Over the course of the last few weeks, a common sight across the SB Nation family of soccer blogs has been the respective blog’s writers picking their own 5-a-side teams consisting of players of recent past. Our friends at Viola Nation took it a step further, playing a little game of picking a 5-a-side squad for each of the 20 teams in Serie A and using it as a way to decide the league title for the currently suspended season.
While we’re obviously not the first site to do this, the BWRAO crew decided to put our own spin on the proceedings.
Instead of having any kind of overlap, we had a true fantasy team draft — six rounds, six players per team, and have carte blanche to put a little salt in the wound of a blog friend while picking somebody they had their eye on at the same time you did. (And trust me, that happened.)
We had one rule about who could be picked: They must have played for Juventus during the club’s current eight-year run of winning the Scudetto. It didn’t matter if they played just a couple of games for Juventus or need nearly two hands to count all of the Serie A titles they won during their time in Turin, every Juventus player past or present dating back to Antonio Conte’s first game as manager in 2011 was eligible to be picked.
Somebody could have taken Simone Padoin first. (He wasn’t.)
Somebody could have taken Stefano Sturaro first. (He wasn’t.)
Somebody could have taken Rubinho first. (He wasn’t — and not even considered.)
The pre-determined draft — which was done in snake fashion — was picked out of a hat 24 hours before our video conference call and went in this order:
- Manu C.
Unfortunately, Hunter was a late scratch. (We will forgive him since it was Easter Sunday and, on a completely unrelated note, his quarantine hair is looking glorious these days.) Calvin was also supposed to be on but didn’t make it, instead he had to choose his squad from the remains of what was left. That left four of us to duke it out and try to pick a 5-a-side team (plus one sub) that will battle it out for your vote to determine who here can reign supreme as BWRAO’s best team builder.
With all the semantics out of the way, here are the teams ...
Roster: Paul Pogba, Leonardo Bonucci, Dani Alves, Sebastian Giovinco, Rodrigo Bentancur, Mirko Vucinic
Post-draft thoughts: I think that 5-a-side teams are no place for out-and-out strikers, which is why I didn’t pick any. At the same time, I don’t think it’s a place for pure defenders, either. You want versatility: players that will contribute defensively, can pass well, and have at least some attacking capacity. I picked Bonucci for his passing/technique — which will help in attack — but also that he can still defend. Alves is a defender by day and gung-ho winger by night, so he also provides that versatility. Moreover, on 5-a-side, you want people with some street smarts and with some mastery of the dark arts, if you know what I mean. The Pogba and Bentancur picks are pretty self-explanatory — they give you great passing, technique, good work rate, and an eye for goal — but Giovinco might raise eyebrows.
Giovinco has a low center of gravity and is very agile, which adds mobility and that quick turn and burst of pace that is fundamental in the smaller pitch of a 5-a-side game. Most importantly, given that he’s a supporting striker he contributes in the buildup but has an eye for goal. Vucinic was added for much the same reason, though he’s a little more creative and has a bit better passing than Giovinco. I considered benching the Italian for Mirko, though, so I’m 50-50 on that one.
All in all, marvel at my chosen
Avengers ones that will strike fear in all those foolish enough to challenge them!
Roster: Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tevez, Alex Sandro, Matthijs de Ligt, Neto, Blaise Matuidi
Post-draft thoughts: The logic here is simple: As a young footballer in Latin America, regular games on the streets or in smaller-than-regulation fields are almost compulsory, so these are guys who grew up playing in this type of setting and are used to the fast-paced nature of a 5-a-side match. I would know, since growing up in Mexico meant I played more street football than I can count. Despite my total lack of ability as a player, the one thing I’m half-serviceable at is quick give and go’s, the basis of 5-a-side teams.
Arturo Vidal, a legitimate Swiss army knife of a player, is the heart of this team with the pair of Carlos Tevez, noted bulldog of a striker, and Alex Sandro working up top. For defensive might we have Matthijs de Ligt, who is not a Latin player but he is product of the famed Ajax youth academy that places a heavy emphasis on developing technique and quick passing. He is also a beast of a human being and will body whoever tries to score on the squad. Rounding us up is Neto Murara, one-time backup keeper for Juve, but most importantly of Brazilian nationality and someone who I’m willing to bet is more skilled with his feet than your average keeper. Plus, in this is 5-a-side, any professional keeper should hold his own in such a setting deeming any advantages gained from having a superior keeper negligible.
