?

Looking at the International Business Times Top 50 Footballers in the World 2015/16, the numbers read, with regards to how many players are from either region: 26% of the world’s top 50 originate from South America, whilst the other 74% are Europeans.


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The top 50 list isn’t a conclusive way of comparing how good the world’s regions are, of course, but it is the best means available.

To establish which region is better, and for a bit of fun, let’s assume South America formed a united team to play against a European team. The rules are simple - as long as you are born in either continent, you may represent them.

Let’s get started:


Goalkeeper – Manuel Neuer

Right Back – Philipp Lahm (c)

Centre Back – Jerome Boateng

Centre Back- Sergio Ramos

Left Back – David Alaba

Centre Mid – Andres Iniesta

Centre Mid – Toni Kroos

Centre Mid – Luka Modric

Right Wing – Gareth Bale

Left Wing – Cristiano Ronaldo

Forward – Robert Lewandowski

Choosing the European number one is perhaps more difficult than for South America. Neuer has won it all, including the World Cup, and was even third place for the Ballon D’Or in 2014 - an unprecedented achievement for a 'keeper.

David de Gea is newer on the scene and not quite as experienced, but his recent form has seen him soar as one of the world's best shot-stoppers. Ironically, post Van der Sar, Manchester United were interested in both keepers.

The defensive line picks itself and it’s difficult to see who would challenge for any position. It's possible Gerard Pique may be the preference of some sports fans, or maybe Vincent Kompany, but Ramos and Boateng would undoubtedly form a solid pairing at centre-back.

Lahm has been used as something of a utility player in recent seasons, but will start at right-back and captain the side. Some criticism may come of his pace, but the world market is short on quality right-backs at the moment, and none have the experience that he possesses.

At left-back, Alaba is an obvious choice completing a Bayern-dominated defence.

In midfield, the Europeans have an abundance of creative players. Iniesta and Modric are certain picks, but choosing between Kroos and Paul Pogba was a difficult one.

They both offer slightly different takes on the role, so it would be a personal preference as to who starts. Kevin De Bruyne may well be in with a shout as a leading European midfielder, especially if he continues his impressive form in back to back seasons.

Finally, the attacking line. Ronaldo was the obvious choice, of course, like Lionel Messi for South America, but he would play on the wing in order to accommodate Europe's hottest striker - Lewandowski.

His free goalscoring form recently yielded 12 goals in four appearances and a record breaking hat-trick. The second winger, however, was more difficult to choose.

In football, wingers tend to move and rotate but, regardless, Bale, Arjen Robben and Eden Hazard all have their own selling points.

Robben is coming back from a long-term injury and Hazard has started this season very poorly - as a result, Bale, following his heroics for Wales and exploits for Real Madrid, completes a frightening front three.


Goalkeeper – Fernando Muslera

Right Back – Dani Alves

Centre Back – Thiago Silva (c)

Centre Back – Diego Godin

Left Back - Marcelo

Defensive Mid – Arturo Vidal

Defensive Mid – Javier Mascherano

Centre Mid – James Rodriguez

Right Wing – Luis Suarez

Left Wing – Neymar Jr.

Forward – Lionel Messi

Choosing a goalkeeper for the South Americans was fairly straightforward. Fernando Muslera possesses the strongest skill set, yet has never played for a top side in Europe.

The back four features three Brazilians in Marcelo, Alves and Silva, with Uruguayan Godin pairing the latter at centre-back. Whilst South America has a huge amount of developing talent, there were very few names who had the skills and experience to challenge this back four.

Zabaleta, Danilo or Alex Sandro may challenge for full-back positions, but it would be a close call.

In midfield, the South Americans lack natural, rounded midfielders like Iniesta and Modric. No doubt they have world-class talent, but the players chosen are more specialist in their duties.

Mascherano and Vidal form a pairing in front of the back four which would be difficult to penetrate. The Argentine has been operating mainly as a centre-back for Barcelona, but was a great asset during his Liverpool days as a defensive midfielder.

Vidal, on the other hand, would act more as the pivot player, as he displays more flare and vision than the Argentinian.

In an all-out central attacking role, Colombian maestro James Rodriguez will look for assists and forward passing options. Perhaps the only threat to midfield positions would be Brazil's Willian or Angel Di Maria, who would offer more pace than Rodriguez. Again, this is likely a personal preference.

And finally, the front three. What is interesting in this side is that all three attacking players could potentially come straight from their club side Barcelona and perform the same role. Messi, Suarez and Neymar have formed a deadly and dynamic sub-team which is difficult to predict.

Messi is injured, however, but it would be crazy to exclude the best player in the world - and perhaps of all time.

In terms of other names, Sergio Aguero and Alexis Sanchez have been in excellent domestic form in the Premier League. Whether they would operate as efficiently as the Barcelona trio is a matter of debate.

Looking at each line-up, they are simply outstanding. The quality in every position is clear to see - it would certainly be a close contest.

Who do you think would win this fixture? Which players would stand out? Are there any names you would feature which have been missed? Post your comments below.

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