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    Chelsea star Antonio Rudiger calls Kepa ‘my brother’ as he breaks silence on training ground bust-up on Instagram

    ANTONIO RUDIGER has called Kepa Arrizabalaga his ‘brother’ after finally breaking his silence following their training ground bust-up.The two Chelsea stars had to be pulled apart during a tempestuous Easter Sunday session.
    Antonio Rudiger played down his scrap with Chelsea team-mate Kepa – calling the Spaniard his ‘brother’ in a post on Instagram
    Boss Thomas Tuchel described the fight as being ‘serious’.
    But Rudiger has moved to play down the row by calling Kepa ‘mi hermano’ – which translates to ‘my brother’ in the goalkeeper’s native Spanish.
    In a post to his Instagram Story, the German defender shared a picture of the pair hugging during a game, with the caption sprawled across it.
    The pair were playing in a small-sided game organised for those who missed out on the 5-2 thrashing at home to West Brom.
    Kepa reportedly gave Rudiger ‘a few verbals as the match was going on’.
    The pair then collided when going for a loose ball which ended up in a shoving match.
    Tuchel dismissed Rudiger to the changing room before admitting while the incident was ‘serious’, neither star would be punished.
    The Blues boss said: “We calmed the situation immediately.

    “They can happen because everyone is competitive in training.
    “They cleared the air and there was nothing left afterwards.
    “They solved it in an honest and humble way.
    “For this situation, there will be no punishment.”
    Ben Chilwell and Kurt Zouma later poked fun of the whole incident with a play-fight of their own during a training session earlier this week.
    On Wednesday, Chelsea bounced back from their shambolic weekend by beating Porto 2-0 in the away leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash.
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Thomas Tuchel says Rudiger and Kepa won’t be punished for Chelsea training ground scrap More

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    Chelsea coach Neil Bath is the man behind Blues’ youth academy, and has developed £500 million worth of amazing talent

    IN 2004, after 12 years with the club, Chelsea named Neil Bath as their academy director.Little did anyone know at that time, if you fast-forward 17 years, the fruits of his labours would be dominating the football landscape in England and overseas.
    Chelsea’s head of youth development Neil Bath has run the club’s brilliant academy since 2004 moulding £500m worth of talentCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    When the die-hard Blues fan, now 55, was installed in his new position he set about completely restructuring the West Londoner’s youth programme – with a greater emphasis on procuring and developing the best talent in London and the South-East.
    In the last year, the likes of Porto slayer Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi have been testament to his work – heralding a new dawn in the Chelsea first team of talented youngsters.
    While another Bath protege, Andreas Christensen made his 100th appearance in a Chelsea shirt in the FA Cup fifth round tie against Barnsley – the first academy graduate since John Terry to achieve that feat.
    And just as impressive are the ones who the club let go, including Declan Rice, Nathan Ake, Ryan Bertrand, Tariq Lamptey and more.
    German website Transfermarkt, which offers conservative transfer values of players, crunched the numbers.

    However, taking into account Hudson-Odoi was subject to a £70million bid from Bayern Munich in 2020, the transfer fees could be at least double those suggested figures.
    All in all, through the years, SunSport believes Bath has remarkably overseen the development – on and off the pitch – of around £500million worth of football talent.


