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Who Would Win: Liverpool 2000s XI vs. Liverpool 2010s XI?

As a football club, Liverpool have experienced a few ups and plenty of downs in the Premier League era. The Reds slipped off their lofty perch early in the 1990s and have been fighting ever since to rediscover past glories. They have experienced false downs and near misses, all while using a lot of players. A lot of players. Liverpool fans like to reminisce about better times, so Bleacher Report has decided to delve into the past. We've picked teams from those who represented the Merseyside club in the 2000s and the 2010s for a hypothetical match—then you get to pick who would come out on top. To be clear, those who have played in both decades cannot appear in both lineups. It would be great to have two versions of Steven Gerrard, for example, but there will only ever be one Stevie G. While the 2000s XI are set up in a 4-3-1-2 formation (one that admittedly lacks a little width), the more recent bunch from 2010 onwards are playing Jurgen Klopp's preferred 4-3-3 system. Enough with the formalities—let us unveil the two lineups.       2000s XI GK: Jerzy Dudek Sander Westerveld began the 2000s in goal for Liverpool. He helped secure three cups during a fabulous few months in 2001 before Gerard Houllier signed Jerzy Dudek (and also Chris Kirkland) to replace him. Dudek, of course, starred in the penalty shootout success against AC Milan in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final. He copied Bruce Grobbelaar's famous jelly legs from the 1984 showpiece as he saved spot-kicks from Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko. The Pole's joy at helping Liverpool triumph in Europe for a fifth time did not last for too long, however. Manager Rafa Benitez ruthlessly relegated one of the heroes of Istanbul by bringing in compatriot Pepe Reina to take over between the posts. If it was a straight choice between the two for the best of the 2000s, Reina would actually come out on top. But, as will become clear, we've saved the Spaniard to help fill a problem position on the other side.            RB: Steve Finnan A position where, when you dive into the memory bank, there are more options than you might initially think. Markus Babbel was part of Houllier's treble-winning squad yet didn't stick around for too long, while Alvaro Arbeloa was a Spanish import who did a steady job, whether positioned on the right or left side. However, Steve Finnan wins a closely contested fight to start in our team. After a shaky beginning to life on Merseyside, he developed into a consistent performer who provided an outlet on the flank. "He will be seven, eight, nine or even ten out of ten every week. Some players find a good level for individual games but don't do the same every week. Finnan does it for a whole season," Benitez said of Finnan, according to LFC History's profile of the Republic of Ireland international.         CB: Sami Hyypia The tall but graceful Sami Hyypia is a shoo-in at the heart of the defence. While far from quick, he made up for his shortcoming in terms of speed by reading the game so well. Sometimes, it felt like he was a step ahead. Having arrived in May 1999 as a relatively unknown acquisition from Dutch football, Hyypia left a decade later as a modern-day legend. The club meant a lot to him, too; there were tears when he said his farewells to Anfield in May 2009. Even when losing the captaincy to Steven Gerrard in 2003, the unassuming Finn took the disappointment on the chin and simply got on with his job of shutting out opponents. A silent type who led by example, Hyypia was comfortable in possession and a target at set-piece situations.       CB: Jamie Carragher Hyypia's colleague at the heart of the defensive line came down to a choice between his two longtime partners at centre-back: Jamie Carragher and Stephane Henchoz. While Henchoz—who arrived at Anfield two months after Hyypia—shone at the start of the century, the Swiss misses out because of the injury issues that plagued his final seasons at the club. Also, "Carra" has to be in the 2000s team. No one has made more than the versatile defender's 508 Premier League appearances for the Reds, plus he played with the kind of pride and passion that seems to be lacking in the current Liverpool squad. He turned out everywhere across the back four and even in midfield at times early on in his career, yet the boyhood Everton fan was at his best slotted into a central role during Benitez's reign.          LB: John Arne Riise Arbeloa and Carragher were potential options to start at left-back, too, with the latter playing in the position in the thrilling UEFA Cup 5-4 triumph over Alaves in May 2001. However, both were predominantly right-footed. When it comes to those options more comfortable on their left peg, John Arne Riise is the obvious choice (yes, even ahead of Champions League winner Djimi Traore). The Norwegian had previously played in midfield for AS Monaco but blossomed as a defender under Benitez's guidance. While he had a few defensive deficiencies in the position, he was relatively reliable. And, to borrow a phrase from that great sports commentator Alan Partridge, Riise also had a left foot like a traction engine. He's definitely a strong option to take free-kicks for the 2000s XI.        CM: Javier Mascherano Signing Javier Mascherano was an inspired piece of transfer business by Benitez. Barely featuring for West Ham United, the Argentine midfielder fitted in immediately at Liverpool (whom he initially joined on loan). There were moments when his aggression went a little too far, yet Mascherano was much more than just a midfield destroyer who loved a battle, as demonstrated with his impressive individual performance in a losing cause in the 2007 Champions League final against AC Milan. The player nicknamed El Jefecito (which translates to "The Little Chief" by the way) played 139 games for the club before departing for Barcelona, who these days tend to use him in central defence.        CM: Dietmar Hamann Dietmar Johann Wolfgang Hamann—or Didi, as he's better known on Merseyside—arrived at Liverpool in 1999 as part of Houllier's major overhaul of the first-team squad. The German endured a painful start to life at Liverpool, rupturing ankle ligaments on his debut, but the early setback didn't...


Published By: Bleacher Report - Sunday, 29 October, 2017

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