WORLD ELEVEN

By Mark Daniell
Nov 3rd, 2006

Like all sports, football has the innate ability to generate thought-provoking, energetic debate. Of course from time to time, these debates can develop into arguments, or perhaps even shouting matches, if the person with whom you are debating seems to be hard of hearing, but whatever form they take, they’re always thought-provoking and energetic. I was having one such debate during the Barcelona game which went something along the lines of:

“Fifa is a great game.”
“Pro Evo’s better.”
“Nah, they’re much the same.”
“No. Pro Evo’s better, it’s no contest, it’s better in every way.”
“Fifa’s the original and I prefer to play with people who aren’t called Beckhom.”
“For playability Pro Evo hopelessly outclasses Fifa. And anyway, think of what they could do with names like Ballack.”
“Fifa”
“Pro Evo”
“Shut your face.”

And so it went on, demonstrating the eloquent musings of the footballing mind… And yet after the match none other than computer graphics were used to prove that Gudjohnsen’s goal was onside.  It occurred to me that such a discussion was not far off the truth, but that instead of an evolution where computer games become more like football, it seems that football is becoming more like a computer game, and nowhere more so than in the fantasy teams that are Barcelona and Chelsea.

Really, without personal prejudices or nationalities getting involved, you’d be hard pushed to put together two more complete sides, even Man U and Real Madrid seem to have their Achilles heels in comparison.  Consequently, it’s no wonder that the rivalry they are developing is as intense as it is: when every match, no matter how incidental, is considered by the players to be a contest to determine the best team on the planet, tempers will naturally run high.  As we saw, alongside skill, pace and strength you’ll find foul play, dives and attempts to influence the referee.  It’s sad to say but at the end of the game, the result is what people remember, regardless of how it was achieved.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning this type of play, I simply mean there’s no mystery as to how things have reached such a point.  And yet they’re not stopping there. Before the game, while Messi was pre-empting the play-acting by dressing up as Hamlet, Ronaldinho announced that was going to give “at least 150%” which suggested that he might bring on a mini-me Ronaldinho or Ronadininho to help him out. Sadly that never happened.

Meanwhile, not wanting to be left out of the equation, Real Madrid have announced that they intend to buy exclusive sponsorship of a Formula 1 car for two races next season, one of which will be the Spanish Grand Prix, in Barcelona. In one move they’ve transposed footballing rivalry into a completely unrelated sport. That’s a low blow.  Imagine if the Australians were to wear Bayern Munich caps when they take on England next month.  That’d cheese off a lot of people.

As with all forms of competition, football teams are pushing every possible vein to gain an advantage over their opponents, so frankly it’s unsurprising that the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea should have such extravagantly big squads.  If you’ve ever played Championship Manager you’ll know that the money is entirely irrelevant, it’s all about the trophies.

And so in football we find ourselves contemplating a sport that’s evolving into a real-life computer game.  Who knows where it’ll end? As far as I can tell, I see only one obstacle to creating the perfect side: when money is no object, the only thing to get in the way is time.

And so after reading about the concept of an all-time fantasy team from Nigel Molesworth, I have compiled my own impregnable side that no amount of money, politics, bungs or tapping up could buy.

 

Goliath

Michael

Romulus 

Remus

Gabriel

The Dalai Lama

G. Khan

San Martín

Beethoven

 Drogba

Napoleon

Goliath between the pipes goes without saying.  You’ve got your classic wing-backs flanking two dogged centre-backs.  A holding midfielder perfect for calming it all down a little.  East midfield governed by Genghis, West by the Liberator. Creativity in the hole and the classic big man little man combo up front. Top that, Roman!

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