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Greatest La Liga XI of all time

Check out the greatest La Liga XI of all time. Over the years the very finest names in world football have always had an uncanny ability to find their way to La Liga and compete against each other in the Spanish top flight.

Last updated: 21.09.2022
Greatest La Liga XI of all time

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Over the years the very finest names in world football have always had an uncanny ability to find their way to La Liga and compete against each other in the Spanish top flight.  The trend saw a dominance of Real Madrid and Barcelona with the likes of Lionel Messi forming iconic rivalries with Cristiano Ronaldo, following in the footsteps of Alfredo Di Stefano and Johan Cruyff Flicking back through the eras.

Goalkeeper – Iker Casillas

Iker Casillas or ‘San Iker’ as he is popularly known is one of the greatest ever goalkeepers of our generation. Although Casillas had a few unsure moments towards the end of his career at Real Madrid, football aficionados will remember the time when scoring against Casillas was almost an impossible task. In his prime, he was an athletic keeper, known in particular for his outstanding speed, agility, reflexes, consistency and shot-stopping, as well as his positioning, concentration, penalty-saving and leadership.


Although there have been some great goalkeepers in La Liga history like Ricardo Zamora, Victor Valdes and Canizares, none of them have been able to show as much consistency, longevity and excellence as that of Iker Casillas.



Left-back – Roberto Carlos

Roberto Carlos was easily one of the greatest Brazilian footballers of all time. Blessed with a thunderous left foot, unbelievable stamina and an eye for scoring spectacular goals, Roberto Carlos’ performances were so good for Real Madrid that he even almost won the World Player of the year award in 1997 and 2002 finishing second behind his countryman Ronaldo on both occasions.


Center-back – Fernando Hierro

For composure on the ball when under pressure it has to be Gerard Pique or Fernando Hierro. Hierro is still Spain's most prolific defender in terms of goals scored, with 29 in international football. Iron by name (the literal translation of his surname) and by nature, nothing got past him and he won five leagues and three European Cups. Pique has the same combination of defender's brain and midfielder's soul. Hierro gets the nod.


Centre back – Carles Puyol

Former Barcelona captain, Carles Puyol makes the team as one of the two center-backs at the heart of the defense. A firm fan favorite for his fighting displays, Puyol always gave more than a 100% every time he played for Barcelona and Spain.

Regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation, Puyol was known for his commanding presence in the air, his composure on the ball, and his intense commitment and ruggedness. According to Barcelona's head doctor, he was "the strongest, who has the quickest reactions, and who has the most explosive strength."


Right back – Dani Alves

The 33-year-old has arguably championed his position, often dubbed as one of the finest full-backs the game has ever seen.

Look past his comical appearances off the pitch and Dani Alves is an intimidating force that can tie down agile wide men, meanwhile tormenting his opposing number with marauding runs and a fiery right boot. The defender saw the rise and end of the Guardiola empire and was one of the most consistent performers during the spell. One of the most decorated players in the world.



Right midfield - Johan Cruyff

Madrid fans of a certain age say Kopa, the full name Raymond Kopaszewski, was intelligence personified, winning three European Cups in just four years at Real Madrid in the fifties. It's tempting to take their word for it and pick the Ballon d'Or winner from 1958. Or to go with Xavi, who never won the Golden Ball but in 17 seasons won 25 trophies and almost never gave the ball away. But how can Johan Cruyff be left out of this team? Mr. Total Football could play anywhere in this XI.


Center midfield – Zinedine Zidane

The great man had the poise of a ballerina and the hard edges of a prizefighter. He could have played in any position. He operated for much of Madrid’s career-wide left in a 4-4-2 formation. But he was still good enough to do everything the manager had asked of him in that position and still end up in the No 10 position whenever he fancied it.


Left midfield - Alfredo Di Stefano

Di Stefano, just like Cruyff and Zidane could have been picked in almost any position. Those who watched the black and white era, Messi, in live Technicolor say he was capable of winning the ball at one end of the pitch and carrying to the other end with the right mix of dribbling and passing before dispatching past the opposition keeper. He gets in ahead of Michael Laudrup who glided through games for both Real Madrid and Barcelona.


Right forward – Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi can play wherever he wants to but let's have him at least starting on the right of the front three. Rivaldo would also have been an option here. A bicycle kick from the edge of the area in the last minute of the season to qualify Barcelona for the Champions League as he did against Valencia in 2001 is one of the few things Messi hasn't yet done. Ferenc Puskas was another under consideration. But they both miss out as history's finest takes his place.



Striker – Ronaldo

The standard is so high here that the likes of Raul, Romario, Samuel Eto'o, and Hugo Sanchez don't even come close. Ronaldo in his 1996 form would strike fear into any rival defense. To paraphrase Sir Bobby – with both Ronaldos in the team we might need two balls.


Left forward - Cristiano Ronaldo

Another very tough decision: Cristiano Ronaldo or Ronaldinho? This is fantasy football and Ronaldinho was the ultimate fantasy footballer. But who doesn't want to see how Ronaldo would fare in this team. Ronaldinho would have to come on for him in the last half hour. No one would leave early if that happened every week. Ronaldo deserves his place.




Andoni Zubizarreta – Won two leagues with Athletic Bilbao before being part of Barcelona's first European Cup success

Andres Iniesta – Played in the rain without getting wet.

Ferenc Puskas - Scored 242 goals in 262 games for Real Madrid despite being 31 when he joined.

Ronaldinho - Impossible to leave out completely.

Ronald Koeman – Another who could come on in more than one position and be world-class

Diego Maradona – Never shone in Spain the way he did for Napoli and for his country but he can cut the oranges after juggling each one right foot, left foot, both knees, both shoulders, head.

Rivaldo – Fondly remembered by Deportivo fans as well as Barça ones. No one is better for a late match-winning, season-saving bicycle kick.

Manager: Pep Guardiola

The trophies speak for themselves: three La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues, two FIFA Club World Cups, and all in just four years in charge. But his side also produced a brand of football that went beyond just silverware.


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