How a Rest of the World XI Would Line Up Against the Best Europe Has to Offer

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FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga

A Rest of the World XI, heavily reliant on the attacking flair of South America, would certainly be an exciting prospect.

While perhaps not as defensively solid as a hypothetical Europe XI, the pool of attacking talent on offer for the Rest of the World side means they would certainly have a chance of repeating the success of the 1997 side that beat the Europe XI 5-2.

Here we look at those that have made the cut for the Rest of the World XI, with Barcelona and Real Madrid heavily represented.

1. GK – Keylor Navas

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The best goalkeeper outside of Europe is perhaps not the most competitive category, but Keylor Navas is surely the obvious choice.

He has been first-choice at Real Madrid ever since Iker Casillas’ departure and a potential swap deal with David de Gea fell through, and the Costa Rican has impressed over the last two seasons.

Navas is quick, good with his feet and, unlike many of his South American counterparts, is an excellent shot-stopper.

2. RB – Dani Alves

SS Lazio v Juventus FC - TIM Cup Final

When Dani Alves left Barcelona in June 2016, it appeared his stellar career was coming to an end and he would retire after a couple of gentle years at Juventus.

Instead, Alves had a brilliant season in Turin and was the subject of interest from Manchester City and PSG this summer, with the Brazilian eventually choosing Paris.

Incredible going forward, and with enough athleticism to help him defensively, Alves has been in FIFPro’s World XI for six of the last eight years and the 34-year-old is still one of the best full-backs in the world.

3. CB – Diego Godin

Real Madrid CF v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg

Diego Godin has been a crucial part of Atletico Madrid’s recent success domestically and in Europe, typifying the no-nonsense approach implemented by Diego Simeone.

He has been in the Champions League Team of the Season three times in the past years, helping his side to the final of the competition in two of those seasons.

In a team of attacking talent, Godin would provide some much needed defensive pedigree for the Rest of the World XI.

4. CB – Thiago Silva

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In July 2012, Thiago Silva signed for PSG for €42m and while this may not seem much now, it made him the second most expensive defender in history at the time.

A natural leader, Silva is captain of both PSG and Brazil and has led his club to four Ligue 1 titles since his arrival.

He has featured in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season in every year since 2012, and would form a formidable partnership alongside Diego Godin.

5. LB – Marcelo

Juventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final

Much like Alves on the right, Marcelo is far better going forward than he is defensively, though the 29-year-old remains the best left back in the world by some margin.

Deployed as a left winger for the early part of his Real Madrid career, Marcelo cemented himself at left-back under Mourinho in 2010 and has been a permanent fixture in the side ever since.

He has been in the Champions League Team of the Season the past two years as he’s helped Madrid to consecutive triumphs and is an obvious choice for the Rest of the World XI.

6. CM – Casemiro

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While Brazil has a long history of producing incredible attacking talent, Casemiro is a rare breed of player that provides boring things such as balance and stability.

At Real Madrid since 2013, the player found himself on loan at Porto in 2014/15 as Real Madrid managers ignored the need for any form of defence.

The arrival of Zinedine Zidane signalled a change in fortune for Casemiro, and he’s been a regular for the past two seasons as he’s become arguably the best defensive midfielder in the world.

7. CM – Arturo Vidal

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Arturo Vidal is one of the most complete midfielders in the world – great stamina, strong in defence, wonderful play-actor and dangerous going forward.

A combative presence in the centre of midfield, Vidal is a real competitor and has won a league title in each of his last six seasons.

He has also helped his country to Copa América triumphs in 2015 and 2016 and his versatility across the midfield means he is essential to a Rest of the World XI.

8. CAM – Angel Di Maria

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While his selection is heavily dependant on Angel Di Maria actually turning up, the Argentine’s ability on his day just about gets him into a Rest of the World XI.

After a disastrous spell at Manchester United, Di Maria joined PSG in 2015 for £44m and immediately showed he was better than his time in Manchester suggested.

He set a record for assists in Ligue 1 in the 2015/16 season, and with Casemiro and Vidal behind him Di Maria would not have to trouble himself with defending.

9. RW – Lionel Messi

FC Barcelona v CA Osasuna - La Liga

Did you expect anything else?

One of the greatest players of all time, Messi has won five Ballon d’Ors and everything there is to win with Barcelona.

He scored a world record 91 goals in the calendar year 2012, the same year he became Barcelona’s record goalscorer at just 24-years-old. Messi would be in any best XI compiled, whatever the criteria.

10. ST – Luis Suarez

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga

Though facing stiff competition from Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez gets into the side for his ability to provide for his teammates while still scoring himself at an incredible rate.

After four seasons at both Ajax and Liverpool, Suarez moved to Barcelona ahead of the 2014/15 season and has since scored 121 goals in 147 games.

As long as he avoids accidentally falling into defenders with his mouth open in an action which most definitely isn’t a bite, Suarez is as good a striker as any in the world.

11. LW – Neymar

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It’s an all Barcelona front three for the Rest of the World XI, as Neymar joins Messi and Suarez to complete an incredible front three.

That Alexis Sanchez doesn’t make the team is testament to Neymar’s quality, and the Brazilian’s time as the best in the world will surely come when Ronaldo and Messi eventually retire.

He single-handedly hauled Barcelona past PSG last season in a remarkable second leg, and his partnership down the left wing with Marcelo would be too good for any side.

Source: 90min

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