Bayern Munich face off against Real Madrid this evening, but who makes the cut in our combined Champions League side?
In this evening's European action, nine-time Champions League winners Real Madrid host the five-time winners and reigning champions Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu, in what is almost certainly a meeting of the world's two best teams at present.
Here I choose my combined starting eleven, featuring players from both sides in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
GK: Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer is arguably the world’s greatest goalkeeper and based on this merit, his selection in a combined starting eleven is indisputable. After missing the Bavarian’s last two matches with a muscular injury, but he should be pronounced fit to start in Madrid.
RB: Philipp Lahm
Philipp Lahm has more often than not played in midfield this season, but as Bayern face off against Cristiano Ronaldo a co. it’s likely he’ll be deployed at right back. The German international is far superior to opposite number Daniel Carvajal in terms of both experience and overall ability.
Pepe has been a different player since returning from his injury this season. He regained his starting spot in Real’s squad and has appeared in almost every game since. Ultimately has been rock solid at the back and this will be a huge asset against the attacking threat posed by Bayern.
Dante has been exceptional at the heart of the Bayern Munich defence since arriving in the summer of 2012. He has a wealth of experience and this will be invaluable during the club’s visit to the Bernabeu.
LB: David Alaba
David Alaba is an outstanding talent and, at just 21 years of age, he has a tremendous future ahead of him. He is a fantastic asset, both in attack and defence, and his effective partnership with Ribery down the left flank has provided decisive moments for the team. He’ll have a defensive challenge for himself in the form of Gareth Bale.
CDM: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian Schweinsteiger has been a stalwart at the heart of the Bayern midfield for a number of seasons now. He will be charged with controlling the midfield against a star studded Real Madrid side. The German missed the second leg of the United tie through suspension, but he will be back in the line-up this evening.
CDM: Luka Modric
Luka Modric is currently enjoying his best form since arriving in Madrid during Jose Mourinho’s reign and the Spanish outfit are certainly seeing the benefits of such fine performances.
RW: Frank Ribery
Despite his advancing age Ribery remains a key option in Pep Guardiola’s attack. He has netted three times in the Champions League this season, whilst weighing in with a further two assists. He will face off against Madrid right-back Daniel Carvajal – expect him to see some success.
LW: Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale’s debut season in Spain was initially hindered by minor injuries. Despite setting off at a steady pace, his performances have improved considerably. Since his arrival, he has made 39 appearances scoring 20 goals and assisting a further 15. He just about edges Arjen Robben out of this side.
CAM: Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo’s inclusion in this side speaks for itself. The Portuguese Ballon d’Or winner has scored 14 goals in just eight Champions League appearances – equalling the all-time current record, held by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. Ronaldo has missed Madrid’s last four matches with knee and hamstring problems, but after returning to training on Monday he should be fit to start.
ST: Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema would occupy the natural front man role, his performances playing as the spearhead of the Madrid front three have earned him a number of plaudits throughout the season. He has scored four times in this season’s tournament, whilst assisting five for his teammates.