    In 2020, Bath, now head of youth development, was recipient of the Eamonn Dolan award in recognition of his excellent work in youth development for Chelsea.
    His former students queued up to pay their tributes to the man who moulded them into the players they are today for a clip on Chelsea TV.
    Mason Mount called Neil Bath an inspiration to him who helped him achieve his dream to play for ChelseaCredit: AP:Associated Press
    Tammy Abraham, lifting the FA Youth Cup, revealed his years working with Bath were the “best of his life”Credit: Getty Images – Getty
    Mason Mount was one of the many graduates who shared his gratitude for his former coach. “I have nothing but praise to say about Neil,” he said.
    “He’s an inspiration to us all – all the academy players coming through.
    “I started in the academy when I was six-years-old and he helped me so much.
    “The way the academy is set up, the way we work, when we’re younger it puts us in the right mould to push us and keep getting better and better.
    “The winning mentality that he brings, it shows in every game we try to play and try to win, and it shows in the youth academy with how many trophies we’ve won.”
    While Tammy Abraham revealed his days working with Bath were the “best years of his life”.
    “He’s shown so much belief in the young lads and myself, and that’s what drew me to Chelsea,” he divulged.
    Bath chats with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in 2007Credit: AFP – Getty
    Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and his assistant Jody Morris show their appreciation for BathCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    ‘What they are doing at the academy is an amazing job, there’s nothing like it.
    “Them years I had in the academy were probably the best years of my life.”
    From the offset, Bath, who began working for Chelsea in 1992 as a part-time schoolboys’ coach, focused on developing Premier League talent, once a significant investment was made into the academy.
    In the exciting revamp, the club relocated its youth and first-team training facilities from Harlington to Cobham.
    As he put it on Chelsea’s website back in 2019, it was a plan that was 15 years in the making.
    “It’s what we’ve been working towards for 15 years since we restructured the Academy in 2004,” he said.
    “We’ve always been very clear that our job is not really to win youth trophies year after year, but to develop and produce Chelsea and Premier League players.”
    Bath added: “We have to set our ambitions high because we want to be the best football academy in the world and the number one choice for players and parents.”
    Chelsea fan Bath explained his masterplan was 15 years in the makingCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Bath oversees everything at the academy, here standing with Joe Edwards, ex-assistant manager Jody Morris and U23 Manager Andy MyersCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Turning rough diamonds into winners is, perhaps, the hardest thing to do in youth football.
    But since 2010, Chelsea have proved their academy to be, if not the best, one of the most successful in world football.
    They’ve won the FA Youth Cup an astonishing seven times during that period, including five in a row from 2014 – equalling the record of the infamous Busby Babes of Manchester United that stood for 50 years.
    Their U18s have been national champions twice and southern champions four times.

    While on the European stage, the kids have won the Uefa Youth League twice.
    But it’s not all about making first class footballers. Developing the boy into a respectful and educated man is also part of the process.
    Bath has spoken in the past how he and his assistant Jim Fraser understand the importance of that.
    “We’re currently the reigning Premier League champions from Under-13 to U16, which is a really positive sign,” he said in 2019, “and we’ve just achieved our best-ever GCSE results.
    Chelsea’s youth teams have tasted incredible success since 2010Credit: Getty Images – Getty
    Mason Mount lifts the FA Youth Cup in 2017 alongside Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi who are now first team starsCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Ola Aina, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathan Ake and Kurt Zouma pose with the Premier League trophy 2017Credit: Getty Images – Getty
    “We need to make sure these boys have all the characteristics and attributes, as footballers and as young men, to follow the likes of Ruben, Mason, Fikayo and Tammy.
    “When first-team coaching staff speak so highly about them as people, how they are humble and respectful, how they work so hard every day and set the standards in training, that’s also incredibly nice to hear and reinforces the culture we have built.”
    Of course, not every young player is going to make it – that is the harsh reality of football.
    For every Mount, Loftus-Cheek, Abraham or Christensen there’s a Declan Rice, Eddie Nketiah, Tariq Lamptey and Nathan Ake that had to prove their worth elsewhere, and who would now command huge transfer fees.
    But perhaps the biggest star who slipped through the net was Kylian Mbappe.
    In 2012, the French superstar, then 13, was invited for a trial to Cobham. However, when he was asked to return for another trial, his mum refused point black.
    Daniel Boga, who worked as an international scout at Chelsea until 2014, explained to Goal: “He took a trial and didn’t end up convincing us because he didn’t offer enough defensively.
    “So, they asked his mother if he could come back for a second trial and she said no.”
    Mbappe was playing at a small club in the suburbs of Paris called Bondy at that time, and his mum Fayza believed he was destined for the top.
    Kylian Mbappe was on trial at Chelsea, but didn’t impress Blues coaches
    £70m-rated West Ham star Declan Rice was schooled at Chelsea’s academy before he was released in 2014Credit: Rex Features
    “My son will not go back, either they sign him now or within five years they’ll have to offer 50 million euros to tie him down,” she said as per Boga.
    The reason for Chelsea’s reluctance to sign Mbappe on the spot was that they didn’t see enough quality in him when he wasn’t with the ball.

