World Cup 2010: Reds XI vs. Ex-Reds XI

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Well that’s the world cup over for another four years, and that’s either good or bad depending on your point of view. I don’t have a lot of interest in international football myself – I’d rather watch Liverpool play in European competition as far as “international” competition goes than watch either the World Cup or the Euros. That’s my opinion, and I don’t mind at all if you disagree.

But, saying that I don’t have a lot of interest in it doesn’t mean that I don’t watch any of it. In fact, I watched almost every match of this year’s competition, and can honestly say that I enjoyed most of them. What allows for more enjoyment in my case is not having to suffer the disappointment of watching “my” team/country be humiliated on a global scale, and become a laughing stock for the rest of the world (no matter if those nations doing the laughing weren’t even there).

So, not having a particular favourite to cheer for, my obvious choice is to cheer for any team that has a Liverpool player on the field, and if both sides do then I’ll go with the one that has more, or who play more, or if everything is even on that score then I don’t mind who wins, as either way it’s then guaranteed that a Liverpool player will be celebrating success. Such was the case in the final between Holland and Spain. Holland had Dirk Kuyt on the pitch to start the match, with Ryan Babel on the bench, and meanwhile, Spain had both Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina on their bench but no Liverpool player in the starting eleven. So obviously my choice was Holland from the kick-off, but when Kuyt came off and Torres came on, my allegiance suddenly switched to Spain, who went on to win as I’m sure you know by now (and if not then welcome back from wherever you’ve been hiding).

July 11, 2010 - Johannesburg, S  dafrika - Pepe Reina of Spain celebrates with the trophy after the 2010 FIFA World Cup final match between the Netherlands and Spain at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa 11 July 2010. Photo: Bernd Weissbrod dpa - Please refer to http://dpaq.de/FIFA-WM2010-TC +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk.

In all seriousness, all I hope for during a World Cup or any such international competition, is that any Liverpool players come through uninjured, don’t get too fatigued before returning to Liverpool for training, and for some of them I hope they become a better player from the experience.

Record Reds at World Cup

This year Liverpool sent a record number of players to the World Cup, which says something about the international nature of the modern “English” game. We sent a total of twelve players to South Africa 2010 to represent various countries, which is more than the previous record of eight who went to Italia ’90. The Premier League is no longer dominated by British players, but instead each team is made up of players from all over the globe.

Now, anyone who knows me will know that I often play a game of making up squads of Liverpool players with various themes (see past articles for some of those). The revelation that we were sending twelve players to South Africa 2010 immediately had me wondering if I could take those twelve and make up a starting eleven, who would be an international all-Liverpool World Cup squad. The answer is definitely yes!

Starting in goal, we have Pepe Reina (Spain). He’s not the first choice for his country, but he’s definitely a valued member of their squad, and any team would want him there if for nothing other than being a great character.

In defence, we have Glen Johnson (England) at Right Back, Jamie Carragher (England) and Martin Skrtel (Slovakia) in the centre, and I’ll put Daniel Agger (Denmark) over on the left to cover that position which he has done so for Liverpool in the past few months.

In midfield we start with Steven Gerrard (England) and Javier Mascherano (Argentina) in the middle, and then put Ryan Babel (Holland) on the left and Maxi Rodriguez (Argentina) on the right. Up front in attack we have Fernando Torres (Spain) and Dirk Kuyt (Holland).

We still have Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Greece) to sit on the bench, and then we could add our newest Red, Milan Jovanovic (Serbia), if we count him as a Liverpool player before his official signing, and have him available as an extra forward. But, I’ll stick with the twelve and call it quits there.

Familiar Faces

After having watched a few matches these past few weeks, I couldn’t help noticing that there are also quite a few players appearing for various nations who are former Liverpool players. As I said before about the way my mind works, I immediately wondered if there would be enough ex-Reds to make up another starting eleven, and not too surprisingly the answer again is definitely yes!

We can start again in goal with David James (England), and then in defence we have Alvaro Arbeloa (Spain), Rigobert Song (Cameroon), Alou Diarra (France), and Stephen Warnock (England). Again, not all of these players are first choices for their respective countries, but just being there in the squad is a great honour, and that should never be forgotten.

In midfield I’ll start with Xabi Alonso (Spain) in the middle, and then I’ll put Mark Gonzalez (Chile) on the right and Harry Kewell (Australia) on the left to make a three man midfield. Up ahead of them on the front line I’ll take the triple-strike partnership of Nicolas Anelka (France), Peter Crouch (England) and Emile Heskey (England). That then leaves me with Djibril Cissé (France) on the bench as the only sub.

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That’s a total of twenty four players (not counting Jovanovic) who represent no less than eleven countries. All of these players are still appearing regularly for their clubs as well as for their countries, and even those who are ex-Liverpool players were seen at Anfield in recent memory. Well, actually Diarra never played a competitive match for Liverpool, he was out on loan for his two year spell, but we’ll overlook that for now. Between all of the players in the two sides, they have a total of 597 Caps for the current Reds, and a further 582 for the ex-Reds. That’s well over a thousand international appearances between them all, which is pretty impressive if you ask me.

We’ll never know how these teams would fare if they ever managed to play together, or if they ever managed to play against each other. One thing I can almost guarantee is that it would be a much more entertaining match than the majority of the ones that we have just witnessed these past few weeks. For now, I’ll just say congratulations to Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina for their winners’ medals, and also congratulations to Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel for their runner-up medals. It wasn’t the best final I’ve seen, but not the worst one either (that would be USA ’94 which was a snore-fest all the way through to Baggio’s sky ball that handed the trophy to Brazil.

If only it was possible, how much would you be willing to pay to see these two sides in action against each other? I know I’d be willing to pay a lot, and I’m sure most of you would too.

Current Reds XI: Reina, Johnson Carragher Skrtel Agger, Maxi, Mascherano Gerrard Babel, Kuyt, Torres
Sub: Krygiakos

Ex-Reds XI: James, Arbeloa, Song, Diarra, Warnock, Alonso, Kewell, Gonzalez, Anelka, Heksey, Crouch
Sub: Cisse

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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