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Peter Crouch names his greatest XI in UEFA Champions League history

Peter Crouch has picked his Champions League dtream XI
Peter Crouch has picked his Champions League dtream XI
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Diptanil Roy

Former England forward Peter Crouch has picked his greatest UEFA Champions League XI comprising of a mix of retired as well as active players.

He picked Manuel Neuer as his goalkeeper over Gianluigi Buffon. Explaining the decision, Crouch told BT Sports (via Givemesport):

“This is a tough one, I’ve changed a couple of times. I initially went for Gianluigi Buffon, but I’ve gone with Neuer. With Neuer, you’ve got absolutely everything. Someone as commanding, as big, as confident, his positioning… I feel like he’s the best goalkeeper.”

Coming to the defence, Crouch picked two Brazilians in Cafu (right-back) and Roberto Carlos (left-back).

“I’ve played against him (Cafu), and watched him for a long time. His engine… He was ahead of his time. He could still play now.”

On choosing Carlos over Marcelo, Crouch said:

I can’t go for Marcelo; he got me sent off at the Bernabeu! Roberto Carlos is the man I’m going for. Defensively, not as good as Cafu. Offensively, absolutely unbelievable. The free-kicks were an added bonus. The ones he scored were absolutely incredible. Just a talent. Something different to what we see in this country. It’s difficult to leave Ashley Cole out, but Carlos gets it for me.”

Sergio Ramos and Paolo Maldini were Crouch's two preferred centre-backs. Explaining the picks, Crouch said:

“The reason behind Ramos is that he’s a born winner, he’s win at all costs. If I was a manager, or a fan, there is no one I’d rather have at centre-half than Ramos. The amount of Champions League’s he’s won, his CV speaks for himself. A top defender.”

He added about Italy and AC Milan legend Maldini:

“I’ve had the privilege to share the pitch with Maldini. He could play anywhere: centre-half, left-back and be a class act. He was never caught out of position, even when he was playing at 37/38. The timing of the tackles, the reading of the game, just how comfortable he was on the ball. He was a good looking fella to boot as well! When you think of Maldini, he just embodies the Italian national team. Fantastic defensively, very rarely gets beaten and a serial winner.”

The first two names in Crouch's midfield were Barcelona duo Xavi and Andres Iniesta, both of whom won the UEFA Champions League multiple times.

🔵🔴 A display of passing perfection from Barcelona legends Xavi Hernández & Andres Iniesta in the 2009 final. 👌🏆 😎 Who's your favourite & why?#UCL | #TBT | #ThrowbackThursday | @FCBarcelona

About Xavi, he said:

“You could not get near him. You’d get tight to him; it’s one-touch around you. Stand off him; he’s picking 60/70 yard passes and dictating things. Very rarely gave the ball away and played in the best Barcelona team we’ve ever seen.”

Meanwhile, for Iniesta, Crouch added:

“His control was effortless. Everything he did was on the turn, on the swivel; he was constantly moving it. He could go past people; he could dictate. What he had more than Xavi was the ability to ghost past people and get goals. He was a real joy to watch.”

Crouch chose his former club and country captain Steven Gerrard in his dream Champions League XI as well. Hailing the 2005 Champions League winner, Crouch said:

“I had the privilege to play with him at Liverpool and England as well. He was incredible in the tackle. I remember him when he was 16/17, I played against him as Spurs lodge. He crunched into this tackle on me on the edge of our box, ran the pitch and hit this shot against the crossbar, the hardest shot I’ve ever seen. He made his debut shortly after that."

Crouch added:

“He played off the right and won PFA Player of the Year. He could do anything. He could pass, head, tackle… He won games on his own. He was an absolute genius. An amazing player and a great character. The influence on me was so big. I found myself trying to impress Stevie more than Rafael Benitez! I worked every day to impress him.”

His final midfielder was Zinedine Zidane, who has won the UEFA Champions League both as player and manager. Crouch said:

“Absolute genius. He was someone I loved watching. Just effortless style. He looked lazy, but he was quick, strong and hard in the tackle. Probably the most gifted footballer… up there with Diego Maradona and players like that. Comfortable in possession. He gets you off your seat with 1/2 touches, the flicks, the tricks, everything had an end product. Some big goals in big games.”

Crouch picks Messi and Ronaldo in his dream Champions League XI

The Champions League era has been graced by several fine players. However, few have come close to the dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - both of whom made Crouch's team.

About Messi, he said:

“Lionel Messi picks himself. For me, he’s the best that’s ever lived. As a footballer, as a technician, as someone who goes past you and excites you and scores the goals that he’s done, there’s no-one better.”

Meanwhile, about the Champions League's all-time top-scorer Ronaldo, Crouch added:

“He’s the greatest goalscorer that’s ever lived, and that’s fact. He went from being a bit of a show-pony to developing into a relentless goalscorer. To go from that to bang: 40 goals a season every year, minimum, for however long he’s done it is unbelievable.”
ℹ️ Goals in the knockout rounds:⚽️6⃣2⃣ Cristiano Ronaldo⚽️4⃣0⃣ Lionel Messi #UCL https://t.co/fkfK1krCby

It's tough to imagine a team that would beat this hypothetical XI in the Champions League.


Edited by Bhargav
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