Lastly, as our one sub we have Blaise Matuidi, who’s not the most skilled guy out there but for my team he will be coming on late in the game to protect our almost assured lead and to hound guys all over the pitch.
This team is heavy favorite in this hypothetical tournament and it ain’t particularly close, I will hear no arguments.
Roster: Paulo Dybala, Claudio Marchisio, Giorgio Chiellini, Mario Mandzukic, Wojciech Szczesny, Fabio Quagliarella
Post-draft thoughts: When thinking of a 5-a-side team, I wanted one guy with great technique, one guy who could dictate the midfield a little, and one guy who could crunch a few bones close to the goal. I’d been hoping for the guy who could do all three an an equally elite level, but Manu gazzumped me and took Arturo Vidal one pick ahead of me. In retaliation, I took his large adult son, Paulo Dybala, to cover my technique spot.
Claudio Marchisio can play either as a distributor or as a guy who can cover ground in midfield, so I took him with my second pick to take advantage of that versatility. Versatility was what I was after with my fourth pick, when I grabbed Mario Mandzukic. The Mandzubeast would go anywhere he was required to go and covers acres of ground, so he rounds the team out as a good jack-of-all-trades outfield guy. Between those two I grabbed Giorgio Chiellini for the requisite bone-crunching. I took Wojciech Szczesny as my goalkeeper. He’s the second-best keeper in the player pool, but that’s still pretty high quality.
As a bench player I went with some sentiment and picked Fabio Quagliarella. I’ve always admired Quagliarella as a player, and he’s one of the biggest what-ifs of the streak. Had he not gotten hurt, I feel he would have been playing the way he played last year at Samp for a lot of years in black and white.
Roster: Andrea Pirlo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gianluigi Buffon, Douglas Costa, Andrea Barzagli, Miralem Pjanic
Post-draft thoughts: Based on my spot in the draft, I knew that I had to get as much value as I could with each pick. So, with the last pick in the first round and the first pick in the second round and Pirlo and Ronaldo still both on the board, it was rather obvious to swoop both of them up real quick.
Basically, the plan is this: Get the ball to Ronaldo and Costa and turn them loose, something that would hopefully result in complete havoc being created. (That kinda sounds like Maurizio Sarri’s plan for this season, doesn’t it? Hopefully Costa doesn’t get hurt in any of these 5-a-side games.) Pirlo being Pirlo is always a plus, and knowing that he can play passes to those two guys up front that very few players can, then I’ve got a gut feeling that advantage is swung in my direction.
And as much as it sucks to see my son, Rodrigo Bentancur, on another writer’s roster, I can take solace in the fact that I have Pirlo pulling the strings and orchestrating offense in what is likely to be some very high-paced matchups.
Knowing that my two forwards and one starting midfield aren’t exactly known for their defense, that is basically the reason why both Buffon and Barzagli made their way onto my roster. It always helps to have the GOAT on your side and protecting your goal, right?
Just as a side note, we might as well call this Team Geriatric. Ronaldo arrived at Juventus in his mid-30s. Pirlo was offloaded by Milan because he was supposedly too old. (He wasn’t.) Buffon has obviously done things very few goalkeepers have done at in their late-30s and is still playing as he closes in on his mid-40s. And don’t forget about how good Barzagli was even though he was on the other side of 30 years old, too.
Roster: Merih Demiral, Stefan Lichtsteiner, Sami Khedira, Roberto Pereyra, Moise Kean, Alvaro Morata
Post-draft thoughts: I messed up by missing the draft, but in a way it allowed me to take a look at the entire spectrum of players we had to choose from and pick a side that has a good balance of talent and grit. My side will play rush goalie, with Merih Demiral playing the stopper in front of goal and captain Stefan Lichtsteiner getting under everyone’s skins. Peak Sami Khedira is going to conduct operations from the middle, and has an eye for goal himself ghosting in with his late runs.
Roberto Pereyra provides the Latin American flair making his deep runs out wide, bringing some razzle-dazzle but what makes this squad complete is the work ethic of Moise Kean, who is equally comfortable harassing opponents to get the ball back in the middle and showing up in the attacking half to run at defenders. My squad is rounded out by Alvaro Morata, who can be thrown on when goals are in short supply.
So, we leave this up to you, loyal reader. We hope that you stay safe, but we also hope that you pick the right team — this is Danny typing here, so you should pick MY team — so one writer has bragging rights over the rest of the crew.
Which BWRAO writer has the best 5-a-side team?
This poll is closed