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Sandro's Perfect XI: "Luka Modric has an absurd first touch – he's a maestro"

Sandro's Perfect XI
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sandro spent four years at Tottenham in the early 2010s, before going on to have spells at QPR and West Brom, having already lifted the Copa Libertadores with Internacional back home in South America.

FourFourTwo sat down with him to finally get an answer to the question: what would a combined Spurs and Brazil team look like?

Sandro's Perfect XI first appeared in the January 2020 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. Subscribe today and get 13 issues a year delivered straight to your door.

Sandro's Perfect XI – Goalkeeper: Heurelho Gomes

“Your goalkeeper must be fearless and good at fighting for aerial balls. He was exactly like that at Spurs. He made the whole team feel safe in every dead-ball situation, which is important in English football. A born leader.”

Right-back: Kyle Walker

“Kyle’s incredibly strong and fast. It felt like almost every time he was dribbled past at Spurs, he got the ball back after a few seconds and began the build-up of an attack. A threat for the opposition whenever he goes up the pitch.”

Centre-back: Michael Dawson

“Michael was our captain, our leader, and he won almost every aerial duel at White Hart Lane. That gave strength to defensive players like me. He was very strong and efficient at marking, and on the ball he had an excellent long pass – Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon know what I’m talking about!”

Centre-back: Jan Vertonghen

“A left-footed centre-back with great build-up play, who speeds up a team’s game with good passes or composure on the ball. Jan also attacks well when he finds space, and even scores using that skill – he did it once for Tottenham against Manchester United. He’s a very tough marker, too.”

Left-back: Marcelo

“Very quick, skilful, and he has an unbelievable first touch. Marcelo is really calm under pressure and doesn’t let emotions affect him whether his team are ahead or behind. He might be a left-back, but he attacks like a winger and is one of the best full-backs in the world. A complete package: he can cross, he can assist and he can score. Brilliant.”

Centre-midfield: Pablo Guinazu

“My old Internacional team-mate was a warrior – he always gave everything for the team. When I was tired, I’d just look at him in front of me running and fighting. That would push me forward.”

Centre-midfield: Luka Modric

“Whichever pass I gave him, Luka had an absurd first touch. He could receive the ball while turning around and still go past his opponent. That’s ridiculous! He also reads the game incredibly well and can see everything – the full-backs going up or the forwards’ movements. A maestro who makes the game tick.”

Centre-midfield: Oscar

“An amazing long-range shooter who has scored many beautiful goals from outside the box – he’s sensational. He helps in the build-up and gets assists, too. How could I not pick him?”

Right-winger: Gareth Bale

“The player who has won more games for teams I’ve played in than any other. He scores however he wants: free-kicks, outside the box, inside the box. Gareth has it all: speed, skills, shooting and heading ability – he’s phenomenal! [Starts singing] Bale! Bale! Bale!” 

Forward: Jermain Defoe

“Explosive speed and extremely quick, even over shorter distances. Jermain’s 
great at shooting with a good blend of power and accuracy. He isn’t tall, but he never gives defenders a moment to rest as he moves between the lines.”

Left-winger: Neymar

“It’s very difficult to stop Neymar because he’s so skilful, light and keeps the ball remarkably well while he runs. Wherever he shoots, with either foot, it usually results in a goal.”

Manager: Tite

“My first coach at Internacional. Tite led the dressing room so well – he had control of everything. He was very wise and rational, so you always paid attention to what he had to say. Tite is really clever tactically, but above all he’s a great man.”

Substitutes

Thiago Silva

Andres D'Alessandro

Emmanuel Adebayor

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