Football's What-if Duos

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by poetgooner, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    I was discussing with my Arsenal friends for a while about how if Sanchez and Ozil never played together (say, we lost one) we'd be having this fantasy in our head that Ozil + Sanchez would be a title-challenging duo. Obviously, we now know that isn't the case, particularly not under Wenger.

    This has got me thinking about a couple other Arsenal what-ifs duo. The first one that came to mind was the Anelka/Henry duo. Henry was never meant to be Anelka's replacement. They were meant to play together, but Madrid's money meant Anelka's head was turned and we had no choice but to sell. I can easily imagine those two together to be a ridiculously powerful front two, even better than Yorke/Cole or Sutton/Shearer. Maybe enough to help us win another EPL title or two, perhaps in '99 and '03, but perhaps not the UCL given the Wenger factor.

    Another is the Cesc/RvP duo. They were at the club at the same time for a long time, but injuries robbed us of that duo. Cesc had to carry our team for years (Arsenal post '09 really had no business finishing in the top 4). By the time RvP was fully fit, capable of finishing top scorer twice (single handedly got us top 4 and Man Utd the title) Cesc already left. Given their complimentary styles (Cesc liking to play early balls, which RvP was a master at getting on the end of) they could have been an absolute world-class duo imho, especially before Rosicky and Hleb completely fell apart.

    A duo that I think was never going to work was the CR7/Kaka one. I just don't think Madrid, at the time, was very well set up to maximize them. Kaka's injury mean we'd never know for sure, but given their style of play and where Madrid was like at the time, especially compared to Barcelona, I'm not sure that galacticos duo would have worked out too well. Not until they could pick up the Modric/Kroos duo.

    So, can anyone think of other great what-if duos in football? Or perhaps duos that you think would never have worked anyway.
     
  2. Edhardy

    Edhardy Member+

    Sep 4, 2013
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Club:
    Juventus FC
    What if Ronaldinho-Messi
    We saw glimpses when Messi was a youngster, but what if Ronaldinho hadn't declined and their peaks had overlapped.

    What if Pirlo-Xavi
    Pirlo talks about discussions with Pep to convince him to join Barca. Imagine him and Xavi under Pep.

    What if Del Piero-Henry
    When Henry joined Juve, Ancelotti really messed up the way he didn't even know what the young Thierry's position actually was. Imagine Del Piero and Henry with Zidane behind them.
     
  3. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    I think this would be the great one. I know there's a lot of discussion regarding Barcelona's greatest modern front line, with MSN usually being a slight favourite. Is there any doubt whatsoever that Ronaldinho-Eto-Messi wouldn't be the greatest?

    Would this be much better than the Xavi-Alonso duo in the NT? An argument can be made as well that the likes of Busquets and Alonso provide better defensive balance than a Pirlo.

    This is an interesting one. I could see Del Piero and Henry working although I'm not sure if it'll be more similar to Pires-Henry or Bergkamp-Henry.

    Not sure about Zidane, as his chemistry with Henry at NT wasn't the best. I think Nedved would do better.
     
  4. Edhardy

    Edhardy Member+

    Sep 4, 2013
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Club:
    Juventus FC
    1) Ronaldinho-Eto'o-Messi for me too would be the greatest, or certainly had potential to be. The glimpses we had (El Clasico 3-3 and 0-3 at the Bernabeu show what might have been). With a peaking Xavi and Iniesta too in 08-12, one can only wonder.

    2) I think Busquets provides better defensive balance certainly, but not sure about Alonso. I think the combination would be more aesthetic, and Xavi would play much higher as in 08-09 season where he had a staggering number of direct assists. The thought of Iniesta-Pirlo-Xavi is quite something
     
  5. Edhardy

    Edhardy Member+

    Sep 4, 2013
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Club:
    Juventus FC
    I also thought about the Del Piero - Henry link, they both liked drifting to the lift to then shoot from their favourite zone. But Del Piero later on played more central
     
  6. annoyedbyneedoflogin

    Jun 11, 2012
    I remember a Chelsea vs Newcastle game where both an inshape Joe Cole and Sebastián Veron played. Possession must have been 70% or more and it was pure gallery-play.
     
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  7. annoyedbyneedoflogin

    Jun 11, 2012
    Pelé and Garrincha never lost a match when they played together.
    Another such duo is the double 8 pairing of Edgar Davids and the less famous Paul Bosvelt. When both started in center midfield, they never lost.
    Unfortunately, Bosvelt, despite being an alltime Feyenoorder, got very few starts because of Cocu and Seedorf having a higher profile (and a long relationship with the NT coach).
    The synergy, that none of the latter had, was the combo of Davids' pressing and Bosvelt's positioning. Together they recycled a dream.

