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Legends everywhere

Which Champions League winning XI was better? Ajax 1995 vs Man United 2008

Two great teams, both with Edwin Van der Sar in goal, but which side comes out on top?

Here we have a heavyweight clash that would make Anthony Joshua tremble.

With Ajax and Man United set to battle it out for in the Europa League final we take a look back at two teams that dominated the Champions League over a decade apart.

It’s Ajax’s famous conquerors of 1995 against United’s champions of 2008.

But which side was better?

Edwin Van der Sar vs Edwin Van der Sar

Split loyalties

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Split loyalties

This contest starts with a draw given that both teams had the same ultra-reliable Dutchman between the sticks.

Van der Sar’s two Champions League wins were separated by 13 years; with Ajax he was a fresh-faced youth and with United he was an experienced, slightly greying campaigner.

A class act for both.

WINNER: Draw… obviously (0-0)

Michael Reiziger vs Wes Brown

Hands up if you only just realised that both teams played in their away kits

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Hands up if you only just realised that both teams played in their away kits

Let’s not forget that it was Brown, deputising for the injured Gary Neville, who provided the assist for Cristiano Ronaldo’s towering header in the 2008 final.

However, we’re giving this one to Reiziger.

A consistent performer, the Dutchman went on to have a distinguished career with Barcelona while Brown was always more of a fringe player at Old Trafford, albeit a very useful one.

WINNER: Reiziger (1-0 Ajax)

Danny Blind vs Rio Ferdinand

Probably going to watch highlights of the 2008 final after this

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Probably going to watch highlights of the 2008 final after this

Blind junior will of course be playing for United in Stockholm but his dear old dad is an Ajax legend for the ages.

Blind senior was the trophy-lifting captain in 1995 (as Ferdinand was in 2008) and did a superb job of shutting out Milan at the heart of Ajax’s back three.

But… we’re going with Rio.

Ferdinand at his peak was deceptively quick, strong as an ox’s weightlifting coach, and he read the game like it was a Biff and Chip book.

WINNER: Ferdinand (1-1)

Frank de Boer vs Nemanja Vidic 

I’m seeing double… FOUR De Boer brothers!

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I’m seeing double… FOUR De Boer brothers!

Another tight contest between two formidable defenders.

These two had contrasting styles.

De Boer was a cultured, ball-playing centre-back with an eye for a diagonal pass while Vidic was a take-no-prisoners beast.

At the risk of endangering our lives, we’re giving this one to De Boer, only just.

WINNER: De Boer (2-1 to Ajax)

Findi George vs Patrice Evra

All this photo does is remind me that Chelsea played Michael Essien at right-back

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All this photo does is remind me that Chelsea played Michael Essien at right-back

Because of the two teams’ different formations we are having to compare a right winger to a left back.

All we can do is analyse their careers in terms of prestige and influence.

In this criteria, Evra is the clear winner with seven league titles to George’s three.

WINNER: Evra (2-2)

Edgar Davids vs Owen Hargreaves

Being bundled over by Edgar Davids is one of football’s greatest honours

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Being bundled over by Edgar Davids is one of football’s greatest honours

Injuries robbed Hargreaves of the recognition his talent deserved.

In 2008 he was a key player for United but you only have to look at Davids’ resume to appreciate the quality of the man: Ajax, Milan, Juventus, Barcelona and Inter (not forgetting Spurs, Crystal Palace and the mighty Barnet).

WINNER: Davids (3-2 to Ajax)

Frank Rijkaard vs Michael Carrick

Men with hair like this have a 95% chance of stealing your girl

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Men with hair like this have a 95% chance of stealing your girl

Two players who would be happy to participate in passing drills until the inevitable rise of the lizard overlords.

Pep Guardiola recently named Carrick as the one player who would have made it into his Barcelona side and the fact he’s only represented England on 34 occasions is a disgrace.

But Rijkaard’s trophy cabinet is too obnoxiously large to ignore: seven league titles, three European Cups, a European Championship, and a whole mess of other trophies.

He also finished in the top three for the Ballon d’Or two years in a row.

WINNER: Rijkaard (4-2 to Ajax)

Clarence Seedorf vs Paul Scholes

UPLOAD FAILED: Image contains too much class

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UPLOAD FAILED: Image contains too much class

The toughest match-up of them all.

48 major trophies between these two greats of the game… bloody hell, that’s a lot, isn’t it?

We’re supposed to be deciding between them but we can’t stop imagining them playing together, it’s a blissful fantasy.

Flipping a coin would be the coward’s way out, we’re going to put our balls on the line… Scholes!

WINNER: Scholes (4-3 to Ajax)

Marc Overmars vs Cristiano Ronaldo

Chelsea played Essien at right-back so Fergie played Ronaldo at left-wing. It worked…

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Chelsea played Essien at right-back so Fergie played Ronaldo at left-wing. It worked…

We would never be so foolish as to overlook Overmars’ achievements in the game.

As current director of football at Ajax, the former Arsenal winger can take a lot of credit for revitalising the Netherlands’ sleeping giants.

And yet, Ronaldo is Ronaldo.

It’s human vs superhuman at the end of the day.

WINNER: Ronaldo (4-4)

Jari Litmanen vs Wayne Rooney

Prime Rooney was a genius, I don’t care what anyone says

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Prime Rooney was a genius, I don’t care what anyone says

Two players whose powers diminished quicker than they would have liked.

But let’s not dwell on the harsh judgement of Father Time.

Both were phenomenal in their prime but Rooney was a class above.

He is Man United’ all-time leading scorer after all.

WINNER: Rooney (5-4 to United)

Ronald de Boer vs Carlos Tevez

Definitely one of Shanghai Shenhua’s top 50 players ever

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Definitely one of Shanghai Shenhua’s top 50 players ever

Had this been Patrick Kluivert (who came off the bench to score the winner in 1995) we may have had a more even contest.

No disrespect to De Boer, but he’s not even the best player in his family.

Tevez’s pre-Chinese Super League mercenary career is one he can be extremely proud of, especially his two seasons at United as part of the devastating Ronaldo-Rooney-Tevez triplet.

WINNER: Tevez (6-4 to United)

There you have it, a comeback in Fergie time for Man United.

Will this have any bearing on the Europa League final?

No, of course not.

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