    “Defensively, he wasn’t quite there,” Boga said.
    “When he received the ball he was incredible, but without the ball he didn’t do much.”
    It goes to show, you have to do more to impress Bath and his team to get your chance to learn at this fame academy.
    Mason Mount reacts to grabbing his first Champions League goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 away win against Porto More

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    Porto 0 Chelsea 2: Mount’s first Champions League goal and late Chilwell strike put Blues in charge of quarter-final tie

    THOMAS TUCHEL admitted it was ‘unfair’ to leave Mason Mount out in his first game as manager back in January.It would be downright silly for the German to make the same mistake again.
    Mason Mount celebrated after scoring the opener in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over PortoCredit: Getty
    Ben Chilwell expertly rounded the keeper for Chelsea’s second in SevilleCredit: Reuters
    The kid who has been on the books at Chelsea since he was eight years old is now simply undroppable after yet another starring performance.
    And nobody else is worthy of that tag in a hugely expensive team still trying to find its feet under a new coach. 
    The exquisite way in which he punched a hole in Porto’s granite defence with such elegance marked a new high for him and the perfect way for his team to respond to last weekend’s humiliation.
    A first Champions League goal for Mount, a blinding result for Chelsea in this quarter final first leg.
    It is only fitting that in the two-legged shake up it will count double as an away goal even though the match was played on neutral territory in Seville.
    For everything Mount does for Chelsea seems to be worth twice as much as on paper during his rapid emergence as the best all-rounder at the club and a shoe-in to become the next captain.
    And if ever a short, sharp answer was needed to answer the absurd debate about Mount’s talent and worth on a football pitch it came in a three second burst during the first half last night.
    Accepting a pinpoint pass from Jorginho with his back to goal, Mount used his left foot to drag the ball under his leg Cruyff style.
    The in-form England star’s first-half strike gave Chelsea a crucial away goalCredit: AP
    Chelsea celebrated taking a first-half lead, putting themselves in a strong position in the tieCredit: AFP

