A lot of us football boot enthusiasts – myself included – love to debate over boots and their manufacturers, and much time has been spent examining and arguing over which ‘brand’ is king.

Now, imagine a game where players were not divided by club or country, but instead by their allegiance to their boot manufacturer. A one-off game, or perhaps a tournament, to decide the best boot company based on the athletes which have chosen to support that ‘team’. Who would the companies choose to field in such an important game?

This week on ‘From The Sole‘, I decided to have a go at arranging three Fantasy XI’s (as we love to do around here) based on such requirements. I gave heavy-hitters adidas and Nike their own squads, and also put together a ‘world brand’ side that encompasses the rest of the boot makers: Puma, Lotto, Mizuno, Umbro, Reebok, Diadora, Kappa, Lotto, and Under Armour.

The results were naturally three very impressive squads that I attempted to pick with teamwork, technique, and chemistry being the most important factors.

Team adidas – aka the ‘Triple Stripes’

adidas fantasy team

GK: Edwin Van Der Sar (Predator PowerSwerve)
LB: Philip Lahm (adiPure II)
CB: Per Mertesacker (Predator PowerSwerve)
CB: Martin Demichelis (Predator PowerSwerve)
RB: Jose Bosingwa (adiPure II)

Jose Bosingwa

Defense: Edwin gets the nod over Petr Cech, who’s seemed shaky at times for Chelsea in 08-09. The monstrous 6’6″ Mertesacker is chosen at the back to dominate in the air. Lahm, a promising (and already world-class) wingback, and Bosingwa, who had a great season with Chelsea, are also chosen along with the experienced Demichelis.

DMF: Xavi (Predator PowerSwerve)
CMF: Steven Gerrard (Predator PowerSwerve)
LMF: Robin van Persie (Predator PowerSwerve)
RMF: Lionel Messi (F50i)*
AMF/SS: Kaka (adiPure II)
CF: David Villa (F50.i)
* Messi has opted for a pair of F30’s over the F50’s.

David Villa

Mid/Attack: A passing based offence is coordinated by maestros Xavi and Gerrard, the latter of which can add a lot to the attack in the final third as well. Van Persie plays best when surrounded by other talented individuals, and will provide a strong left-footed cross while Messi terrorizes the right side with his dribbling abilities. Kaka’s crafty touch and Villa’s merciless finish round out a deadly and tactical attack.

Notable Exclusions: Frank Lampard, Daniele De Rossi, David Silva, David Beckham, Petr Cech, Michael Ballack, Dimitar Berbatov, Marcos Senna, Gabriel Milito, Ashley Cole, Gonzalo Higuain

Why? Lampard is excluded, as he can’t seem to find the right rhythm with Gerrard when they play together. Ballack too is left out, as I don’t feel he’d fit in as well with this passing-based flow. I chose Villa over Higuain, as I think Villa is a little more accomplished.

Team Nike – aka the ‘Check Marks’

nike fantasy team

GK: Victor Valdes (Tiempo Air Legend II)
LB: Sergio Ramos (Total 90 Laser II)
CB: Paolo Maldini (Tiempo Air Legend II)
CB: Carles Puyol (Tiempo Air Legend II)
RB: Dani Alves (Superfly)

Sergio Ramos (extreme right)

Defence: Valdes squeaks by Almunia as first-choice keeper, though both have made some great last-gasp saves this season. Pace dominates on the sides, where Ramos and Alves can overlap with the attack all game long. Experience, grit, and speed are both in Maldini and Puyol; Maldini may be a controversial decision, but even at his older age he’s showed his class for Milan.

CMF: Cesc Fabregas (Tiempo Air Legend II)
CMF: Michael Essien (Total 90 K-Leather Laser II)
AMF: Wayne Rooney (Total 90 Laser II)
RWF: Cristiano Ronaldo (Superfly)
LWF: Franck Ribery (Superfly)
CF:'  Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Superfly)

Wayne Rooney

Mid/Attack: Nike’s prolific offensive talents allow for a 4-3-3 option that still is able to maintain a strong midfield presence. Playmakers Fabregas and Essien are perfect for recapturing the ball and sending an inch-perfect pass to one of the three up front. Rooney’s two-way versatility makes him ideal to help out in the middle, while Ribery and Ronaldo add pace and dribbling while being two players who can set up plays just as easily as they can finish them. Despite Ibrahimovic’s struggles in European play, I couldn’t ignore his killer finishing and I feel his skill would complement this attack perfectly.

