International Under-25 XI – who’s your pick?

This is an article I’ve wanted to write for a while now, and am unfortunately slightly late on.

I missed the window on Kaka, who would clearly be in the lineup. However I am writing it now because I don’t want to miss the window on perhaps the most important member of this team, Petr Cech, who turns 25 in less than a week.

Choosing this squad was not an easy task, especially in the midfield. There are many options for attacking midfielders and wing players, such as Arjen Robben, Aaron Lennon and Franck Ribery, as well as forward/strikers like Robinho, Robin van Persie, Fernando Torres and Lukas Podolski. Selection was based on their current form, as well as how much promise they show.

This is a very attacking oriented team, as all the defenders like to go forward at times, and not a lot of the midfielders play too much defense aside from Essien. That’s why Cech is so important. I think this team would play high-scoring games and be a lot of fun to watch.

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech (Chesea)
Not even 25 and already one of the best in the world. A no-brainer, however, I wonder if he could jazz up that helmet a little, give it some crazy graphics like hockey goalies….

Right Back: Daniel Alves (Sevilla)
I think pretty much any team in top-flight football would love to have him right now. He gets the nod over Micah Richards.

Center Backs: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Alex (PSV)
Both are solid defenders who like to go forward. They have strength, pace and heading ability, and experience beyond their years. They are not exactly unflappable, but more than capable.

Left Back: Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich)
I was impressed with his World Cup performance. He has the pace to be all the way forward whipping in a cross and still get back to defend the break. He plays with a calm professionalism.

Right Wing: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
This was another no-brainer. I would have him take the penalty kicks as well.

Center Midfielders: Michael Essien (Chelsea), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Essien brings some much-needed defensive ability to the midfield. He would do the dirty work that allows the attacking minded players to do what they do best. Plus he’s good for a last-second match winner or two. Cesc would play in front of him distributing the ball to the forwards and wingers. Kaka would have been in this spot, and I considered a more defensive player like Bastian Schweinsteiger, but Cesc gets the nod for his youth, passing ability and tenacity. He would get a lot of assists.

Left Wing: Lionel Messi (Bareclona)
His Maradonna-like performance against Getafe in April sealed his place in this squad for me. Imagine having to defend him on the left and C. Ronaldo on the right…trouble.

Forwards: Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Ajax), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
I did not have to think too hard about Rooney. With these wingers he wouldn’t have to worry about coming back too far either. While Huntelaar has been on fire both this season and last, he plays in the Dutch Eredivisie, which is not quite the Premiership or Liga. However, he does have 2 goals in 2 Champions League games and 7 goals in 7 UEFA Cup games this season – a very encouraging statistic.

So there it is. As I said before, these were not easy choices, and I’d love to hear what others come up with….

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