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Left-footed XI vs Right-footed XI: Who would win? 

Lionel Messi (left-footed) and Cristiano Ronaldo (right-footed) duelling for the ball in an El Clasico
Lionel Messi (left-footed) and Cristiano Ronaldo (right-footed) duelling for the ball in an El Clasico
Sai Teja
ANALYST
Modified 10 Jul 2020, 20:45 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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It's often a mystery how players can rely on a particular preferred foot throughout their footballing careers.

Players such as Angel Di Maria and Arjen Robben, for instance, have known to be extremely reliant on their left foot since they broke onto the scene. However, they have had fantastic careers with several trophies across different leagues, including UEFA Champions Leagues. They've also played in World Cup finals.

On the other hand, some players are on the opposite end of the spectrum as they are genuinely ambipedal. They can move either way and use their left or right foot, such as Santi Cazorla, Toni Kroos, Neymar Jr, and more recently, Mason Greenwood.

Due to the variety of players Europe has to offer, the question begs to be asked — what would happen if a left-footed team plays against a right-footed one?

Here, we attempt to construct two full XIs built on players that prefer their left foot and players who rely on their right.


Left-footed XI

Lionel Messi, widely considered to be the best footballer on the planet, leads the left-footed XI
Lionel Messi, widely considered to be the best footballer on the planet, leads the left-footed XI

Goalkeeper: Ederson

Manchester City's Brazilian shot-stopper Ederson Moraes has made headlines for his high-profile errors a few times over the last few years. However, he is a quality goalkeeper and arguably possesses the best distribution of any keeper in Europe. He relies on his left foot to launch counter-attacks with raking passes into the attacking third.

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Defence: Robertson, Laporte, Chiellini, Marcelo

Laporte is arguably only second to Van Dijk in the Premier League
Laporte is arguably only second to Van Dijk in the Premier League

There is a relative dearth of left-footed centre-halves, but among the existing crop, Aymeric Laporte is one of the most reliable defenders in the world. Pep Guardiola hopes to build a defence around the Frenchman because of his immaculate technique on the ball and to win it back from the opponents.

His partner, Georgio Chiellini, is one of the most seasoned defenders of the decade. The veteran Italian is an old-school centre-half whose no-nonsense approach to defending has won plaudits from all over the world. Laporte is a superb passer of the ball and in assured in defence, complementing Chiellini well. The Juventus man is solid in the air and is relentless in the tackle.

Andy Robertson of Liverpool has established himself as one of the premier left-backs in Europe and warrants a place in the XI. The newly-crowned Premier League champion is one of the best attack-oriented full-backs in the world.

His counterpart, Marcelo, needs little introduction. The Brazilian is an era-defining left-back and has set the benchmark for attacking full-backs over the last decade. He has been an integral part of the Real Madrid side that won four Champions League titles in the last decade.


Midfield: Silva, Alaba, Bernardo

David Alaba
David Alaba's versatility would allow him to play seamlessly in midfield

While David Alaba has predominantly played at left-back and central defence in his career, he can slot into the midfield as well. The Austrian played at the base of midfield for his country on many an occasion. Alaba has appeared in midfield in no less than 40 occasions for both Bayern Munich and Austria and is set to be at the base of this midfield.

The two players Alaba will be anchoring the midfield for are Man City's master and apprentice duo David and Bernardo Silva. The Spaniard and the Portuguese do bear a number of resemblances which extend beyond their same last name. They can work in tandem and help knit attacks to elegantly pick apart opposition defences.

David Silva is one of the most successful foreign imports the Premier League has ever seen. He would hope that Bernardo, having learnt from David for over three years now, could take over the mantle as City's left-footed wizard in midfield. The two Silvas form the creative hub of this team.


Attack: Griezmann, Salah, Messi

Mo Salah helped Liverpool lift their sixth Champions League title
Mo Salah helped Liverpool lift their sixth Champions League title

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has risen to become one of the most lethal forwards in world football under Jurgen Klopp. His searing pace, ball control, and composure in front of goal help him beat defenders and find the back of the net regularly. He is the ideal left-footed player to spearhead this attack.

Speaking of ball control and composure, Barcelona's majestic captain Lionel Messi takes up the right-hand side of the attack. The Argentine would perhaps be the first name on the teamsheet and could combine excellently with both Bernardo and Marcelo on the right flank.

His ability to cut in and find spaces in between the lines is unparalleled, and Salah could have a field day playing ahead of Messi. The 33-year-old could drop deeper and allow the two forwards to converge ahead of him as well.

Messi's Barcelona teammate, Antoine Griezmann, rounds off this left-footed attack. The World Cup-winner has had a difficult 2019/20 campaign, but on his day, he is truly a special player. The Frenchman can wreak havoc with Salah as a two-pronged strike force with Messi them. Alternatively, he could drop deeper and combine with David Silva and Robertson.

On paper, the team would look like this:

Left-footed XI
Left-footed XI

Honourable mentions: Paulo Dybala, Gareth Bale, Alphonso Davies, Hakim Ziyech, Angel Di Maria, Jordi Alba


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Published 10 Jul 2020, 20:45 IST
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