In our next instalment of the NIVEA Men campaign, we have selected three of Real Madrid's best defensive midfielders to have played in the 2000s. Vote for whom you think is the best of the illustrious trio, and stand a chance to win a replica shirt and a NIVEA Men hamper!
Click through the gallery above to see the three defensive midfield options for SA's Real Madrid Dream Team!
Option 1: Xabi Alonso (2009-2014)
After a successful period in Liverpool, Xabi Alonso went back to his native Spain to join Real. Known as an elegant midfielder with superb vision and passing ability, he joined a squad on the rise. Picking and spraying passes for fun, the former Spain international played a vital role in Los Blancos' triumphant 100-point league campaign under Jose Mourinho in the 2011/12 season. In his final year at the club, he helped the side win La Decima (the 10th UEFA Champions League title). Overall, he made 236 appearances for Los Blancos, scoring six goals and assisting another 32 strikes. He collected one LaLiga trophy, two Copa del Reys and one Supercopa de Espana in addition to La Decima during his time in Madrid.
Option 2: Claude Makelele (2000-2004)
The father of defensive midfielders, Claude Makelele revolutionised football. Through his playing style, he created an entirely new position on the pitch. After impressing at Celta Vigo, then Los Blanco manager Vicente del Bosque acquired his services. In his four-year stay at the Santiago Bernabeu, he helped form the base of the "Galacticos" team of the early 2000s. The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Santiago Solari and company played with freedom as he would do all the dirty work, winning the ball back quickly and setting up attacks. During his time with the Spanish giants, the former France international made 145 appearances, winning one Champions League trophy, two LaLiga titles, one European Super Cup and two Supercopa de Espanas.
Option 3: Casemiro (2012-present)
The Brazilian joined Real's famed Castilla academy in 2012, before gaining promotion to the first team in 2013. A hard-tackling and combative midfielder, Casemiro was crucial to the club's recent European dominance. With his defensive steel in midfield, he formed an integral part of the four Champions League titles Los Blancos collected in the past five years. In addition to his UCL success, he has also won one LaLiga title, one Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de Espana, three UEFA Super Cups and three FIFA Club World Cups with Los Blancos. At the age of 27, he has established himself as one of the leaders and mainstays at the Santiago Bernabeu, having made 206 appearances, scoring 20 goals and assisting 14 further strikes.
South Africa, the choice is yours! Which defensive midfielder would you like to vote for to be part of our Real Madrid Dream Team?
Vote for your favourite in the poll below to enter the draw!
Remember, by voting, you are automatically entered into the competition to win a NIVEA Men hamper worth R1 000 as well as a replica Real Madrid jersey!