Classic AC Milan and Juventus combined XI: Which 90s heroes make the cut?
Classic AC Milan and Juventus combined XI
Italy’s two most successful, and arguably biggest, clubs take part in a clash of the titans this Saturday, as Europe’s darlings AC Milan host domestic juggernauts Juventus at the San Siro.
In a current combined XI of Juve’s successive Scudetto-winning superstars and Milan’s men there would be little contest, with the Old Lady (29/10 to win and both teams score) having won all their last seven Serie A encounters with the Rossoneri.
But, cast your minds back to the 1990s and beyond and it was a much more level playing field, with some of the all-time greats strutting their stuff in Italy. A few even played for both.
So, in honour of the monumental match-up this weekend, Coral experts present our classic AC Milan and Juventus combined XI. Which cult heroes made the cut? And who controversially missed out? There were tough choices all around, so we’ve used Italia ’90 and beyond as our time frame…
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
If there is one looming figure over present Italian football, it is the presence of post protector Buffon, whose achievements in net for Juve are unparalleled on the pitch by modern keepers.
The goalie’s a great for Italy and Juve and, with seven Scudetti lifted and a World Cup medal in his trophy cabinet, the only thing missing is Champions League success.
Still world class aged 38, the commanding keeper easily beats off competition from AC’s Christian Abbiati and Sebastiano Rossi.
Right back: Gianluca Zambrotta (AC Milan and Juventus)
Zambrotta is tough to beat out for this full back position, having scooped silverware with both Milan and Juve, with a stint at Barcelona sandwiched in between.
The Lombardy native bombing down the flanks was a familiar Serie A sight as World Cup winner Zambrotta spent 13 seasons, including two at Bari, in Italy’s top-flight. It was tough to omit Rossoneri utility star Alessandro Costacurta, but the talented defender was nominally a centre half.
Centre back: Lilian Thuram (Juventus)
With over 140 caps for France and around the same amount of Serie A appearances for Juventus, Thuram was a classy and adaptable centre back who helped Juve to back-to-back Scudetti.
The Guadeloupe-born defender was seriously underrated in our opinion and somewhat controversially edges Ballon d’Or winner Fabio Cannavaro out of our XI. Don’t think Thuram was the better defender? Lets us know your views in the comments section.
Centre back: Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan)
Completing our centre half pairing is, of course, the always classy Nesta. Perhaps the most graceful centre back seen in the modern game, Nesta was a great defender as well as a ball-playing one.
Raising the bar for all who came after his departure from Milan, it’s no surprise that the four-time Serie A Defender of the Year is now a manager at Miami FC, due to his deep tactical understanding.
A serial Champions League and Scudetti winner, it’s tough to find a defender with such a distinguished career. Well, aside from the next man on our list…
Left back: Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)
Likely one of the last great one-club players, Maldini followed in father Cesare’s footsteps to become a Milan legend. With the Rossoneri from youth, Maldini spent almost 25 years, half a decade, in the red and black stripes of the senior side.
Ranked as one of the best defenders of all time, versatile leader Maldini’s medal case contains haul including five Champions League/European cup titles and seven Scudetti crowns. Not bad…
Central midfield: Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan and Juventus)
Anchoring our midfield with his majestic creativity and magician’s feet, is of course deep-lying playmaker Pirlo, who famously played for both plus AC’s fierce rivals Inter Milan.
The Rossoneri’s decision to let the Azzurri international move on to Juventus must rank as one of the greatest transfer mistakes of all time – perhaps behind Inter first letting the schemer cross city lines.
There’s no-one more equipped than two-footed probing passer Pirlo to conduct our attacks, and he’s never needed an abundance of pace to cover the pitch, simply his timing and intelligence.
Our chosen midfield artist’s flair helped Milan (massive outsiders at 40/1 to win the Scudetto this season) to two Serie A titles and as many CLs, while he missed out on the latter with Juve but did pull the strings in a further four league successes.
Central midfield: Didier Deschamps (Juventus)
There’s plenty to pick from when it comes to Pirlo’s partner but, even though this is an imaginary XI, we still require someone to break up play and put in a shift.
Our pick for the plugging role then, is a certain defensive minded Deschamps. The now France manager was a key fixture in five campaigns for the Old Lady, enjoying three triumphs in Serie A and one in the Champions League. Pretty impressive for someone once dubbed the “water-carrier.”
Right wide playmaker: Zinedine Zidane (Juventus)
Zidane may start on the right but has freedom to roam wherever he wants in this nostalgia XI. The drifting architect needs no introduction and is a no-brainer for inclusion into our side. Is Zidane the most guileful player to ever grace the pitch?
He may not have chalked up the numbers of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but was arguably more gifted. The visionary attacking midfielder really made his name with Juve, spending five terms with the Turin team and lifting two league titles before his then record transfer to Real Madrid. We’re afraid this means Kaka misses out.
Left Wing: Pavel Nedved (Juventus)
We could use a little width in this team with all the playmaking ability hogging central areas. So, who else but Nedved to go bombing down the wing in this AC Milan and Juventus combined XI?
An oft-forgotten Ballon d’Or winner, “Furia Ceca (Czech Fury)” had boundless energy and a trademark blonde bouffant. Able to stick in a shift on the left flanks defensively as well as offensively due to his incredible engine, Nedved brings the balance, as well as his fair share of curling crosses, goals and assists.
Trequartista: Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)
For the role behind the striker, somewhere between number 10 and centre forward, there can only be dangerman Del Piero.
As the Old Lady’s all-time top scorer with 290 in competitive matches and number one for number of Juventus appearances (though Buffon still has a chance of overtaking, at least in Serie A outings), Del Piero dispatched important goals with delight.
Predatory instincts and ghostly movement make Del Piero a must. He stuck with Juve through thick and thin, even playing in Serie B – but he did get six Scudetti medals and one Champions League trophy out of it.
Centre forward: Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan)
We were stuffed with striker options to lead our line but, with an all-Juve attacking midfield trio we gave Milan marksman Shevchenko the nod.
Goal grabber Filippo Inzaghi, cult hero Hernan Crespo and scoring machine Zlatan Ibrahimovic all had to miss out. But, it’s tough to think of a centre forward quite like Shevchenko, who was both ruthless and elegant with a range of finishing.
Chelsea blues aside, he was a monster for Milan and there was only one season for the Rossoneri in which he failed to hit double figures (aside from a brief loan return) and 127 goals in 208 league appearances is lethal.
For more on Italian football, our Serie A section is the place to be.
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