Tottenham Hotspur vs Real Madrid: A combined XI
Nights do not come much bigger than this. Tottenham Hotspur welcome Spanish giants Real Madrid on Wednesday, knowing a victory would stencil them into the history books and all-but guarantee qualification. Both sides boast an impressive starting XI, but who makes it into a combined line-up?
Manager: Zinedine Zidane
Mauricio Pochettino has done an exceptional job at Tottenham Hotspur, he has helped invigorate a club that was stagnating and transformed a culture of mediocrity into ambition. Yet Zidane's back-to-back Champions League victories and one La Liga title in two years is an immensely laudable haul for someone in his first senior position. The Real Madrid manager rightly gets the nod.
Let's have some consistency, shall we? Zidane implements this formation in his Madrid team, so as he is the hypothetical coach, such a system will also be employed; it allows for a stern defence, disciplined midfield and a ferocious attack. What more could you want?
GK - Keylor Navas
Navas missed Madrid's 2-1 loss on the weekend and his absence was sorely felt. Since the David De Gea debacle - where Navas was set to join United in a switch - the keeper has been a consistent and reliable figure between the sticks. It is this element of consistency that sets him apart from Hugo Lloris, who, one feels, always has a mistake lurking at the surface.
RB - Achraf Hakimi
Dani Carvajal has missed two months with a heart infection but is on the road to recovery. However, he is unlikely to make Wednesday's trip to Wembley; in his place, youngster Hakimi has more than made up for Carvajal's absence and has cut a mature figure down Madrid's right-side. The Academy-product gets the nod over Serge Auirer of Tottenham because the ex-PSG man has an unpredictable side to him that translates into rash challenges and lapses in concentration.
CB - Toby Alderweireld
Perhaps among the very best centre-backs in world football, the Belgian is enviably composed and tactically aware of the game - very few can read the game as well as Alderweireld can. Averaging one interception per game, Alderweireld's ability to anticipate play is evident and it is a surprise that Europe's elite has not yet come calling.
CB - Sergio Ramos
For all his antics - simulation, bust-ups and ability to wind-up players - Ramos is a fine defender. Aggressive in the tackle with a spatial awareness that marks him out as one of the most intelligent footballers in the game. Ramos has 16 major honours and it is this experience of winning, of leading a team to victory consistently, that earmarks him as a natural commander.
LB - Marcelo
That Ben Davies nearly made the grade is a testament to his impressive performances this season, but very few can rival Marcelo's competitive nous, let alone his pace and enterprising nature. Marcelo makes 1.5 key passes per game - defined as a pass that unravels a defence - and for a defender, this is impressive and typifies his creative nature.
LCM - Luka Modric
Ex-Spurs star Modric is a supremely talented playmaker and has fostered a fabulous partnership with Toni Kroos - this relationship is the foundation of Los Blancos' play. An average passing accuracy of 90% speaks volumes and tells you all you need to know about the Croat's ability.
CM - Toni Kroos
Kroos has transitioned into one of the silkiest and composed midfielders of his generation and dictates the tempo of Madrid's play. Untouchable, at times. Kroos averages four key passes a game in the Champions League, compared to two per game in La Liga, suggesting the German elevates his level for Europe's prestige competition - Spurs defence, beware.
RCM - Isco
From warming the bench to becoming a pivotal member of Zidane's team, Isco is a player capable of the sublime. His movement on and off the ball is beautifully crafted and the Spaniard is one of the brightest gems in Madrid's glittering crown.
RAM - Christian Eriksen
An odd choice, perhaps, but Eriksen is one of the most underrated talents in the Premier League: his vision and creativity unlock defences and would complement the potency of Ronaldo and Kane. Like Kroos, Eriksen steps up his game when Tottenham Hotspur play in Europe, averaging five key passes per game: a lot of his work goes unnoticed, but his subtle joining of the dots and ability to thread the eye of the needle mean he is one of Spurs' most important men.
LAM - Cristiano Ronaldo
Despite starting the season in relatively indifferent form - he has scored just once in La Liga -, one simply cannot leave this serial winner out. His inclusion warrants little justification - did I mention he wrapped up his fifth Player of the Year award recently?
ST - Harry Kane
A truly world class striker - it is no surprise he is being linked with Spurs' opponents, for his goalscoring exploits have been consistently staggering. He simply must be fit for Wednesday if Tottenham Hotspur want to get a result.
After weighing up each position we are left with three players from Tottenham Hotspur, but it's almost a full Real Madrid squad with the remaining eight (although one has previously played for Spurs!),