CRISTIANO RONALDO and Lionel Messi unsurprisingly got the nod up front in an all-time Uefa XI voted for by fans.
The legendary pair, with a combined 11 Ballon d’Or crowns between them, were joined by Thierry Henry in a deadly front three – but there is only space for one Englishman.
European football’s governing body announced the 50-man shortlist in contention for a place in 2020’s Team of the Year this week.
Fans will get their say in the public vote to determine the final XI.
But supporters have already decided on an all-time XI as Uefa brought together the players selected in the most annual squads.
And it is some team with a selection of the most successful players in the Champions League and European Championships….
GK – Iker Casillas
Getting the vote between the sticks is the legendary Iker Casillas.
Not only did he win three Champions Leagues with Real Madrid and two Euros with Spain but he also holds the all-time record for the number of Champions League appearances on a staggering 177.
RB – Sergio Ramos
Casillas’ team-mate for club and country, Sergio Ramos also won back-to-back European Championships.
But he goes one better on the Champions League tally with four triumphs within five years between 2014 and 2018.
Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos confirmed their status as Real Madrid legends with their success in Europe[/caption]
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CB – Gerard Pique
The first graduate of Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy in the team.
Gerard Pique is also well into the 100 Club for Champions League appearances – four of those coming for Manchester United – as well as three winner’s medals and one European Championship.
CB – Carles Puyol
Pique and Carles Puyol formed a formidable partnership for years at the heart of the Barca defence.
The latter was integral in their 2006, 2009 and 2011 Champions League successes as well as Spain’s 2008 Euro glory.
LB – Philipp Lahm
After four Spaniards, finally we have someone who has not played for Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Philipp Lahm made 112 Champions League appearances for Stuttgart and Bayern Munich – winning the tournament in 2013 – before hanging up his boots in 2017.
CM – Steven Gerrard
The sole representative from England is former Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard may be the only player in the XI not to make 100 Champions League appearances – but he more than left his mark on the competition in 2005 with arguably the most memorable night in its history against AC Milan in Istanbul.
CM – Xavi
Back to the Spanish dominance and unsurprisingly Xavi walks into the side in midfield.
His 151 Champions League appearances spanning 17 years places him third on the current list – and three of those were finals he won with Barcelona and he was an unused sub in the 2006 triumph.
CM – Andres Iniesta
No team with Xavi is complete without his midfield partner Andres Iniesta, who also won the competition four times during his Nou Camp career.
It was his late strike at Chelsea that booked Barca’s place in the 2009 final, while the Xavi-Iniesta pairing combined with equal effectiveness for Spain between 2008 and 2012.
Steven Gerrard captained his boyhood club Liverpool to European glory in dramatic scenes in 2005[/caption]
Barcelona legends Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique all made the team[/caption]
RW – Lionel Messi
The fifth La Masia graduate and the fifth Barcelona legend is, of course, Lionel Messi, another four-time winner of the Champions League and only non-European in the side.
As well as his bonkers goalscoring tally, Messi has been voted into Uefa’s Team of the Year for 11 of the last 12 years – 2013 the missing year.
ST – Thierry Henry
A Barcelona star for sure, but it was at Arsenal that Thierry Henry was at his very best – despite his sole triumph in the competition in 2009 with Messi & Co.
Ironically Henry was left heartbroken by Barca when they came from behind to beat his Arsenal side in the 2006 final – that after Henry’s stunning solo goal against Real Madrid in the Round of 16.
LW – Cristiano Ronaldo
Last but by no means least is Cristiano Ronaldo – arguably the Champions League’s greatest player.
His 131 goals in his first 171 matches in the tournament means he is 13 goals clear of Messi at the top of the pile and just six appearances behind matching Casillas’ record tally. Oh, and he’s won the thing five times as well as the Euros for Portugal.
Thierry Henry scored a stunning solo goal against Real Madrid in 2006 before joining Barca[/caption]
Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two highest scorers in Champions League history[/caption]