Champions League finals: A 21st Century Dregs XI

Date published: Friday 25th May 2018 6:57

To qualify, a player must have featured for at least one minute of any Champions League final since 2000…


GK: Dida (Milan)
The Brazilian’s selection is quite difficult to justify given that he won two out the three finals in which he represented AC Milan, keeping out three penalties in the shoot-out against Juventus in 2003 – though Dida was almost close enough to the the Juve players to smell their breath as they struck their spot-kicks. Despite representing Milan for a decade, Dida rarely gave the impression that he was actually any good. He was laidback, but almost too much – he lacked the type of presence top goalkeepers display and dropped more than the occasional b*llock.


RB: Fabio (Manchester United)
As so often happens with footballing brothers, Manchester United fans were told for a while after Rafael’s debut that ‘this kid is good, but his brother is even better’. It wasn’t true when we heard it about the Nevilles, nor was it any more accurate in reference to the Da Silvas. Fabio was certainly Phil to Rafael’s Gary. Being slightly more defensively-minded, it was Fabio who got the nod to start the 2011 final against Barcelona’s front three of David Villa, Lionel Messi and Pedro. He wasn’t to know it, but Fabio’s United career had already peaked by then. The pinnacle came in an FA Cup quarter-final win over Arsenal in which he started on the left wing, with his brother on the right and John O’Shea and Darron Gibson in the centre. Fabio scored as United won 2-0, and Arsene Wenger should have been sacked in the tunnel after losing to that midfield.


CB: Oleguer (Barcelona)
Oleguer was certainly a character, but as he showed against Arsenal in 2006, he wasn’t up to much as a defender. The Barca defender was given a torrid time by Freddie Ljungberg in Paris and lost Sol Campbell when the Arsenal centre-back headed the Gunners in front. Oleguer was hooked with 20 minutes to go, with his replacement Juliano Belletti scoring the winner. Oleguer somehow earned himself a Spain call-up, though the defender was willing to look that particular gift horse in the mouth owing to his political views.


CB: Roque Junior (Milan)
The former AC Milan centre-half has both World Cup and Champions League winners’ medals, which is frankly ridiculous. It is not fair to judge Roque Jr just on one atrocious loan spell at Leeds, but the appalling standard of his performances in the Premier League make it extremely difficult to do otherwise. The Brazilian came off the bench to replace Alessandro Costacurta – some swap, that – with 20 minutes remaining, but Roque Jr was back there only seven minutes into extra-time, leaving his Milan to play out the remaining 23 minutes with ten men.


LB: Djimi Traore (Liverpool)
The left-back retains legendary status on Merseyside, not because he was a decent player but because fans – of all clubs – still struggle to believe that a team with Traore as the starting left-back went on to be crowned European champions. Traore finished the final in Istanbul a hero after clearing off the line at 3-3, though he had already given Milan a helping hand with their first goal.


RW: Jermaine Pennant (Liverpool)
Another former Liverpool winger who failed to fulfil his potential, though Pennant’s issues were more psychological than physical. More than anything he did on the pitch, the thing Pennant is most famous for is leaving a Porsche to collect five months’ worth of parking fines at Zaragoza railway station, reportedly forgetting he owned it. We’ve all done it.


CM: Anderson (Manchester United)
Few players had more second chances or false dawns at Manchester United than Anderson, who was one of the few players to have his Old Trafford career extended by injuries. The Brazilian was brought on in the final minute of extra-time before scoring a penalty in the triumph over Chelsea in Moscow, but Sir Alex Ferguson gave Anderson a start against Barcelona in Rome in 2009. Against Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, Anderson unsurprisingly couldn’t keep up and was hooked at half-time.


CM: Flavio Conceicao (Real Madrid)
The Brazilian midfielder was purchased for £20m to fill the void created by Fernando Redonado’s departure at Real Madrid, but came nowhere close to performing that task. Conceicao was a substitute during his three years at the Bernabeu but, with 44 international caps, he was just one of a long line of individuals who proved you don’t necessarily have to be any good to play for Brazil.


LW: Harry Kewell (Liverpool)
Another tale of injury woe, Kewell was one of the most disappointing signings in Liverpool’s modern history only because everyone knew what he was capable of. His mind and body were not up to the task of supporting his obvious talent. Kewell had to deny chucking it in after being subbed 23 minutes into Liverpool’s famous win over AC Milan, with the Reds 1-0 down at the time. You could forgive fans for being suspicious – the Australian started three cup finals for Liverpool and did not make it through a single one.


CF: Carlos Alberto (Porto)
Carlos Alberto scored the opener for Jose Mourinho’s side in their 3-0 win over Monaco in 2004, but that was about all the Brazilian managed during his time in Europe. Porto sold him back to Brazil seven months after that final and only a year after signing him. His behaviour back home and subsequent return to Europe as Werder Bremen’s record signing proved Porto to have been correct. He made only two appearances for Bremen, with insomnia apparently an issue.


CF: Jon Dahl Tomasson (Milan)
The Denmark striker was a trier, which is more than can be said for many of his teammates here. What he lacked in natural talent he almost made up for in application, and quite frankly, he’s pretty unlucky to make this XI. Tomasson notched 35 goals in 113 appearances for Milan – an impressive record for a striker who lacked pace and strength. The Newcastle flop was always most at home in Eredivisie, though, which isn’t necessarily a compliment.



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