Liverpool and Man Utd Champions League winning combined XI
Robbie Purves | March 8, 2016
Liverpool and Manchester United’s history rivalry will see another chapter written, as the foes face up for the first time in European competition
The Merseyside team last tasted European success in 2005, when they famously lifted the Champions League with a truly astonishing comeback against AC Milan. United won their third European Cup in 2008 on penalties in a hard-fought final with Premier League side Chelsea in the pouring Moscow rain. The Red Devils have since been in two Champions League finals, losing both to Barcelona.
As England’s two most successful teams prepare to play the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie this week, Coral looks at the combined XI from both clubs most recent European successes…
Goalkeeper: Jerzy Dudek
Wobble-legged Dudek invoked the spirit of Bruce Grobbelaar in the 1984 European Cup Final.
The Polish keeper started the game relatively unsure but, as the minutes passed by, he grew into the game and emerged a hero – saving two in the shoot-out.
Dudek pulled off vital saves including a double wonder-save, denying Andriy Shevchenko. His stops were later voted the Greatest Champions League moment, amazingly ahead of Zinedine Zidane’s left-footed volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 final and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s injury-time winner against Bayern Munich in 1999.
Edwin van der Sar was by far the more talented keeper, but Dudek put in the superior final performance.
Coral has Dudek’s former team odds-on at 19/20 to beat United when they meet this Thursday.
Right back: Wes Brown
Red Devils defender Brown started the game understandably nervous, but became more comfortable as it wore on.
He was a tremendous influence going forward and showed skill cutting inside, crossing to Cristiano Ronaldo, resulting in a superb headed goal. Overall, Brown put in a decent, solid performance which saw him lift his second Champions League trophy.
Liverpool’s right back during their final, Steve Finnan, was taken off after 46 minutes and was ineffective, as Rafael Benitez was bold enough to go with three at the back in the second-half.
Centre back: Jamie Carragher
Speaking of the Reds’ successful Spanish manager, Benitez moved Carragher into the heart of defence where he would manage 56 appearances in the 2004/05 season with Champions League final partner, Sami Hyypia.
Local lad turned centre back Carragher turned in a warrior-like performance, battling through fatigue and crippling cramp. He was integral to Liverpool’s triumph and made vital tackles in extra-time.
Centre back: Nemanja Vidic
Worked fantastically with Rio Ferdinand, with whom he had a great understanding and formed one of the greatest Premier League partnerships.
Recently retired Serbia centre half Vidic put in a solid display and even began to play with brash confidence towards the 90th minute mark. He was integral in keeping Didier Drogba crowded out – heading over his own bar to deny the Ivory Coast striker.
Left back: Patrice Evra
Evra linked very well with Ronaldo in the first-half to instigate many of United’s attacks but was forced into a more defensive mode as the game went on.
The Frenchman was seldom found wanting in terms of position and enjoyed a superb performance. He also played in four other finals, including last year’s for Juventus in a losing effort to Barcelona.
Liverpool’s left back, Djimi Traore was all at sea during their final.
Central midfield: Paul Scholes
Despite a poor challenge on Claude Makelele early on, the legendary midfielder showed experience and used his supreme passing ability to control parts of the game. Scholes also played in Brown to set up Ronaldo.
Owen Hargreaves also performed well, adjusting to Sir Alex Ferguson’s tactical alterations with ease and brought energy to the side.
Central midfield: Xabi Alonso
Produced some lovely touches and held his nerve to smash home his saved penalty by Dida.
Brilliant Basque Country native Alonso’s goal levelled the score and set up a nerve-racking penalty shoot-out.
Central midfield: Steven Gerrard
After an anonymous first-half, his goal gave Liverpool hope.
In a six-minute stretch the Reds levelled the score from 3-0 down. Gerrard was lauded as the catalyst for the second-half comeback, and was named Man of the Match for his incredible performance.
The game sealed his name in the club’s history amid speculation he would leave the club in the summer of 2005.
Right wing: Wayne Rooney
Current Red Devils and England captain Rooney played on the left wing during their semi-final with Roma, but would start the final on the right with Ronaldo moved from central striker to the flank.
The team’s ability to change individual player roles without compromising their overall shape or understanding, was a huge part of their success.
In the first-half Rooney was quiet, but also showed some magical play nonetheless. His diagonal long-balls to Ronaldo were utterly perfect. The striker sacrificed himself at times, coming deep to make defensive clearances.
Centre forward: Carlos Tevez
Argentina international Tevez showed the hard-work and tenacity that you would expect from the forward, but failed to capitalise when played through – Petr Cech saving two of his attempts that should have been converted.
Liverpool’s forwards, Milan Baros and Djibril Cisse, failed to make any sort of impact in 2005, with both looking rather lost.
Left wing: Cristiano Ronaldo
He netted an absolutely beautiful header to open the scoring – both his positioning and jump were sublime.
Sir Alex deployed star man Ronaldo on the left to terrorise Michael Essien, an out-of-position at right back. It was the prolific Portuguese’s dominance over his makeshift opponent that resulted in United’s goal.
Ronaldo failed to score his penalty in the shoot-out, but deserves his place in the combined XI.
Luis Garcia, Liverpool’s final left winger, missed crucial chances and was wasteful with the ball.