Real Madrid is arguably the most successful football club of all time. They’ve been European champions a record 12 times and Spanish champions a record 33 times across their illustrious history.
And over the years, they’ve had a so-called Galactico culture. Throughout their history, Real Madrid have always boasted some of the greatest superstars of world football in their team. It is a trend that began in the 1950s, and is still going strong today.
This makes selecting an all time Real Madrid XI a very challenging, yet enjoyable task. And that’s precisely what we’ve endeavoured to do here!
It is very tempting to go with the 3-2-5 (or even 3-3-1-3) formation employed by the great Real Madrid squad that dominated the game in the late 1950s. But despite the unparalleled success of Di Stefano and co., we’re opting for the more modern system of 4-2-3-1, something that has been regularly employed by Real Madrid teams over the past couple of decades.
The Contenders : Juan Alonso, Mariano García Remon, Iker Casillas
GK : Iker Casillas
This is undoubtedly one of the easiest choices in the line up. Iker Casillas is a goalkeeping legend, having won everything with both club and country. Coming up through the youth ranks, he was with the club for 16 seasons. He notched up 725 appearances for the club, second only to Raul, 3 Champions League titles, including as club captain in 2014, and 5 La Liga titles.
The Back 4
The Contenders : Jose Santamaria, Jose Antonio Camacho, Chendo, Fernando Hierro, Fabio Cannavaro, Roberto Carlos, Sergio Ramos.
Some really illustrious names vying for the 4 defensive spots – Santamaria was the rock at the back for the great Real Madrid team of the 50s. Hierro and Ramos have been great talismans and leaders for Real Madrid over very long periods of time, and both have had incredible footballing skills beyond just defending. Camacho had been a rock at left back for Real for 18 years, but he’s fighting for the spot with the more explosive Roberto Carlos, who spent 11 years at the club. Fabio Cannavaro was among the greatest defenders of his time, and even has a Ballon d’Or to show for it. However, he spent just 4 years at the club, a meagre number compared to his rivals here.
So who make it to the back 4?
LB : Roberto Carlos
The robust Brazilian left-back has won 4 league titles and 3 Champions League titles in his 11 years at Real Madrid. As an attacking left back, there are few equals throughout history. Known for his pace, power and moments of sheer brilliance every now and then, Roberto Carlos just edges out the more solid Camacho for the left-back spot.
CB : Jose Santamaria
He was nicknamed ‘The Wall’ during his playing days, and with good reason. Santamaria was the often impenetrable last line of defence for the great Real Madrid team of the late 50s and early 60s. He featured 337 times for Los Blancos and lifted the European Cup 4 times.
CB : Fernando Hierro
Hierro was a sublime defender, with great positioning sense, anticipation and aerial ability. And there was a lot more to his game. He was very comfortable on the ball, and had a great range of passing, often starting moves for his team. And he had a fearsome shot, which helped him score an incredible 127 goals in his 601 appearances for Real.
RB : Chendo
Chendo spent his entire career at Real Madrid. He was an extremely dedicated player who stood out for his hard work and commitment to the cause. The industrious right back spent 16 seasons at the club, winning 7 La Liga titles and the 1998 Champions League.
The Heart of Midfield
The Contenders : Raymond Kopa, Pirri, Zinedine Zidane, Xabi Alonso
Raymond Kopa could easily get a chance in most teams a lot further up the pitch. But the wealth of riches available further up the pitch across the history of Real Madrid means that he’s competing for a deeper lying role. Jose Pirri and Xabi Alonse can both provide some much needed solidity in the centre of the pitch, combined with a great range of passing. Of course, there’s also the great Zinedine Zidane. These 4 will be fighting for just 2 central midfield spots .
LCM : Pirri
José Martínez Sánchez, nicknamed Pirri, was known as the lungs of the Real Madrid team of the 60s and 70s. He was an incredibly versatile player who’s played as a central midfielder, defender, sweeper and even as a makeshift forward. He netted 172 goals during his 16 seasons with the club. He represented Madrid’s strength and honour, playing the 1971 final of the European Cup Winner’s Cup with his arm in a sling, and the 1975 Copa del Rey final with fever and a broken jaw. Pirri will no doubt provide some much needed solidity in front of the back 4 in this XI. He has received the club’s greatest distinction: the Laureate.
RCM : Zinedine Zidane
One of the all-time greats of football, Zidane was always going to find his spot in this team. He played in a variety of positions throughout midfield during his Real Madrid career, but we’d like to play him centrally, getting him on the ball as often as possible. Few people have ever had a better range and eye for passing and he would be the man pulling the strings from midfield for this team. And when required, the 3 time FIFA World Player of the Year can contribute with his fair share of goals, as is evident from the 2002 UEFA Champions League final, as well as the 1998 FIFA World Cup final.
The Cutting Edge
The Contenders : Alfredo di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Francisco Gento, Hugo Sanchez, Raul Gonzalez, Ronaldo Nazario, Cristiano Ronaldo
An embarrassment of riches! There are so many great players who are not even being considered as contenders here.
Di Stefano, Puskas, Hugo Sanchez, Raul Gonzalez, Ronaldo Nazario and Cristiano Ronaldo are some of the greatest goal scorers of all time, and all of them have multiple Pichichi Trophies to their name. The one remaining contender, Francisco Gento, is regarded as one of the all time great wingers, and had scored his fair share of goals to.
LW : Cristiano Ronaldo
The talisman of the modern day Real Madrid team, Cristiano Ronaldo slots into his preferred position on the left wing. He thrives on good quality service, and there’ll be no shortage of that in this team. Cristiano is Real Madrid’s all time top goalscorer with a goal ratio of about 1 goal per game. He is the all time Champions League top goalscorer, and the second highest goalscorer in La Liga behind only Lionel Messi.
RW : Francisco Gento
The legendary winger is now the honorary President of Real Madrid, following the passing away of Di Stefano. He appeared in a record 8 European finals for Real, winning a record 6. While he made his name playing mostly on the left wing, we had to give provide Cristiano Ronaldo the first dibs. So Gento occupies the right wing in this team.
CF : Alfredo Di Stefano
The Godfather of Real Madrid occupies the no. 10 role in this XI. Today Real Madrid would not be Real Madrid without the contributions of arguably their greatest ever player, Alfredo Di Stefano. Having him as the furthest forward was definitely an enticing option, but we ultimately decided to play him just behind the focal striker in this team. Despite playing as the focal point of the great Real Madrid team of the 50s, he contributed all across the pitch, and often dropped deep to help out in defence and midfield. He was a true all-round player, and many of those who played with him swear even now that he’s the best they’ve ever seen.
ST : Ronaldo Nazario
Leaving out Ferenc Puskas was a difficult choice. We’re going to miss the deadly Puskas-Di Stefano combination in this starting line-up. But in the end, we had to go for the 3 time World Player of the Year, Ronaldo. With his incredible pace, power and skill, Ronaldo produced a series of memorable performances for the whites. And at the head of the lineup, he completes this illustrious starting XI.
Captain : Alfredo Di Stefano
Manager : Vicente del Bosque
Mariano García Remon
Jose Antonio Camacho
Do you agree with our team? Who would you rather have in your All Time Greatest XI of Real Madrid? Let us know in the comments below.