Here at Dream Team we love thinking of football as one enormous spider’s web.
Everyone and everything overlaps and interlocks in such strange and intricate ways that it can be hard to keep track of how all the players relate to each other.
Here we’ve taken a look at the key players for Real Madrid and Barcelona ahead of this weekend’s El Clasico and identified a club team-mate from their past that tickled our curiosity.
Some pairings we had forgotten about, some we never even knew existed, and some we remember like it was yesterday but they’re so bloody pleasing we wouldn’t dare leave them out.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gerard Pique
We start with two for the price of one.
These two have become so strongly associated with Madrid and Barca respectively that it’s almost impossible to imagine them sharing a changing room at Old Trafford in peaceful harmony.
Man United got plenty of service from Ronaldo, not so much Pique…
Lionel Messi and Oriol Romeu
The Argentine No10 has only ever blessed a Barcelona shirt in professional club football so plucking out an unexpected teammate wasn’t easy.
Then we remembered that Romeu was a La Masia graduate.
The Southampton midfielder played just two games for Barcelona’s first team in 2010/11 before Chelsea snapped him up.
Still, he played with Messi when the great man was in his absolute prime, how many of Southampton’s squad can say that?
Gareth Bale and Adam Lallana
Many moons ago the Welsh winger was a just humble left-back.
Southampton’s productive academy is responsible for nurturing 2016’s Player of the Year for both Wales and England.
Bale played 43 games for Southampton in 2006/07 whereas Lallana played just twice… but it still counts.
Paulinho and Ronaldo
Barcelona’s new midfield engine played with O Fenomeno at Corinthians in the 2010/11 season
Sure the legendary Brazilian forward was slightly more rotund than the Ronaldo who lit up the Nou Camp in 1996/97 but what an honour it must have been to share a changing room with him.
Karim Benzema and Hugo Lloris
The French forward was part of a dominant Lyon side in the mid-to-late 2000s.
Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Hatem Ben Arfa, Eric Abidal and John Carew were all worthy nominees for selection but we went with Spurs’ No1 simply because he’s at the peak of his relevance now.
Lloris came along a lot later than the rest of Lyon’s ‘golden generation’ and he only shared a changing room with Benzema for one season before Madrid swooped.
Benzema’s, shall we say, unique situation means he’s most definitely NOT team-mates with Lloris for France… shame.
Luis Suarez and Erik Nevland
The glorious image of Suarez sharing a pitch with Spurs trio Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen at Ajax is still fresh in our memory, but we thought that would be a bit obvious.
So we took a look at the Uruguayan’s solitary season with Groningen in 2006/07 and were pleasantly surprised to see Erik Nevland’s name in the same squad.
The Norwegian forward played just one league game for Man United between 1997 – 2000 but featured regularly for Fulham at the back end of his career.
Incredibly, Nevland outscored Suarez 13 goals to ten the season they were together.
Sergio Ramos and Dani Alves
You know about this one.
Sevilla had two of the best young defenders (if you can call Alves a defender) in the world on their books in 2004/05.
The former team-mates fought many a battle against each other as key players for Madrid and Barca respectively.
Imagine if Sevilla had kept them both…
Andres Iniesta and Luis Enrique
Barcelona’s masterful playmaker has been around so long he remembers what it’s like to share the pitch with his former manager.
What a time to be alive.
Toni Kroos and Sami Hyypia
This unlikely pair combined at Bayer Leverkusen when Kroos spent a season on loan there in 2009/10.
The Finnish legend was winding down his career in Germany having spent ten seasons with Liverpool.
Javier Mascherano and Teddy Sheringham
We know this happened, but it still doesn’t sound right.
Sheringham’s last season with West Ham conicided with the Hammers’ audacious (and illegal) double-signing of Mascherano and Carlos Tevez.
Two eras overlapping in a rowdy corner of east London.
Dani Carvajal and Arkadiusz Milik
You can always rely on Bayer Leverkusen to host a random pairing.
Madrid’s marauding right-back spent one season in the Bundesliga when Milik was learning the ropes as a teenager.
Now Napoli’s No99, the Serie A club signed him from Ajax to replace Gonzalo Higuain, but the Polish forward has spent most his time in the physio room.
Ivan Rakitic and Mesut Ozil
When the golden boy of German football threw his toys of the pram, Rakitic stepped up as Schalke’s creator-in-chief.
But for a few months they joined forces to make opposition midfield units chase shadows with helpless futility.
Rakitic’s years with the Royal Blues also saw him share a training ground with Manuel Neuer and Raul.
Luka Modric and Eidur Gudjohnsen
Madrid’s midfield maestro was team-mates with Dejan Lovren and Mario Mandzukic at Dinamo Zagreb but those pairings are rendered underwhelming because we’ve seen them as international team-mates on so many occasions.
But Gudjohnsen’s loan move to Spurs in 2010 provided a deeply satisfying solution.
Two players who share an appreciation for the sophisticated side of the game.
Arda Turan and Franck Ribery
For some reason we’d completely forgotten about the French winger’s 17-game spell for Galatasaray in 2005.
When we discovered that season also featured Turan’s professional debut we actually had to have a little sit down while we contemplated it all.
See Harry Kewell for an equally bizarre Turan team-mate from his time in Turkey.
We’d love to do this forever but we’re sure you’ve got better things we be getting on with.
As you were.