    With Porto’s left back still spinning to the ground in dismay, Chelsea’s most exciting young star took aim with his ‘weaker’ right foot and pulled a shot across the area and into the opposite bottom corner of the net.
    On TV, Robbie Savage did his best to talk us through the move as if it was the sort of routine trick he pulled every week playing for Leicester.
    But it was just as mind-boggling to hear it described. 
    It was a moment of class and a signal that Mount is now officially the man for the big nights which are the usual territory for a club with serious ambitions.
    There is no reason why the most modest of midfielders cannot become a giant for Chelsea and follow in the footsteps of Didier Drogba, his mentor Frank Lampard and legendary skipper John Terry.
    It is not a case of what does Mason Mount do anymore, rather what can’t he do?
    He won the match for Chelsea at Fulham earlier this season on an evening they were battered from start to finish.
    He dug out a point on a below par afternoon in Southampton some weeks later.
    Mason Mount scored his first-ever Champions League goal in true styleCredit: Getty
    Even during Saturday’s 5-2 humbling at home against West Brom, Mount came off the bench on a day he was supposed to be resting, to score a consolation goal.
    Mount turned 22 six days before that key Fulham victory. He was born just five months and one day before Kai Havertz.
    But with the maturity of his football, Mount looks five years older.
    Thrown up top as a false nine last night, he failed to find a way through whereas Mount got the one chance that came his way in the first half and tucked it away.
    Mount was still gamboling around the pitch when Havertz and his equally ineffective countryman Timo Werner were substituted in the 65th minute, having both failed to make any impact.
    The 32nd minute goal managed to settle Chelsea nerves too and ensure a solid if not spectacular performance on the night.
    But considering Tuchel travelled to Spain with a clean sheet his top priority he will be well happy.
    The defence was ripped apart from the weekend. Kurt Zouma, Marcos Alonso and Thiago Silva ditched. Rightly so in the case of the veteran Brazilian.
    Ben Chilwell celebrated after doubling Chelsea’s lead with five minutes to playCredit: Getty
    How Jorginho survived his torrid performance against West Brom can only be down to injuries.
    But he redeemed himself with the sublime through ball that helped put Chelsea firmly in command against the Portuguese champions.
    The slow-motion way Ben Chilwell’s cool, calm run and rounding of the keeper ended with the ball rolling into the back of the net allowed time for the significance of a second away goal to sink in.
    Porto are rugged however and it would be naive to write off the team that knocked out Juventus in the last round while playing with ten men.
    But it is now Chelsea’s tie to lose.
    With five changes last night to the team that crumbled against West Brom, which in turn had six changes to the game before that, it is clear Tuchel fancies the idea of squad rotation. 
    As long as it revolves around Mount it should be OK.
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Thomas Tuchel says Rudiger and Kepa won’t be punished for Chelsea training ground scrap More

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    Watch Mason Mount’s stunning turn and finish as Chelsea star bamboozles Porto for first-ever Champions League goal

    MASON MOUNT scored his first Champions League goal in true style to give Chelsea an all-important lead en route to a 2-0 win over Porto in Seville.The on-fire England midfielder, 22, put the Blues 1-0 up with an all-important away goal after just half an hour in the south of Spain – where the game is behind played due to coronavirus restrictions.

    Mason Mount scored his first-ever Champions League goal with a superb turn and strike against PortoCredit: AP
    With the game poised evenly at 0-0, Jorginho carried the ball towards the right wing.
    The Italy international – who was slated for his shambolic display during the 5-2 loss at home to West Brom – found Mount with an inch-perfect pass.
    Mount then beautifully dragged the ball away from his defender with just one touch, setting himself through on goal.
    Spinning into the box, the Chelsea ace picked his spot and rifled an unstoppable shot into the far corner.
    Mount had been fairly quiet by his standards up until the moment he blew the tie wide open.
    But BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Clinton Morrison expected nothing else from the ‘big-game’ player.
    Morrison said: “Porto have done well but Chelsea have defended really well so far and have dominated possession.
    “It only took half a chance for Mason Mount to make the goal for himself.
    Mount celebrated giving his side the lead – and vital away goal – against Porto in SevilleCredit: Getty

    “He hasn’t really been in the game but it only took one chance for him.
    “Big players turn up for big games and at that point, Mount turned up.”
    Mount had never scored in the Champions League before his strike against Porto.
    And in doing so, he became the youngest Chelsea player to score in a Champions League knockout game ever, aged 22 years and 87 days.
    The BT Sport studio erupted in a sea of praise for Mount’s turn and strike.
    Ex-Chelsea ace Joe Cole said: “It’s all about the turn, he takes it on his weaker foot.
    “He knows where it’s going, it’s perfect. And the composure to strike it across the keeper…”
    Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand called it an ‘exquisite finish’, adding: “The turn was immaculate.”
    And Glenn Hoddle chipped in: “He’s a great player, and that turn was sensational.”
    Writing on Twitter, Gary Lineker called the turn and hit ‘sensational stuff’.
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Thomas Tuchel says Rudiger and Kepa won’t be punished for Chelsea training ground scrap More

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    Ex-Chelsea ace Jesper Gronkjaer reveals brave four-year battle with depression and stress but is now off medication

