Ultimate XI's

Ultimate XIs- Landlocked FC

Hello!

Welcome back to another XI, today we are using another list of countries to inform our picks. It is another geographical one this time, we are picking a team from all of the world’s landlocked countries!

Landlocked countries take up 11% of the world, but only 7% of the population, it’s almost as if people like going to the beach!

Anyway, let’s get into it…

GOALKEEPER- Péter Gulácsi- Hungary

The career of Péter Gulácsi really is a peculiar one, considering this time ten years ago he was on loan at Tranmere, but now he is battling it out at the top of the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig.

Gulácsi makes this XI based on the fact he is from Hungary, one of the many Eastern European landlocked countries, and he has played 31 times for his country.

The only trophies he has ever won in his career were two league titles and two Austrian cups with Red Bull Salzburg, but it is with the Leipzig outfit that he has emerged as one of Europe’s best goalkeepers.

LEFT BACK- David Alaba- Austria

David Alaba is one of the most versatile players in world football, when he first came through at Bayern he was playing left back, but since then he has been deployed in midfield or in the centre of defence.

Alaba has played 372 games for Bayern at the age of just 27, and he has won eight Bundesliga titles in Bavaria. He has made the Bundesliga team of the season twice, and he is still a thoroughly important part of Bayern’s spine.

He is Austria’s best player, and he won the Austrian player of the year for six years in a row between 2011 and 2016. He is just 28 games away from playing 100 for his country, which is an astonishing achievement for someone still three years shy of 30.

RIGHT BACK- Stefan Lainer- Austria

It seems as if players from landlocked countries flock to the Bundesliga, as Stefan Lainer is the third player currently playing for a German club in this XI!

Lainer is currently at Borussia Mönchengladbach and he is an important part of their side that has challenged for European Football so far this campaign.

Lainer joined from Red Bull Salzburg in the summer and he has made a good impression, playing 15 times in the Bundesliga for Gladbach. He is 27 so he is close to his peak, and he will hope that he continues to impress.

CENTRE BACK- Manuel Akanji- Switzerland

We continue with the Bundesliga theme! Manuel Akanji is from Switzerland, another landlocked European country, and he takes his place at centre back.

Akanji joined Borussia Dortmund from Basel in 2018, and since then he has played 59 times in the Bundesliga, and now he is seen as one of the best defenders in the league. He is just 24 years old and still has lots of potential to be one of the worlds best.

He has made 22 appearances for Switzerland after making his debut in 2017. He is a defender that relies on pace and power, but he also has a good reading of the game, which stands him in good stead to go on and have a wonderful career.

CENTRE BACK- Milan Škriniar- Slovakia

We have spoken about Milan Škriniar plenty of times in these XI’s but he is one of the best players to come from a landlocked country. The Inter defender just seems to get better and better, and he is worth at least £60 million.

He has played nearly 150 Serie A games, which is an excellent achievement in itself considering he joined the league when he was 21, and he is still only 25. He is now part of a defensively strong Inter side, and he is sure to learn lots from Diego Godin and Stefan De Vrij.

Škriniar is strong, good on the ball and an excellent reader of the game. His play style is perfectly suited to the Italian game and there is a good chance he will go down as one of the best foreign exports when he retires in a decade or so.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Sergej Milinković- Savić- Serbia

Sergej Milinković-Savić in Spain, but he represents Serbia in football so he makes this XI in the midfield. He is another player currently playing in Serie A, and he has been instrumental in Lazio’s unlikely title push this season.

The Serb is a tall, physically dominating midfielder, who has wonderful technical ability and a ferocious right foot. He has all the attributes to be one of the most well rounded central midfielders of his generation, and at just 25 he could well go on to do this.

Lazio have had a wonderful season, and Milinković-Savić is a massive part of their success, contributing with good defensive and attacking numbers.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Granit Xhaka- Switzerland

You’ll be hard tasked to find a bigger Granit Xhaka fan than I am. Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder has received a lot of criticism during his time at the Emirates, most it because he isn’t what people think he is, a defensive midfielder.

Xhaka is a wonderful deep lying playmaker, who is not afraid to sacrifice himself for his team, yes in some moments he can lose his head, but if you look at it he rarely costs his team.

He has played 82 times for Switzerland, and he is one of the first names on their team sheet. He is tenth on their record appearances list, which is some achievement considering he is only 27. Put some respect on his name.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Geoffrey Kondogbia- Central African Republic

Geoffrey Kondogbia is the first and last African player to make it into this XI, and while he was actually born in France, he represents the Central African Republic.

Kondogbia has played for plenty of big European clubs, including Sevilla, Monaco and Inter Milan. He is now at Valencia and he provides a good presence in the defensive midfield role.

Kondogbia helped Valencia win the 2019 Copa Del Rey, he is another player in this XI who is 27 and he has been much sought after across Europe.

LEFT WING- Miguel Almirón- Paraguay

Miguel Almirón has been quietly consistent since joining Newcastle last year. He has scored six goals in all competitions, and has constantly been one of their most creative players in a very defensive team.

He is a diminutive figure with a wand of a left foot, he also works hard defensively for his side and he has been impressive for the Toon.

Almirón is probably Paraguay’s best player, he has played 25 times for them scoring two, but they do not have many players playing in Europe, Almirón is one of them.

RIGHT WING- Henrikh Mkhitaryan- Armenia

Mkhitaryan is possibly the best player to have ever come out of Armenia, and he has played at some of the worlds best clubs. He is now at Roma, and he has put in some decent form in the Italian capital.

He has won the Armenian player of the years on nine occasions, and after making his debut in 2007 he was played 86 times for his country. He has never been able to lead them to a major tournament, mainly because he was lacking support from the rest of his team.

Mkhitaryan never really made much of an impact at Manchester United or Arsenal, but his form at Dortmund showed just how good he was when he was at his best.

STRIKER- Dušan Tadić- Serbia

Dušan Tadić has been truly magnificent at Ajax since joining in 2018, and he was one of the best players in Europe last season.

Tadić scored 38 goals in all competitions last season, and his goals sent Ajax inches away from the Champions League final. His form last season was a far cry from what we all saw at Southampton, but he clearly wasn’t happy while at St Mary’s.

That’s all for today!

See you tomorrow…

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