Notable Exclusions: Robinho, Arshavin, Fabio Cannavaro, Patrice Evra, Andrea Barzagli, Fernando Torres, Yaya Toure, Darijo Srna, John Obi Mikel, Yossi Benayoun, Andres Iniesta, Eric Abidal, Manuel Almunia

Why? Robinho and Torres miss out as I feel they don’t have the playmaking to match their finishing. Barzagli deserves to be in the centre of defense after a fantastic season with Wolfsburg but I gave it to the older Italian based on experience. Iniesta and Toure also give way to the (in my opinion, better-defensively) Essien.

Worlds Team – aka ‘Everything Else’

world brand fantasy team

GK: Iker Casillas (Reebok Valde Pro)
LB: Joan Capdevilla (Lotto Leggenda Due)
CB: John Terry (Umbro Speciali)
CB: Nemanja Vidic (Puma v-Konstrukt III)
RB: Gabriel Heinze (Under Armour Dominate Pro)

Nemanja Vidic

CMF: Thomas Hitzlsperger (Puma King XL)
LMF: Ryan Giggs (Reebok Instante)
RMF: Deco (Umbro SX Valor II)
LWF: Thierry Henry (Reebok Instante)*
RWF: Nicolas Anelka (Puma v1.08)
CF:'  Samuel Eto’o (Puma v1.08)
* Henry instead opted for his old Sprintfit Lite Pro’s in the Champions League final.

Nicolas Anelka

The candidate pool for the world brands was still strong, despite missing some of football’s biggest names. An outstanding central defence is flanked by experienced veterans, and the three midfielders provide technique and playmaking to the Barcelona-inspired attacking trio.

Defensively, the squad is made up of a strong Premier League inspired centre, while the two full backs have loads of quality, though I realise that I’m asking Heinze to play out of position. Mind you, having learnt to speak Welsh, I’m certain he can do pretty much anything!

In attack, I like the technical skill offered by Deco, the experience and vision of Giggs, and the power from Hitzlsperger. The front three have pure finishing prowess. Eto’o and Henry (coupled with Messi) accounted for a century of goals at club level in the past season along with Anelka, the Premier League’s top scorer for 2008-09.

Notable Exclusions: Gianluigi Buffon, Giuseppe Rossi, Luca Toni, Simone Perotta, “Hulk”, Roque Santa Cruz, Bobby Zamora

Why? I chose Casillas over Buffon for the sake of recent form. Rossi still needs experience, and Toni doesn’t have the pace to fit in with my attacking formation. The others would make strong candidates for bench players, but weren’t better than the starting eleven choices to warrant inclusion.

So, those are my 3 squads. What do you guys think? Please leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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    1. says: Fenboy

      Tom / Peyton – I agree with you about Iniesta being a contender but the beauty of opinion is that everyone has one.

      If you read the piece, the authour explains why he’s not there.

      Of course, you don’t have to agree with it but then if teams picked themselves then they’d be no debate at all.

  1. says: Kyle

    Wow – epic is right!

    Loads of thought in there Justin, it’s nice to see some love for the Bundesleague in there too – especially recognition of Wolfsburg’s massive achievements.

    I’ve got to say though, Torres is my top striker! How can you leave him out! That said – it’s easy to see why you opted for Zlatan based on form though.

  2. says: Mo

    Great idea.

    In a three way tourno, playing home and away, I think these teams would finish like this;

    1. Nike
    2. The mixed team
    3. Adidas

    What a great tourno that would be.

    Footy Boots get the tourno arranged.

  3. says: JCD

    I agree that Maldini and Puyol are two world class defenders, however in my opinion i beleive that rio ferdinand should be there

  4. says: mfafc

    how is Didier Drogba not even mentioned in the notable exclusions for team nike? Also, Fernando Torres deserves the spot over Ibrahimovic, who has done nothing but whine and complain all year. He never shows up for big occasions and everybody knows that.
    Furthermore, players like iniesta and carrick, along with lampard must be included in these “all-star” sides. Lampard is one of the best midfielders in the world, and i believe he is starting to function better alongside stephen gerrard in the midfield for england so why not play them together here?
    You guys really need work with your team selections.

  5. says: ryan

    Arshavin over Ribery and Addidas would win i mean c’mon
    ther squad is awesome also there needs to be some tweaks with nike and Mixed would give a hell of a good fight

  6. says: Michael

    Rio Ferdinand should be included in the Nike team. Torres is better than Ibra. Carragher could be a notable mention in the adidas side. Defoe and Adebayor as honorable mentions for Adidas.