    FORMER Chelsea star Jesper Gronkjaer has opened up on his four-year battle with depression and stress.The Denmark winger made 119 Blues appearances, scoring 11 goals, following a £7.8million move from Ajax in 2000.
    Former Cheslea and Atletico Madrid star Jesper Gronkjaer has revealed his battle with depressionCredit: Getty
    Jesper Gronkjaer sped down the wing during his time with ChelseaCredit: EPA
    He left in 2004 to spend a year with Birmingham City, and played for Atletico Madrid, Stuttgart and Copenhagen before retiring in 2011.
    Gronkjaer has since worked as a pundit for Danish TV. However he was diagnosed with depression in 2017, and spent over nine months off sick.
    The 80-cap international has now revealed he has finally come off his medication.
    Gronkjaer posted a picture of his Escitalopram anti-depressant tablets on Twitter.
    The 43-year-old wrote: “Last pill taken 3 3/4 years after the first … hopefully!
    “You were a good support, despite all your side effects, as the stress and depression rumbled away.
    “Although it was never a goal to let you out of my life, I think it is the right time. #depression #stress #burnout.”
    Escitalopram is a powerful drug used to treat anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder or panic attacks as well as depression.

    Gronkjaer previously spoke of his torment in a 2019 Danish TV interview.
    He said: “I didn’t realise I was about to drive over the edge. I got sick with severe stress and burnout.
    “I got extreme headaches, and would stare at the wall. I couldn’t listen to music or watch TV.
    “I had rashes and lost hair, had disturbed vision and was in so much pain.
    “I had to make a clean break with all the work I was part of.”
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    YOU’RE NOT ALONEEVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
    It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
    It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
    And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
    Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
    That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
    The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
    Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.
    If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support: More

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    N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic in Chelsea squad for Porto showdown in huge injury boost for Thomas Tuchel

    CHELSEA have been given a huge boost with N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic named in the squad for Wednesday night’s clash at Porto.Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has confirmed both players are fit to travel for the Champions League quarter-final first-leg.
    N’Golo Kante is fit enough for the Chelsea bench after a minor knock on France dutyCredit: AFP
    Christian Pulisic is fit following a scare during last weekend’s defeat against West BromCredit: EPA
    Kante missed the 5-2 thumping at home to West Brom with a muscular injury, while Pulisic was taken off at half-time with a hamstring issue.
    But both are ready for action, with Tammy Abraham also returning after an eight-game absence with a foot injury.
    Tuchel confirmed: “They are fit enough to be in the squad and will be in the squad so this is good news.
    “Christian went out right before the injury could happen.
    “He said at half-time he felt if he continued it would be an injury coming so we had to take him off.
    “Tammy is in the squad and [Kante] just did the last test and will be on the bench.
    “He feels very comfortable and comfortable enough to be on the bench.
    A thrilled Tuchel added: “I’m super happy because today is the first time everybody is back in training so this is what you want.

    “We will have some major decisions to take and I have the feeling that we’re absolutely ready for [Wednesday’s] game.”
    Chelsea will take on Porto at Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, with the game moved from Portugal due to coronavirus restrictions.
    And Tuchel has admitted Olivier Giroud could play a part in the game against Porto having scored FOUR at the same stadium against Sevilla in the group stages.
    Tuchel added: “He’s in the running and in the squad.
    “He’s absolutely excited to return to Sevilla and play there so it gives him a good feeling.
    “He’s been very strong for us in the Champions League and he has history in Sevilla scoring many goals in this campaign.”
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Porto vs Chelsea – Watch LIVE for FREE, channel info and kick-off time More

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    Tuchel says Kepa and Rudiger’s Chelsea bust-up was ‘serious’… but Chilwell and Zouma still make light of it at Cobham

