The Champions League final is set to bring the curtain down on another thrilling season.
A black hole of anti-football awaits us once the final whistle blows and so we’re doing all we can to avoid thinking about the impending boredom.
Hence why we’ve taken a needlessly detailed look at the key players for Real Madrid and Juventus and identified a club team-mate from their past that tickled our curiosity in some way.
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.
Paulo Dybala and Kyle Lafferty
This odd couple is relatively common knowledge these days but that doesn’t make it any less unlikely.
Juventus’ golden boy teamed up with the Northern Ireland hero at Palermo in 2013/14.
Dybala is on for a possible treble while Lafferty has just been released by Norwich.
But for one glorious season they complemented each other beautifully while the Italian sun warmed their backs.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gerard Pique
These two have become so strongly associated with Real Madrid and Barcelona 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…
Leonardo Bonucci and Luis Figo
Incredibly, these two were at Inter together for the same four seasons.
But while Figo played 105 league games for the club, Bonucci turned out in the blue and black stripes just once in Serie A.
The Italian centre-back was shipped out on loan to Treviso and Pisa to learn his trade while the legendary Portuguese winger blessed team-mates with his experience and ability.
Inter must be gutted they let Bonucci go — he’s now one of the best defenders in the world.
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.
Sergio Ramos and Dani Alves
You know about this one.
Sevilla had two of the best young defenders 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.
Now they are up against each other in a Champions League final.
While we’re on the subject we may as well tick off a few more opposing finalists who used to sit next to each other on the team bus.
Karim Benzema and Miralem Pjanic were team-mates at Lyon while James Rodriguez and Alex Sandro enjoyed some time at Porto together.
Everyone knows that Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic are brothers in arms for Croatia but some of you may have forgotten they were club-mates as well as Dinamo Zagreb.
Right, back to random ones…
Gianluigi Buffon and Gianfranco Zola
Of course we had to rewind back to Buffon’s Parma days to find a suitably pleasing ex-team-mate for the most popular keeper in the world.
At 39-years-old, he’s shared a changing room with more players than you’be had hot dinners (and that’s not just aimed at the gazpacho lovers out there).
We probably should have gone with Hristo Stoichkov as the Barcelona and Bulgaria legend spent a single season in Italy which just so happened to be Buffon’s debut year.
But our Premier League bias led us to the little magician that is Zola.
The Chelsea legend wore size 5 boots and did wonderful things with them.
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 this years’ Players 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.
Giorgio Chiellini and Gabriel Batistuta
Chiellini was on Roma’s books for three seasons but never played a single game for the club.
The season he signed was Gabigol’s last for the Roma as the prolific Argentine forward’s powers diminished.
The thought of these two sharing a training ground even just once is too much for the average human to wrap their head around.
Juan Cuadrado and Alexis Sanchez
The Juventus winger was brought to Europe by Udinese in 2009.
His game time was somewhat limited because a certain Chilean superstar was working in tandem with Antonio Di Natale.
The Udinese scouts deployed in South America deserve a pay rise.
Isco and Ruud van Nistelrooy
Isco’s breakout season coincided with the Dutch poacher’s last in professional football.
Malaga had a few notable names on their books in 2011/12: Martin Demichelis, Joaquin, Jeremy Toulalon, Santi Cazorla, Willy Caballero, Nacho Monreal, Julio Baptista and Salomon Rondon included.
In fact our nostalgic bone was so tickled by the squad we decided to write a separate article about it.
Gonzalo Higuain and Radamel Falcao
These two hotshots have equally impressive goalscoring records in Europe but let’s not forget where they learned the art.
Higuain and Falcao together made River Plate’s shooting coach’s life very easy between 2005 and 2007.
At the time of writing this pair have 551 goals between them.
Can Higuain add to that in the final?