Regarded as not just the biggest match in the Spanish football league system but probably the biggest club football match in the world, the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona brings the football world to a standstill every time it’s staged. As one of the biggest events in sport, many footballers are defined by their efforts in this game, so we at Grosvenor Sport have put together our combined XI for the El Clasico of the 2000s. Here’s who makes the team.
Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas, Real Madrid
After breaking through in 1999, Casillas spend the next 15 years of his career as a mainstay between the sticks for Real Madrid, capturing five La Liga tiles and three Champions League trophies while also keeping 264 clean sheets in 725 career games for Madrid, while helping Spain win their first World Cup in 2010.
Right-back: Dani Alves, Barcelona
Having recently turned 37, Alves is one of the most decorated players in football history with 40 career trophies to his name. Of those trophies, 23 of them came during and eight year stretch at the Nou Camp which included three Champions League trophies and six La Liga trophies.
Centre-back: Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid
The 34-year-old has enjoyed a glittering 15-year career at the Bernabeu, scoring 91 goals in 640 appearances for Real Madrid, helping them win La Liga on four occasions and the Champions League four times also. Ramos was also integral in Spain’s four-year stretch where they won Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2021 back-to-back-to-back.
Centre-back: Carles Puyol, Barcelona
Capped 100 times by Spain, Puyol spent his entire 20-year career with Barcelona and is regarded as one of the all-time greats of Spanish football, winning La Liga six times and the Champions League on three occasions.
Left-back: Roberto Carlos, Real Madrid
The 2002 World Cup winner is seen as one of the best dead ball specialists of the modern era, but Carlos was instrument to Madrid’s success in the 2000s, spending 11 seasons at the Bernabeu, scoring 69 goals in 524 appearances while aiding Madrid in the efforts to win four La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies in that time.
Midfielder: Xavi, Barcelona
One of the true modern greats, Xavi spent 20 years at Barcelona between 1995 and 2015 after coming through the academy and won it all with the club, including eight La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies while contributing 85 goals and 184 assists in 769 career appearances for the club.
Midfielder: Andres Iniesta, Barcelona
Alongside Xavi, Iniesta helped form a midfield tandem that would dominate European football for the best part of a decade. In a career which is highlighted by scoring the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, Iniesta won four Champions League trophies during his time with Barcelona.
Midfielder: Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid
Zidane is the only player in this side that has gone on to manage their former team, and the now Real Madrid manager is looking to emulate the success he had during his time at the club. The Frenchman only won La Liga and the Champions League once during his playing career at the Bernabeu, but has already matched that total for league trophies and has three Champions League crowns to his name as a manager.
Right-wing: Lionel Messi, Barcelona
Arguably the greatest player to have ever lived, Lionel Messi’s records at Barcelona will likely never be beaten. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has 627 goals and 261 assists in 718 appearances for Barcelona to date helping them seal four Champions League trophies in the process.
Left-wing: Ronaldinho, Barcelona
During a five-year spell at Barcelona from 2003 to 2008, Ronaldinho asserted himself as the best player in the world, culminating in being awarded the Ballon d’Or in 2005. The Brazilian scored 94 goals in 207 appearances for the club, winning the Champions League in 2005/06.
Striker: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
Despite turning 35, Ronaldo is still going strong, with his best years coming during a nine-year spell at the Bernabeu from 2009 to 2018. In those nine years, Ronaldo tallied 450 goals and 131 assists in 438 games for Real Madrid, winning four Champions League trophies, two La Liga titles and the Ballon d’Or on four occasions.
What do you make of our combined XI, and is there a player we’ve left off that you think deserves to be included? Let us know in the comments below.