    What if?
    They would for sure have qualified for WC 2002.
     
  8. lanman

    lanman BigSoccer Supporter

    Aug 30, 2002
    Lampard & Gerrard?
     
  9. celito

    celito Member+

    Palmeiras
    Brazil
    Feb 28, 2005
    USA
    Club:
    Palmeiras Sao Paulo
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    There is a pretty good recent video you may have seen of them and Rio talking about why they didn't click for the English NT. One of the reasons was obviously tactical but another thing they discussed is that they didn't really bond because they had their club rivalry in mind. So they barely talked and had their little club groups within the NT.
     
  10. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Yeah, I can see how that could be a problem.

    We know for a fact though that Mourinho was chasing after Gerrard. If he had got his hands on Gerrard, I could definitely see Gerrard and Lampard working out. I think Mourinho would know what to do to make them work out well.
     
  11. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Marco van Basten and Roberto Baggio at Fiorentina potentially, if Van Basten had completed his signing before AC Milan bought him, and then Fiorentina could still afford Baggio in 1990....
     
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  12. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Thanks for the rep Ed - I think you knew what I meant lol!

    But of course when I read what I wrote I realised it wasn't quite right! Baggio was already at Fiorentina when they tried to buy Van Basten I think (they'd paid the equivalent of £1.5 million in 1985 Wikipedia says...so that was still quite a big amount). And I don't know how I typed 1990 - that's obviously when they sold him to Juventus (I did know that of course!).

    It makes it a better choice in a way though, as it was actually pretty close to happening it seems.
     
  13. Edhardy

    Edhardy Member+

    Sep 4, 2013
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Club:
    Juventus FC
    Haha I knew what you meant. Would have been a very exciting duo. Can't think of a more complimentary (on paper) duo that actually had a realistic chance of happening.
    One that actually happened was Ibra & Messi, which I find quite similar, especially technique wise though Van Basten at the time was more mobile than Ibra.
    Ibra & Messi looked incredible for the first 4-5 months then something happened that I've never understood. It gives a glimpse of what Baggio-Van Basten would have looked like
     
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  14. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Would it have been better than the Milan trio? Won't we be asking ourselves, especially after EURO '88 'What if Gullit and MVB could play together at club level?' :D
     
  15. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Impossible to say really I think. Although maybe Milan would still have tried to sign Van Basten from Fiorentina if he'd gone there first....
     
  16. leadleader

    leadleader Member+

    Aug 19, 2009
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    If Ibra's comments over the years are any indication--Guardiola happened, not necessarily to the overall team, but apparently Ibra didn't think he had the backing of the coach. Or as Ibra himself has explained on numerous occasions: "He bought a Ferrari but drove it like a fiat." On a slightly different note: Guardiola also arguably failed to properly implement Cesc Fabregas into the team; or just as bad, maybe Fabregas simply was a bad signing for the team, in which case Guardiola must take the blame for that. Also, the same goes for Alexis Sanchez.
     
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  17. leadleader

    leadleader Member+

    Aug 19, 2009
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    What if duos.

    Riquelme - Cristiano Ronaldo / 2006 - 2009

    Riquelme recently admitted that one of the biggest regrets in his career was not having signed for Manchester United when Alex Ferguson came calling late in the 2005-06 season. It would've been a fascinating duo, the slower but deceptive technical play of Riquelme, complementing with Ronaldo when he was at the height of his powers as a winger-dribbler. (Moreover, I believe this duo would've also put a dent on any discussions about Riquelme's lack of defensive contribution, which I always found to be overstated for a player who became more of a number 8 than a number 10 over the trajectory of his career in Europe.)

    Fernando Redondo - Sebastian Veron / World Cup 1998

    I'm not a big Veron fan by any means, but it would've been an interesting midfield to have watched at World Cup 1998; Redondo at the peak of his powers, next to Veron when Veron still seemed to be going places.

    Kaka - Cristiano Ronaldo / 2009 - 2012

    Would've been a great one to watch, but Kaka was already a damaged player by the time he signed for Real Madrid.

