Who joins Salah, Van Dijk and Gerrard in combined Liverpool XI from 2005 and 2018 Champions League finals?

Matt Jones - Editor 21:13 26/05/2018
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Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Jordan Henderson. They’ve been essential elements in Liverpool’s run to this season’s Champions League final.

But as the Reds go for a sixth European crown and a first in 13 years against Real Madrid, how many of Jurgen Klopp’s contingent would get in Rafa Benitez’s side that won number five in 2005?

Sure, there were some suspect players in the team that claimed victory in arguably the most dramatic Champions League final in history.

But you could not question their character as they staged a thrilling fightback from 3-0 down against a supremely talented AC Milan at half-time, before somehow emerging victorious on penalties.

Here, Matt Jones picks his combined Liverpool XI from both finals.

UCL Liverpool combined XI

GK Jerzy Dudek > Loris Karius

Who can forget the bendy-kneed antics of the Pole in the shootout? Dudek was a solid rather than spectacular stopper, but he earned a place in club folklore for his performance in the final. First of all, for mimicking iconic Liverpool keeper Bruce Grobbelaar’s “spaghetti legs” antics from the shootout in the 1984 final against Roma, and then saving from initially Andrea Pirlo and then, crucially, Andriy Shevchenko. An underrated effort on the night was his fantastic double save from Shevchenko in extra-time.

RB Steve Finnan > Trent Alexander-Arnold

Another cult figure among Liverpool fans. The Irishman was a manager’s dream. What he lacked in ability he made up for with relentless energy and workrate. A decade earlier he had been playing non-league football. He joined Liverpool aged 27 from Fulham and made 217 appearances over the following five years. He was actually forced off at half-time in the final and missed Liverpool’s three goals as he was getting treatment from physio Dave Galley.

CB Jamie Carragher > Dejan Lovren

Some may say Carragher comes up short against the more elite centre-backs of his generation, but if ever you wanted a man beside you in the trenches, he would be your choice. Fearless and ferocious, he never shirked a job or was found wanting in a fight. Many give the credit for the Miracle of Istanbul to Steven Gerrard or Dudek, but Carragher’s contribution cannot be ignored. A true Liverpool hero.

CB Virgil van Dijk > Sami Hyypia

The first player from the current crop to make the grade and he goes straight into the team. He may have only been at Anfield since January but his impact has been almost immediate, bringing a calmness and structure to an otherwise brittle Liverpool backline. Much was made of the £75m price tag when his protracted move from Southampton was finally completed. But it will have been money well spent if he manages to shackle Cristiano Ronaldo and Co in Kiev.

0118 Virgil Van Dijk

LB Andrew Robertson > Djimi Traore

One of, if not the, shrewdest signing of the season in the Premier League. The young Scotsman has added guile and craft down Liverpool’s left, with his crossing a real asset for Liverpool. And in a defence that hasn’t always been so solid, Robertson has shone. Worked on the tills at Marks & Spencer and for the Scottish FA before hitting the big time, Robertson once said a highlight had been ‘I once showed Vincent Kompany to his seat’ during a Scotland v Belgium game. On Saturday he’ll be hoping to usher Real Madrid’s players down some blind alleys. Oh, and even if he had been terrible this season, he’d still get in ahead of disaster-prone Traore.

CM Steven Gerrard > Gini Wijnaldum

Not even up for debate, is it? A Liverpool legend and one of the greatest midfielders England has ever produced carried his club throughout his career. Ever reliable, he put his team on his shoulders once again at half-time at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in one of the singularly greatest displays from a captain of an English club in Europe. Gerrard powered in John Arne Riise’s cross nine minutes into the second half to get Liverpool back in it and then won the penalty from which Xabi Alonso equalised. It was his sheer drive and desire that sparked a remarkable Reds’ revival.

Stevie G

CM Xabi Alonso > Jordan Henderson

Silky and smooth, although it was the Spaniard’s less-heralded grit and guts that were on show 13 years ago. A player with such poise and presence took the penalty at 3-2 down, and reacted rapidly to it being saved by Dida to get to the rebound first and smash in to level the tie. Henderson is unlucky to miss out but Alonso could not only put in a shift, but oozed class in Liverpool’s engine room.

CM James Milner > John Arne Riise

Mr Consistency has enjoyed a superb season and resurrected his career as a midfielder, having so often filled in at full-back or fulfilled any task asked of him by Klopp. Will play a crucial role in nullifying the attacking threat of Luka Modric and Isco but has also shone as an attacking force in 2017/18. Has nine assists in the Champions League breoke the tournament record set by Neymar in 2016/17. That total is three more than Real Madrid’s entire midfield of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Isco, Marco Asensio and Casemiro have managed between them.

FW Mohamed Salah > Luis Garcia

The proverbial no brainer. The Egyptian has broken records left, right and centre this season, smashing the Premier League scoring record for a 38-game season with 32 goals. He’s been talismanic in Europe too, his 10 goals joint second alongside teammate Roberto Firmino and only inferior to Ronaldo. Scored the crucial equaliser on the night in the second-leg of the quarter-final against Manchester City that got Liverpool over the line and was rampant against former side Roma in the first-leg of the semi-final as he scored two and added two assists.

FW Roberto Firmino > Milan Baros

Has enjoyed a rather prolific season in his own right, but happens to be Salah’s teammate. Has as many goals in Europe as the Reds’ poster boy which is only five fewer than his Premier League tally. Can hurt you with goals or his superb link-up play and will ensure the Madrid defence can’t focus all their attention on Salah. The Brazilian is the complete modern-day striker.

Roberto Firmino

FW Sadio Mane > Harry Kewell

Has gone off the boil but has been great in patches, and his pace and trickery is still enough to warrant a space in the front three ahead of injury-prone Kewell, who had to be replaced after 23 minutes of the final 13 years ago. This Liverpool attacking triumvirate is more than the sum of its individual parts and despite his sporadic form the Senegal star still has nine goals in Europe this season (one fewer than Salah and Firmino) and two assists.

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