How well would a team containing prime Dietmar Hamann, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard, as well as Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane do? We’ll never know but chances are they’d give Manchester City a run for their money at the top of the Premier League – after all, the first three won the Champions League with Liverpool and the last three reached the final in 2018.
When talking about a combined XI of the players from 2005 and 2018, those six are pretty much no-brainers. The midfield of 13 years ago bests today’s by some distance, and the attacks aren’t even comparable. Rafa Benitez started in Istanbul with Milan Baros up front, supported by Harry Kewell – combined, they scored fewer in their entire Liverpool career than Salah did on his own in 2017-18.
But what about the other five players? Betting.net, when coming up with a full team plus manager, were faced with some difficult decisions. Jerzy Dudek in goal, to recognise his penalty shootout heroics over Loris Karius? Perhaps, but it’s not as if the Poland international was Mr. Reliable either. Alisson, signed in the aftermath of Liverpool’s defeat in Kiev, might one day overtake them both but he wasn’t in contention here.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has made the right-back spot his own but Steve Finnan was arguably one of the unheralded players of his day. In defence, Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher were true leaders of their generation, each captaining the club on numerous occasions and serving with distinction. Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk might reach their status in the future, but not yet. And at left-back, Andrew Robertson is one of today’s most dangerous players, but John Arne Riise was a crowd favourite with a booming left foot.
It’s no easier on the bench – Benitez won trophies while the only thing Klopp has won is plaudits. But it’s undeniable that the German’s team is more entertaining than the Spaniard’s. But the choice was made – and whoever managed this team, they’d surely claim all the silverware there is to claim.
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