    CHELSEA boss Thomas Tuchel has admitted the training ground bust-up between Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga was ‘serious’.But defender Ben Chilwell attempted to make light of the situation today in training when he jokingly punched Kurt Zouma before the pair had a laugh.
    Ben Chilwell jokingly punched team-mate Kurt ZoumaCredit: Twitter @NizaarKinsella
    The mood at Chelsea still appears to be quite good despite the Kepa-Rudiger bust-up and the thrashing by West BromCredit: Twitter @NizaarKinsella
    Rudiger and Kepa had to be pulled apart during a fiery Easter Sunday session.
    The pair were playing in a small-sided game organised for the players who missed out on Saturday’s 5-2 thrashing by West Brom.
    Spanish goalkeeper Kepa reportedly gave Rudiger ‘a few verbals as the match was going on’.
    They then collided when going for the ball, and ended up in a shoving match before Tuchel dismissed Rudiger to the changing room.
    Tuchel said that the incident was serious but that Rudiger and Kepa would not be punished.
    The Blues gaffer said: “We calmed the situation immediately.
    “They can happen because everyone is competitive in training.
    “They cleared the air and there was nothing left afterwards. They solved it in an honest and humble way.

    Thomas Tuchel has admitted the training ground fight was ‘serious’Credit: PA

    “For this situation, there will be no punishment.”
    Chelsea’s 14-game unbeaten run in all competitions under Tuchel came to an end on Saturday in a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of West Bromwich Albion.
    But the German insisted there was no panic heading into the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against FC Porto on Wednesday.
    He added: “We got a big slap in the face, and it was required to remind us how tough it is to keep winning.
    “I have the feeling we can overcome Porto but it will be tough. They are very experienced, but we are strong enough and believe in ourselves.”
    Tuchel confirmed winger Christian Pulisic was in the squad after suffering a hamstring scare against West Brom, while midfielder N’Golo Kante is only fit enough to make the bench.
    Antonio Rudiger was dismissed to the changing roomCredit: Reuters
    Kepa was not backing down against burly centre-half RudigerCredit: PA

    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Marcos Alonso says that Chelsea training ground bust-up between Rudiger and Kepa will happen again More

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    Spain legend Fernando Torres picks best XI of players he’s played with and puts Gerrard vs Lampard argument to bed

    FERNANDO TORRES has picked the topt XI of players he played alongside during his glittering career – and put the Steven Gerrard vs Frank Lampard debate to bed.The Spain star, 37, hung up his boots in 2019 after stints at Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea, AC Milan and Sagan Tosu.

    Having also played in his nation’s Euro 2008 and 2012 triumphs – and the 2010 World Cup – Torres has had some highly talented team-mates down the years.
    Check out who makes his XI, below…
    Jan Oblak, John Terry, Carles Puyol, Diego Godin
    TWO from Atletico Madrid – the masters of defending – one from Chelsea and one from Spain…
    Torres has plumped for Oblak in goal, with the Slovenian stopper arguably the best goalkeeper on the planet at present.
    Terry makes it into the XI after Torres’ brief spell at Chelsea, while Spain team-mate Puyol and Atleti pal Godin form a rock-solid back-three.
    Torres named Gerrard over Lampard in his attacking midfield slotCredit: PA:Press Association
    Javier Mascherano, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard
    IN a four-man midfield, THREE Liverpool stars make the cut.
    And leading the headlines is the inclusion of Stevie G, who edges out Lampard in the starting XI – playing just off the strikers.
    It’s not too much of a surprise given Torres called the Kop idol his best-ever team-mate on announcing his retirement.
    Mascherano and Alonso join Gerrard in the middle, with the Argentine at the base of the diamond.
    Also in the midfield is Spain team-mate Xavi – helping form a centre-mid Xavi-Alonso partnership.

    Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres, David Villa
    UP FRONT, Torres has picked himself to lead the line.
    In his prime he was possibly the best striker on the planet.
    He’s joined by Spain team-mates Villa and Iniesta in providing a threat going forward – two of his country’s all-time greats.
    Torres named David Villa as his partner in attack of his best XI
    Watch Steven Gerrard’s testimonial video message to old Liverpool team-mate Fernando Torres after the Spaniard’s final game More