My European Dream Team – Joe Tilley
Now, remember there’s a little series going on where guest writers are invited to put forward what would be their “dream team” consisting of only European players? Well, here’s the third in the series, where Joe Tilley has selected eleven players – all from Europe – to play together in his dream team.
As you may know, if you’ve been following him on twitter, Joe Tilley is an Arsenal fan. He’s a smart lad. And at 15 years old, I think he’s the chosen one. So, without further ado, I present to you, Joe Tilley’s European Dream Team:
Formation – 4-4-2
Yeah, I’m a traditionalist. My European dream team will be structured with a classic four four two style that seems to be a dying art in modern day football. If it worked for decades before all this tampering and tinkering with formations, why swap now? Anyways, I’m moving off the point. As one of the younger footballing fans, my European dream team will mainly consist of players from the last ten years, so don’t blow a fuse when you see I haven’t included Platini or Cruyff.
GK – Gigi Buffon
There isn’t really any other choice is there? Growing up, there was no room for debate about the best goalkeeper in the world. It was always Buffon and he was so good, no other team in the world could even dream of prising him away for Juventus. It’s only in the last few years with the true globalisation of football on television and in the media that I have been able to appreciate his talents as one of the best shot stoppers in the world and placing anyone else in the goalkeeping slot for a dream team would just feel wrong. Except one Martin Fulop perhaps.
RB – Philipp Lahm
The suitably nicknamed ‘Magic Dwarf’ who is still only 28, is undoubtedly one of the finest full-backs the modern game has witnessed. He combines tough, precise tackling with an impressive ability to attack and score goals a striker would be proud of and he has the enviable habit of producing it in major international tournaments. The Bayern Munich captain, who I’m still not sure of where his natural position is, was in the team of the tournament for both the 2006 and 2010 world cups and has helped Germany develop in to the frightening force they are today. Honourable mentions go to Bacary Sagna, who just missed out.
CB – Laurent Koscielny
So some of my Arsenal bias will seep through a little here, but I don’t believe the affectionately nicknamed ‘Bosscielny’ would look out of place in a star-studded line up like this. The French centre back has improved leaps and bounds in the past year after the horrors of the Carling Cup final to become one of the best centre backs in the league. He is quick, strong and has become a master in the art of last ditch challenges. It’s no surprise Barcelona are rumoured to be interested in his services but thankfully, he looks all but set to secure a three year contract extension. [Since Joe wrote this piece, Koscielny has actually extended his contract]
CB – John Terry
So this will be a controversial one. Off the pitch he may be an adulterer. On the pitch he has been accused (do I have to say wrongfully now?) of racist comments. However, footballing wise, he is a fantastic defender. Regardless of your opinion of John Terry, he always gives 100% for his side and his ability to read and intercept play is admirable. He shines in what is now an average Chelsea defence and I thought he was terrific at the Euros for England alongside Joleon Lescott and no matter how he will be remembered for his off field antics, he will always have to be regarded as a top notch defender. I still despise him though, of course.
LB – Ashley Cole
Again, this could be controversial. The man hated by the majority of Arsenal fans because he ‘nearly crashed his car when only offered £35,000 a week’ isn’t the most popular of figures in football but he is still a brilliant footballer. He is one of the few full backs to consistently deliver for club and country and although he normally makes the headlines for all the wrong reasons, his commitment and ability on the pitch should not be overlooked. He is, in my opinion, the best left-back in the world at this moment in time.
RM – Luis Figo
Before the horrific television advertisements, Luis Figo was actually a half decent footballer. I am lucky to remember seeing glimpses of him at his best and his ability at times was second to none on a football pitch. The ex footballer of the year was the pin up boy for Portuguese football and his impressive career saw him pull on the shirt of both Real Madrid and Barcelona. Skilful, a pin-point passer and at times an incredible finisher. A phenomenal player.
CM – Patrick Vieira
Before his switch to the dark side at Manchester City, Patrick was an Arsenal legend and some of my earliest footballing memories are him running the show in the invincible season. The man who joined Arsene Wenger’s French revolution at Arsenal was immensely talented with a surprising amount of pace in his prime, combined with superb vision and a cracking shot. It’s a shame injuries and fatigue took a toll on his career so early but nevertheless, he was a stunning player.
CM – Cesc Fabregas
Again, of course I am biased but Cesc Fabregas is without a doubt the best player I have ever seen live. He sees thing no one else in the stands, let alone on the pitch, sees and despite the disappointing way he left Arsenal, I will never stop admiring him as a footballer. His commitment and performances never wavered from top class and now seeing him do so well for Barcelona almost makes me feel proud. A poster boy for the current brand of Spanish football and a player I will never tire of watching.
LM – Cristiano Ronaldo
After some deliberation, I opted not to punt for Stewart Downing and instead for Cristiano Ronaldo. I couldn’t really leave him out. As a footballer he has everything. Pace, strength, skill and just as much arrogance to go along with it. Not the most liked player in football but the fact he gets mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi for the best player in the world is a credit to him. Since his mega move to Madrid he has come on leaps and bounds and he is probably the biggest factor that contributed to their league win last season. A phenomenal player who will most likely continue to improve.
ST – Antonio Di Natale
I am a firm believer in the idea that your striker is the player whose sole objective to score goals. I don’t think they should drop deep and look to join in the midfield battle. No. In my traditional 4-4-2, strikers will remain as strikers and I don’t think there is any other striker in the world more deadly in front of goal than Di Natale. The man who has 135 goals in 264 league appearances has a lethal eye for goal that all young players should aspire to replicate. Even at the ripe old age of 34, he is capable of changing a game in an instant as he showed with his beautifully taken goal at Euro 2012 against Spain. A great, great striker.
ST – Thierry Henry
Of course he had to be here. The man I worshipped growing up and in my view, easily the best Premier League striker ever. Pace, power, skill, vision, finishing. There was nothing to fault about Henry’s game when he was at his prime. The winger turned striker was the figurehead for a superb Arsenal side in the early 2000s and he scored some of the best goals I have ever seen. His cameo return to Arsenal in 2012 further enhanced his legend status and reinforced the idea that he is one of the best players English football has ever seen. Nothing will ever beat the euphoria created from his returning goal against Leeds. Never.
Don’t forget to follow Joe on twitter @Tilley_96. Hope you enjoyed the article, and enjoy your weekend.