    Joaquin - Drogba / 2006 - 2010

    Joaquin dribbling through the right flank and delivering perfect crosses for Drogba would've been very entertaining--I think he would've quickly become a fan favorite at Stamford Bridge, similar to how Fernando Torres immediately won the hearts of the Liverpool faithful. Not to mention, that Jose Mourinho's tactics arguably suited a player like Joaquin. Instead, Joaquin ended up joining a declining Valencia, with small David Villa and also small David Silva as the forwards, in other words, a club where Joaquin would repeatedly cross the ball into the path of small forwards (whom more often than not will not beat bigger defenders in the air).
     
  18. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Usually, there's always a question mark over a no.10 coming from Spain to EPL, however, I actually agree this one could work. I'm not sure if his 'defensively lazy' image would go away though. I know that playing in the EPL would give him more exposure, but I assume he'll be playing the Scholes role, which had the least amount of defensive responsibilities.

    If nothing else though, it would surely make Scholes far less overrated. Riquelme would also be much more highly rated for winning a few EPLS, making it to 2 UCLs, and winning one (assuming everything else remains unchanged, which is no guarantee.)
     
  19. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Like you said, I think the timing was all wrong on this one. I don't think this duo was ever going to work in practice, especially if it meant playing Kaka wide left in a front 3 or playing the 4231 which was going out of style.

    Personally, I don't think the Madrid at the time had the team to really dominate, even if Kaka was fully fit anyway. The Busquest-Xavi-Iniesta was just too dominant. It is no coincidence that Madrid only became the world's best when their rival's midfield was past their prime while they themselves picked up Kroos and Modric.
     
  20. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    This is an interesting one. I wonder if Joaquin would struggle like Jesus Navas.

    I don't recall great wingers with Mourinho's team, with the exception of Damien Duff when he was playing with Robben. Otherwise, Mourinho preferred his wide player cutting inside, didn't he? Afterwards, Ancelotti would use a no-winger formation. Even Malouda was made into a central player who would drift wide.
     
  21. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
  22. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    A young Ronaldo could have played with Rivaldo and/or Nedved while at PSV. This would however break up the partnership he had with Nilis, who he sees as the best he had for/in his career. The best connection he had and the most helpful for his development.

    Romario could have played with Van Basten, during an era of the club when they bought a half dozen Ajax players (Koeman, Vanenburg etc.)
     
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  23. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    It is not of the same level as some of the duos mentioned here but since all three players are now among the 10 most expensive transfers it is solid to mention;

    Between the years 2007 and 2011 there was a (small) chance that Suarez, Lukaku and Van Dijk had all ended up at Ajax (just as Eriksen, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Vermaelen who were there too). Lukaku was born and raised just across the border in Antwerp and since Antwerp lacks a 'big' professional club of their own in the recent decades he was always going to move. FC Groningen has now the strange distinction that two of the three most expensive Dutchmen were nurtured by them (and not 'bought' during their teenager years). Strangely, when he moved to Celtic no domestic club was interested in him (and then immediately performed at Champions League level), but for a time the chance was real that all of Suarez, Lukaku and Van Dijk had ended up at the same club during the start of their careers (or Lukaku and VvD had made their first team debut when Suarez was biting the dus... uhhhmmm playing there).

    Just as with Lukaku I am actually skeptical whether it will work out, but it's true that SofaScore rates VvD 8th, 8th and 48th of the league the past two and a half seasons, which is reasonable given playing position and team (and that he just stopped trying the past half year, something which I don't applaud). WhoScored had him 7th, 12th and 48th which is - again - fine given and relative to team(mates), tactics and playing position.
     
  24. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Certainly underwhelming Puck lol, especially because none of them were particularly world-beaters back in the Netherlands.

    I think as has been the case for the past 25 years, if any team start to rise, they get ripped apart by the elite, just as it happened with Parma and Dortmund, anyway.
     
  25. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    Yes as I said it was a suggestion based on transfer value (all three in the top ten). At one point there was a real chance all three would end up at the same club.
    Remains strange that at the end of VvD his stay no domestic top team (incl. AZ) trusted him and then immediately - sort of - managed to stand out in the Champions League for Celtic.

    Another one close to happen was Laudrup and Bergkamp at Barcelona. Then in the late 90s he received another round of offers but didn't want to move again (after feeling unhappy, also in his personal life, in Italy).

    Michael Cox claims that easily Cantona had almost played for Arsenal and Dennis for Ferguson. Which makes me wonder whether Ferguson had been better able to prevent/stop the fear of flying (my gut feeling says 'yes')
     

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