26 Mar 2009

Liverpool FC's best ever Scandinavian/Eastern European XI

Some superb Scandinavian and Eastern European players have turned out for Liverpool over the years, making a considerable contribution to the club’s success. But who makes the best ever XI?

I wanted to have separate best XIs for Scandinavians and Eastern Europeans, but there just weren’t enough players to go around, so I had to combine them:

--------------------------------- Jerzy Dudek

Veggard Heggem --- Sami Hyypia (c) --- Daniel Agger --- Stig Inge Bjornebye

-------------------------------------- Igor Biscan

Vladimir Smicer ---------------- Jan Molby -------------- Patrik Berger

--------------------- Jari Litmanen ----------- Milan Baros


Martin Skrtl
Michael Stensgaard
John Arne Riise
Glenn Hysen
Bjorn Tore Kvarme
Oyvind Leonhardsen
Torben Piechnik

I chose Stig Bjornebye over John Arne Riise at left back because, in my view, Stig offers more going forward. He was a vastly underrated player for Liverpool, and was regularly the club’s top assists provider when he was fully fit. And who can forget that superb cross he provided for Robbie Fowler to head the winning goal against Newcastle in the second 4-3 thriller in 1997?

I almost chose Glenn Hysen as Sami Hyypia’s partner at the center of defence, but I had to go with Daniel Agger in the end, as Hysen is arguably too similar to Hyppia. It was a tough choice, especially considering Hysen was a great defender in his own right, and helped Liverpool win their last league championship in 1990.

At right back, the choice was between Veggard Heggem and Bjorn Tore Kvarme, which means the choice was simple! Kvarme came to Liverpool with a good reputation but was frequently prone to costly errors, the worst of which came in 1997 against Everton, when he lost the ball to Danny Cadamarteri who proceeded to score the winning goal.

Heggem was not the greatest right back in the world, but he was solid and functional for the most part. Converted to a full back from a winger, the attacking side of his game was very good, and I’m sure many fans will remember a superb solo goal he scored against Middlesborough in the lat 90s.

The much maligned Croation Igor Biscan would be the holding midfielder, a role he excelled at whenever he played there for Liverpool, most notably in his first ever game against Manchester United, and in memorable Champions League performances in 2005 against Deportivo La Coruna, Juventus and Chelsea.

If there was anyone else to put on the right of midfield, I would have chosen them over Vladmir Smicer. A great professional but never really *consistently* did the business for Liverpool, though his contribution to the club’s Champions League victory over Milan can never be forgotten. I have him on the right for the sake of balance.

Patrik Berger is the only choice for the left side of midfield. I’m a huge fan of Berger, and remember how exciting it was when he first signed and proceeded to set the club alight with a series of stunning performances, including scoring 2 goals on his debut v Leicester and another 2 on his Anfield debut against Chelsea.

Pulling the strings in midfield is the one and only Jan Molby. The thought of Molby combining with Jari Litmanen and Milan Baros is a mouthwatering prospect.

Litmanen was a scandalously mismanaged By Gerard Houllier, who frequently chose the leadenfooted Emile Heskey ahead of him, despite Litmanen performing brilliantly almost every time he played. His touch, technique and creative impact were exactly what Liverpool needed at the time, but this was completely wasted by Houllier.

To a certain extent, the same goes for Milan Baros. Houllier (and later Rafael Benitez) insisted on playing him as a lone striker, which was a mistake. Baros was frequently superb for the Czech Republic when playing with another Striker, yet Liverpool’s management failed to play to his strengths on a regular basis.

The substitutes bench is a little short of real quality, and it’s clear that this squad lacks strength in depth. Oyvind Leonhardsen was a plodding, functional player and was not Liverpool quality, and the less said about the likes of Kvarme and Torben Piechnik, the better!

John Arne Riise and Glenn Hysen would be able deputies for anyone in the first team though, and if team clicked, it would be a force to be reckoned with.

Other greatest ever teams:

Best Scottish XI
Best World XI
Best Ever XI

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  1. i disagree with u about Riise, only had a dip in form during his last 2 seasons. He was brilliant in his 1st. he used to get a lot forward!! and gave us such good memories. a true kop idol. his stunner vs the mancs in 2001 is my fav, also all the other thunderous goals were a joy to watch :) pit had to close his career with an autogoal :(

  2. It was tough to leave out Riise - like you, I loved watching him play, and he did score so many memorable goals. That goal against the Mancs in 2001 was indeed a brilliant goal!

    I just have a soft spot for Bjornebye - he created so many goals, including producing a simply stunning cross for Robbie Fowler to score the winner against Newcastle at Anfield in the dying minutes of the 4-3 win in 1997.

    Great stuff!