The La Liga team of the decade

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“Clatter, clatter, clatter, bang!” went La Liga Loca’s smoking telex machine with a missive from the FFT ogres demanding a best XI of the past decade in Spanish football.

“Get lost. Impossible,” was the eventual response from the blog after long consideration over the potential hassle and inevitable insults involved.

Fourteen increasingly threatening messages later, La Liga Loca has given in to the demands of The Man and has - like most of the blog’s lady friends, of late - been around the block to come up with a (and by no means the) tasty XI.

But before the envelope of glory is opened, there are some caveats to go through first.

Despite their obvious claims, Pablo Ibañez, Maxi López and Pablo García did not make the final cut.

Like Deportivo-watchers, no complaints over these omissions will be entertained.

Ibanez, Lopez, Garcia: "Your loss, amigo"

Being quite good for a longer period of time has handed a disadvantage to some 'cuspers' like Leo Messi and Andrés Iniesta.

Plain old prejudice has worked against some fine players perhaps deserving a spot in the starting XI.

Luis Figo was clearly an outstanding player according to some, but La Liga Loca feels that he spent far too much time on his backside complaining to referees about supposed fouls. 

The blog has gone for an unworkable 4-3-3 formation as two of the forward line are not exactly famous for their love of tackling back.

Most matches would probably be lost 6-5.

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas

Forced his wee, young way into the Real Madrid side at the beginning of the decade and is still there now.

Saint Iker continues to get better but more importantly cooler by the year, whether he is preventing 8-0 routs against Liverpool, flogging insurance, or simply annoying the heck out of Florentino Pérez with his rather natty beard.

Right-back: Dani Alves

Arrived in Sevilla from Bahía in the winter window of 2002 and has been nothing less than a genius ever since (aside from his settling-down years).

The Brazilian is almost indestructible, totally indeftigable and one of the main reasons why Sevilla were arguably the best side in Europe for a season.

Centre-back: Fernando Hierro

The position that led La Liga Loca to the most Jimmy Hill chin-stroking and pensive mumbling during discussions with third parties was the centre-back role, with few truly outstanding candidates floating around.

Although Hierro was at the tail end of his Real Madrid career by the start of the decade, he still picked up two Champions League wins and a couple of la Liga titles before being kicked out of the club.

Could defend, pass and was an extraordinarily prolific goalscorer to boot.

Centre-back: Carles Puyol

Still not everyone’s cup of tea, and the object of name-calling like "caveman," "thuggish" and “poor man’s Brian May.”

But the poodle-haired Puyol has been an ever present throughout the decade for Barcelona and showed in the recent clash against Real Madrid that he still has that Bam-Bam magic and pace to save his side.

Left-back: Roberto Carlos

Who else? There will never be a player of his kind again.

Had the speed and stamina to launch attacks at one end and be back at the other seconds later with a sliding tackle that would send both ball and winger into the stands.

However, the Brazilian’s free-kicks tended to trouble footballer’s goolies (or spectators' faces) more than the goal.

Alves, Hierro, Puyol, Carlos: Intelligence and energy

Midfield: David Albelda

Cantankerous, grumpy, sulky, oblivious to the concept of team spirit despite being Valencia captain for much of the decade and once took his own bosses to court.

But also a superb defensive midfielder back in the day and a player who played a huge role in the Mestalla men’s glory years of two league titles and a UEFA Cup win.

Midfield: Xavi Hernández

To keep the midfield ticking over, the player that Sir Alex Ferguson reckons has never given a ball away in his life.

Although the Barça-bred footballer has only just started to be widely recognised for his talents, Xavi has been beavering away in the Camp Nou midfield for 12 seasons, picking up two Champions League and four la Liga titles on the way.

Midfield: Zinedine Zidane

Possibly getting a starting role in the blog’s XI through whimsy rather than winning performances.

Had the astonishing ability to run - or rather trundle, such was the Frenchman’s curious style - with the ball without looking at it.

And for a blog that had arrived in Spain after a life watching old Division One football, that was some kind of miracle.

Albelda, Xavi, Zidane: Crunch and creativity

Forward: Ronaldinho

The Brazilian gets 50.0000001 percent of the vote over little Leo Messi for this particular position, simply because he would make passes using his back and score goals against Chelsea whilst standing still.

Dinho’s five-season spell at the Camp Nou may not have ended well, but it was truly magical at times.

Forward: The Real Ronaldo

In his worst days, the Brazilian was tubby, injury-prone, overly fond of a drink and a disco, and more than a little lazy.

But the striker was still the best in the business by a long way.

Ronaldo’s spell at the Bernabeu club coincided with the side’s Galactico slump but O Fenomeno still banged in 83 goals in 127 games for the club.

Forward: Raúl

Before you even think about penning a stern missive on El Sulko’s inclusion, here’s one or two facts and figures around Raúl’s decade between 1999/2000 and 2008/09.

Two Champions League titles (and that goal against Valencia in 2000). Six league titles.

Goals: 139 in the league and 53 in Europe.

And top hair action for most of those 10 years, too.

R, R & R: ¡Gols!

Substitutes: Santiago Cañizares, Roberto Ayala, Michel Salgado, Marcos Senna, Luis Figo, Samuel Eto’o, Leo Messi.

Manager: As is tradition in la Liga, a series of managers will be hired and fired every two months. These will be Rafa Benítez, Vicente del Bosque, Frank Rijkaard, Fabio Capello, Pep Guardiola and Michael Laudrup (more whimsy).

------------------------------------------------ More to read...

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