  7. says: lfc fan

    Torres over ibrahimovic or rooney as he is the BEST STRIKER IN THE WORLD to be honest

    and since essien is chosen over iniesta over defensive ability then iniesta should replace fabregas? since everything iniesta does is better than fabregas

    may i point out that adidas has players that r role models like zidane, messi, kaka and gerrard

  8. says: Zac

    I am United supported but I question where Andres ‘The Giant’ Iniesta is. World class player. Also, Rio should be in the Nike back 4. And that scouse Torres should be there as well, over Ibra.

  9. says: martincillo

    i agree with jk, demichelis is a trunk ! and almunia is better tha valdez. nike must win !!! is better man by man than the adidas player.

  10. says: Ryan

    I agree with all that except imbrahimovic. Arshavin should replace him. 4 goals in one game against Liverpool and just coming into a new country’s playing style, he still has it. 😉
    Otherwise I agree, but you can’t please everyone

  11. says: Splinter09

    Great post Justin! Had fun reading it. But where is in team Nike there is now way Iniesta can be left out, specially playing with Fabregas in midfield. Heinze as a left back better off with myself in that position. lol

  12. says: Adipure

    The Adidas Team would win out these three teams. Followed by Nike then Rest of World. I’d sooner have Torres than Ibrahimovic though and maybe Maicon instead of Dani Alves, and maybe Iniesta somewhere..the list goes on.

  13. says: jenks

    I have noticed that not one person mentioned diego forlan for the adidas team. He out scored not only david villa,but every striker in europe proved by him winning the la liga Pichichi and the european golden boot for the second time in f50’s

    1. says: Splinter09

      Nice one jenks! Diego Forlan is a natural killer. Outscore players C. Ronaldo and Messi in the level they’ve playing, have its merits.

  14. says: rbarsenal

    Excellent job on the teams. In my opinion, I would have Arshavin instead of Ibra. Also, I’d have Messi twice 😉

  15. says: Devin

    anyone else that can replace capdevilla? he had a poor showing today against the US.

    Yeah Iniesta should definitely be in the squad.

  16. says: JM#1

    I admit that Zlatan is a world class striker but no way he tops Torres’ class. It would be much better if Torres and Ibra were a pair instead of Rooney and Ibra. And Van Der Sar out and Reina in. VDS would’ve never kept that clean sheet streak without United’s rock hard defence.

    1. says: Fenboy

      jj – he wore Umbro for the FA Cup final but had worn adidas for the entire season before that.

      I think that makes him more adidas than Umbro.

  17. says: Barriecuda

    Thanks for the replies guys!

    Glad to see everyone took an interest in the teams. A few quick notes…

    1. ‘Notable exclusions’ aren’t limited to just the players listed, so guys like Drogba – incredible attacking talent – are worthy of a mention but just didn’t make the list (I didn’t want to go TOO much into it).

    2. I’m sticking with Ibra over Torres, again I’m convinced he’s the more versatile of the pair. He can finish on the level that Torres can, but his tricks and skills can set up plays with ease.

    3. Clichy, Forlan, and Rio were all good suggestions and I think that Rio in particular would get a nod were I to update the list.

    4. Iniesta… I just think him and Xavi are almost identical but Xavi is just a slight bit better. I admit impartiality to Cesc but I think he offers more options than Iniesta. It’s a tough argument though.

  18. says: Adidas

    The Adidas Team is the best. Nike and the Mixed team don’t the dangerous and controlling midfield that the Adidas team has. Really think about it Xavi, Gerrard, Messi, Van Persie, and Kaka. They would control the game the whole time. They could dominate the game and make the others run around the picth just o get a touch on the ball. ADIDAS TEAM ALL THE WAY

  19. says: briam

    The Adidas Team rules.They have the best middlefielders so they could control the game as they want.I would make some changes in other positions…I prefer Lucio to Mertesacker(the brazilian is much better), Ashley Cole to Lahm and Lampard to Van Persie.You also could have considered Forlan,Benzema or Adebaroy as strikers.Im not saying that Villa is not good enough,he´s great but in the end it´s so hard to decide due to adidas have the greatest soccer player in the world.

  20. says: Jon

    Gotta say Iniesta deserves to be in there over Cesc. And Torres over Ibra. But job well done overall and very interesting post

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