1 – Loris Karius
I’m not the biggest fan, but I would take the Liverpool keeper over Navas. It’s hard to understand why a team like Madrid haven’t gone and signed a world class goalkeeper since Iker Casillas left. Navas is a good shotstopper, but you’ll find ten of those out of the Championship. It’s a close-run thing, but I would take Karius.
2 – Danny Carvajal
It has to be Real Madrid full-back simply because Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has been outstanding in general, has made a few mistakes. It’s what you do when you’re his age, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I would take Carvajal because he’s so much more experienced. Give it 18 months and I could see it being completely different.
3 – Sergio Ramos
He’s a really, really clever player who is very good at stopping other teams play. He’s a master of the dark arts, he’ll take a yellow for the team, and he’ll nick you a goal at the other end as well. He’s an organiser at the back too, both for Madrid and Spain, so you have to take him.
4 – Virgil Van Dijk
He’s just a really super player. He’s really improved Liverpool and he’s just got everything you want in a centre-half.
5 – Marcelo
I have to go for the Brazilian here, as good as Andy Robertson has been. “Left back” is a bit misleading in Marcelo’s case though, because he’ll get and make goals too. People often say he’s not great defensively, but I don’t see many going past him.
6 – Toni Kroos
An absolutely top player. He’s a great passer. He doesn’t do brilliant things in games, he just does everything well all the time. His performance level is so consistent, he passes the ball where his team mates want it, not necessarily where it’s easier for him to play it, which is a real sign of class.
7 – Luka Modric
He complements Kroos extremelly well, as a pair they’re hard to beat, and it’d be difficult to leave him out of any team in the world with his rnge of passing and composure.
8 – Jordan Henderson
Of the last spot you could go for Isco, Milner, Wijnaldum, but I’d have Henderson there and put him covering the two centre-backs with Modric and Kroos ahead of him. The two full-backs would bomb forward, and I’d have Jordan fill the holes and be in position to cover any gaps.
He’s an extremely good athlete. Any questions about his range of passing won’t really matter if he’s alongside Modric and Kroos.
9 – Mohamed Salah
It’s really hard picking the forwards because Liverpool’s three have been so good, but Madrid are strong there as well. Obviously I’d have Salah on the right though, without question.
10 – Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid are so clever with how they use him because they tell him only to run when the ball comes near, he doesn’t need to run back or chase players down, he can preserve his energy for when they get the ball. It means I can’t have Firmino playing centre forward, and I’m really reluctant to do that, but head-to-head, you just can’t leave Ronaldo out.
11 – Sadio Mane
Gareth Bale would be an option here, but he’s hardly started any games recently for Madrid, so I can’t pick him. I could try to squeeze Firmino in here as well, but Mane plays the left-sided role so well, and he comes inside so well too. He chases full-backs all day long, as does Salah.
Their main role in the team is to score and cause mayhem with the ball, but without it those two work extremely hard. He’s been excellent the last few months and was great last season too.
It’s tough leaving Firmino out, and it’s a great debate to have, you could stick Bale in there too, and people might ask why is Henderson there? I could’ve put Bale on the left of a midfield three but he doesn’t play there now. Henderson will close down alleys for people all the time and stop the opposition playing.