Roberto Carlos is one of the greatest players in Champions League history.
When you’re arguably the finest male left-back of all time, it’s probably a given that you thrived in UEFA’s flagship competition, but you really got the impression that Carlos rose to the big occasion in Europe.
The iconic Brazilian got his hands on ‘Big Ears’ no less than three times with Real Madrid in 1998, 2000 and 2002, even assisting Zinedine Zidane’s iconic Hampden Park volley along the way.
Carlos and the Champions League
So, it would be fair to say that Carlos is a pretty good authority on showing world-class brilliance on the Champions League stage, right?
Damn right, and Carlos revealed his personal picks for the ultimate Champions League XI using said knowledge as his beloved Los Blancos prepared to do battle with Liverpool in the 2022 climax.
In the 246 competitive meetings, which side has won the most?
In an exclusive interview with SPORTbible, the 49-year-old walked through a star-studded XI featuring a whole host of former Real teammates who turned the Champions League into their playground.
It’s not an XI that everybody will agree with – note the absence of a certain Lionel Messi – but there aren’t many teams who would stand a chance if they played against the line-up in its prime.
Liverpool are TOO GOOD for Real Madrid! (Football Terrace)
Roberto Carlos’ ultimate Champions League XI
So, without further ado, be sure to check out Carlos’ ultimate Champions League XI and his justification for each selection down below:
GK: Iker Casillas
“You always had a lot of trust in him and his experience. Every great team starts with a good goalkeeper. You could see how calm and collected he was.”
“He’s fast, he’s intelligent and very important for the team. He was like a true captain.”
CB: Fernando Hierro and Fabio Cannavaro
“They used to get along very well. Hierro was like my father at Real Madrid and Cannavaro was considered to be the best in the world. One was very fast, in Cannavaro, and the other very strong, in Hierro.”
“He has been the best in the last 20 years. I told Marcelo to not leave Real Madrid because I believed in him and knew had the potential to be great.”
DM: Fernando Redondo and Casemiro
“They are two players that help off the ball, stopping the ball from getting through to the defence.”
AM: Zinedine Zidane
“He was just magical. The world stopped to see Zidane play.”
RF: Francesco Totti
“Nowadays it’s very hard to have players stay at just one club for that long. That’s how he made his legacy. He was more comfortable playing at Roma and the Italian national team.”
CF: Karim Benzema
“Everything points towards him winning the Ballon d’Or. Last year I think the Ballon d’Or was a bit weird with the results, hopefully this year Benzema is going to be the best in the world.”
LF: Cristiano Ronaldo
“Cristiano represents exactly what the Champions League is and modern football. We will only have one Cristiano.”
Ermm… Lionel Messi?
It’s almost like Carlos used to play for Real or something…
The legendary Brazilian only picked two players who never pulled on the famous white jersey and one of them, Cafu, sharing a dressing room for many years with Carlos in the national team.
However, to be fair to Carlos, he did acknowledge that he had to make some tough omissions with many of the Barcelona icons of Pep Guardiola’s era proving conspicuous by their absence.
The World Cup winner conceded: “It’s very hard to do the XI because there are so many amazing players I’ve had to leave out – [Lionel] Messi, Neymar and Vinicius Jr. I think we would lose because nobody in my team really defends! I like football with a lot of goals!”
Still, you’ll forgive us for thinking that Carlos’ personal line-up differs quite strongly with what most people would pick as their ultimate Champions League XI, particularly in regards to snubbing Messi.
But then again, who are us mere mortals to argue with the greatest left-back in history?