Ronaldinho’s dream UEFA Champions League XI: Lionel Messi and three ex-Chelsea stars selected while Cristiano Ronaldo gets snubbed

What happens if you ask Ronaldinho, one of the greatest soccer players ever, to create his ultimate Champions League lineup?

Ronaldinho, the Brazilian soccer legend, is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Throughout his career, he has won numerous individual awards, including the FIFA World Player of the Year award twice, the Ballon d’Or, and the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award. He also played a pivotal role in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup-winning team, scoring twice in the final against Germany.

During his professional career, he has played alongside and against many of the game’s legends at both the club and national levels. Recently, he was asked to name his ultimate Champions League XI, and there have been some interesting inclusions. 

Lionel Messi

With only 11 slots, there are only so many players that he could pick. And surprisingly, 5 times Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo was nowhere to be found in the XI.

So, who are the players that have made it into Ronaldinho’s Champions League XI?

GK: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)

Gianluigi Buffon is arguably the greatest goalkeeper in the game’s history. Ever since his debut in 1995, Buffon has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers throughout his career. Even though Buffon has a World Cup trophy to his name, he was not fortunate enough to win the Champions League.

The 45-year-old Italian is still an active professional player, playing for Serie B side Parma.

Gianluigi Buffon

LB: Roberto Carlos (Brazil)

Roberto Carlos was Ronaldinho’s teammate during Brazil’s 2002 World Cup dominance. The Brazilian left-back was known for his destructive free kicks and is considered among the best wing-backs to grace the pitch. 

Roberto Carlos has 103 Champions League appearances to his name, and he has won the trophy three times with Real Madrid.

Roberto Carlos

CB: Paolo Maldini (Italy)

Another Italian that is arguably one of the best of all time in his position, Paolo Maldini, has featured in eight different UCL finals, winning five of them with the only club he has ever played for, AC Milan.

An elegant and graceful defender who dominated the game with his intelligence and finesse, Maldini was the embodiment of the phrase “defend with style,” a true artist on the field who possessed a rare combination of physical prowess, tactical acumen, and technical skill.

Paolo Maldini

CB: John Terry (Chelsea)

John Terry is one of the three Chelsea players to make it to Ronaldinho’s dream UCL XI. The English defender has played in the Champions League for over a decade, amassing 109 appearances over that time.

Terry captained his Chelsea side to a UCL title in 2011-12, defeating FC Bayern Munich in the final.

John Terry

RB: Marcos Cafu (Brazil)

Another Brazilian legend and Ronaldinho’s national team-mate, Cafu is widely regarded as one of the best wing-backs. Among his achievements, Cafu captained the 2002 World Cup-winning Brazil side. He also won the Champions League with AC Milan in the 2006-2007 season.


CM: Claude Makalele (France)

The second Chelsea player to find his place on the list, Claude Makalele, was the player that bossed the defensive-midfielder role during his prime. The former Chelsea and Real Madrid star has 84 UCL appearances, and a UCL title with Real Madrid in 2001-2002.


CM: Frank Lampard (England)

Yet another Chelsea player that is highly regarded by the Brazilian legend, Frank Lampard won the UCL title with Chelsea in the 2011-12 season. He was one of Chelsea’s best players ever, and recently he took up the manager’s role after Chelsea sacked Graham Potter.

Frank Lampard

CAM: Ricardo Kaka (Brazil)

Another former national teammate of Ronaldinho, Kaka, was, in his prime, one of the best-attacking midfielders in the world.

Kaka was key to AC Milan’s success in the 2006-2007 season, during which the Serie A side won the league title as well as the Champions League. The Ballon d’Or for 2007 was awarded to him in recognition of his outstanding performance.


LW: Thierry Henry (France)

 France’s Thierry Henry finds his spot in Ronaldinho’s ultimate UCL XI over the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo. The former Arsenal player has 73 caps in the UCL and has won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 Euros with his national side. Henry won the UCL title in the 2008-2009 season after joining Barcelona from the Gunners.

Henry was known for his incredible speed, technical ability, and clinical finishing, which made him a formidable attacking player throughout his career.

Thierry Henry

ST: Ronaldo (Brazil)

Don’t be mistaken, it is not Cristiano Ronaldo. The Brazilian striker is known as the “original” Ronaldo. The Brazilian No. 9 was Ronaldinho’s teammate and was known as the deadliest striker on the planet during his time. 

Ronaldo was crucial to Brazil’s 2002 World Cup victory, where he scored nine goals and earned the golden boot. To this day, there are not many players who have the special gift that Ronaldo had. He could have broken many records, but his career was cut short by regular injuries.


RW: Lionel Messi (Argentina)

And last but not least, arguably the greatest to ever grace the soccer pitch finishes up Ronaldinho’s ultimate UCL XI.

The seven times Ballon d’Or winner was teammates with the Brazilian icon at Barcelona. As of now, Messi has 156 Champions League appearances, with 4 UCL titles throughout the course.

Lionel Messi

Who didn’t make it?

There were some surprise inclusions, sure, but there were some very obvious names that didn’t make the list.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence in the lineup can be blatantly seen, as Thierry Henry takes the spot over the 5 times Ballon d’Or winner. The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Xavi, and Iniesta are also absent from the lineup.

Many would question the inclusion of the three former Chelsea players in the lineup, but hey, it’s Ronaldinho’s choice!

But what will be your own ultimate Champions League XI? We would definitely love to hear your opinion on this, so don’t forget to share your own team in the comments!

Tanzeem Rahman

255 articles

Tanzeem Rahman is a soccer writer and an editor at SportsZion. Tanzeem's love for the sport began by watching and admiring Cristiano Ronaldo in his early Manchester United days. Having graduated from Germany as an Electrical Engineer, Tanzeem has watched multiple high-profile games throughout Europe from the gallery. His knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport, as well as sublime english proficiency has been an asset to SportsKnot. Outside of his duty, Tanzeem is a gamer, and loves to spend time watching Anime and reading Manga.


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