Ronaldo, Zidane, Benzema: Roberto Carlos’ all-time Champions League XI

Carlos is a Champions League great.

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.

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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.”

Football – Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid – UEFA Champions League Final – Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal – 24/5/14 Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Carl Recine Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

RB: Cafu

“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.”

Real Madrid’s Fabio Cannavaro acknowledges the supporters during their Spanish first division soccer match against Real Mallorca at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium May 24, 2009. REUTERS/Juan Medina (SPAIN SPORT SOCCER)

LB: Marcelo

“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.”

Manchester United’s David Beckham falls in front of Real Madrid’s Argentine midfielder Fernando Redondo during their Champions league quarter final first leg match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium April 4. SP/ps

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.”

FILE PHOTO AS Roma’s Francesco Totti celebrates scoring a goal against Manchester City during their Champions League soccer match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northern England September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

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.”

Soccer Football – Champions League – Group F – Manchester United v Villarreal – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – September 29, 2021 Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Phil Noble

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!”

Soccer Football – Champions League Semi Final First Leg – FC Barcelona v Liverpool – Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain – May 1, 2019 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi reacts after a missed chance by Ousmane Dembele (not pictured) at the end of the match REUTERS/Albert Gea

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?