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Another season of the most prestigious club football championship started last week. The Champions League, unfortunately for all fans, will be held in front of the empty stands, but the presence of such football is already a huge gift for everyone in these difficult times of the pandemic.
One of the main attractions during the coronavirus lockdown is games. Everyone loves to play them, and the best football players on the planet are not an exemption. Introducing the Champions League Esports Top Eleven made up of avid gamers participating in the current tournament.
Club: Real Madrid
Game: Formula 1 sim
Thibaut Courtois is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He proved it in the Belgian national team and continues to prove it in the Real Madrid shirt. During the spring lockdown related to the coronavirus pandemic, the leading European championships were postponed, and the players could not even train. An ardent fan of cool cars and auto racing, Courtois decided to while away the time in racing simulators. The Belgian was so good at them that he even received an invitation to take part in the virtual Grand Prix of China with the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team, alongside the Formula 1 driver Alex Albon. In the race against the professional racers Charles Leclerc, Esteban Gutiérrez, Stoffel Vandoorn, and Carlos Sainz, the footballer finished 15th.
Thibaut Courtois is the goalkeeper for our Champions League esports top eleven.
Club: Manchester City
The young left-back moved to Manchester City in 2016 from Ufa but spent the first season and a half on loan at PSV in the Dutch league. Over time, Pep Guardiola (head coach of MC) started to give him more and more time on the field, and Zinchenko grew to be a world-class player. In the Ukrainian national team, Oleksandr plays in a more advanced attacking position than in his club. Zinchenko often spends his free time playing CS:GO. Judging by his performance for the Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev’s team against the Mikhail "Dosia" Stolyarov’s squad, as well as by the performance in the show match against the team of Fyodor Smolov, he spends a considerable amount of time in the Valve shooter.
Oleksandr Zinchenko occupies the leftmost position in the defensive trio of our esports Champions League team.
Club: Real Madrid
Raphaël Varane is only twenty-seven, but he has already achieved everything there is to achieve in football. He became the champion of Spain three times, won the Copa del Rey, the Club World Cup, won Champions League four times, and led the French national team to triumph at the World Cup 2018. There is no doubt that he will go down in history as one of the best center-backs of his generation. Raphaël loves football so much that he continues to play it off the field — his main playing leisure is the FIFA games series. In addition to that, the Frenchman loves to play Call of Duty and Fortnite with his teammates and even became the official ambassador of HyperX, the gaming peripherals manufacturer.
In our team, Raphaël Varane occupies his usual position as a central defender.
Sergi Roberto grew up in the small town of Reus in southern Catalonia. At the age of fourteen, he entered the La Masia youth system and has been with Barcelona ever since. His main position is right back. However, Sergi is a true utility player and is ready to play both on the left and in the center of midfield, and, if necessary, even fill the gap in the attack. Since childhood, Roberto loves reading books, and is also an avid gamer — he always takes his Nintendo Switch with him to away matches to play Mario Kart with teammates. But the Spaniard's greatest love is Fortnite. In order to be able to play it comfortably everywhere, he purchased GameBoks — a personalized suitcase with a PlayStation 4 and a monitor.
In our team, Roberto will cover the right flank of the defense.
Club: Real Madrid
Brazilian Casemiro is the pinnacle of evolution of a defensive midfielder role over the past two decades. He tackles well, it’s difficult to beat him both one-on-one and positionally, but at the same time, he has an excellent vision, a powerful and fairly accurate shot, and the ability to give a decisive through ball between the defenders. For Real Madrid, he appears to be a hybrid of two defensive midfielders from past years — Emerson and Xabi Alonso. His play is often criticized for overly aggressive tackles on the verge of a foul. But off the pitch, the Brazilian defensive midfielder loves to vent his emotions and sports aggression in CS:GO. His fascination with the shooter is not surprising, since the game is very popular in Brazil. Casemiro often plays it alongside his “Selecao” teammates.
In our Champions League esports team, he will be occupying the defensive midfielder position.
The position of the attacking left midfielder has always been special for the Brazilians. It was once occupied by such titans as Bebeto, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho. Since his transfer to Inter Milan, young Philippe was brought up as their successor. After a fruitful loan at Espanyol, he made a switch to Liverpool, where he became a world-class superstar. Last season, Coutinho was one of the orchestrators of Bayern Munich's success in the Champions League. The Brazilian national team player spends his free time with his friends Casemiro, Willian, Gabriel Jesus, and Neymar in CS:GO.
Philippe Coutinho is the leftmost midfielder for our team.
Club: Lokomotiv Moscow
Rifat Zhemaletdinov, a young graduate of Lokomotiv Moscow’s youth team, made his debut in big football in 2016. He spent the next two seasons with Rubin Kazan, but then returned to his native Loko, with which he got second place in the Russian championship for two years in a row and got into the Champions League. Among the achievements of Zhemaletdinov, one can also note the gold medal of the European Under-19 Championship in 2013. Since then, Rifat has played for all age categories of the Russian national team, and in the fall of last year, he was first called up to the senior squad. The main hobby of the midfielder is fishing, but his other favorite leisure is CS:GO. In the show match between the teams of Alexander Zinchenko and Fyodor Smolov, Rifat showed up big and got the best result — 77 kills.
Rifat Zhemaletdinov will be the right midfielder of our team.
Antoine Griezmann has been considered a promising winger since his earliest appearances for the Basque side Real Sociedad. In the 2012-2013 season, he almost single-handedly led the club to the Champions League, and his star grew. Two years later, Atletico Madrid paid the $30 million release clause, and coach Diego Simeone made him an attacking midfielder or a second striker. In this position, Antoine was able to fully realize his potential and in 2016 he was voted into the top three at the Ballon d'Or awards. However, his main achievement should rightfully be considered the gold medal of the World Cup in Russia. Griezmann is a well-known gamer — his love for various battle royales and football simulators has always been visible in his various interviews — but in the Moscow final he did something completely unexpected: he performed the viral Fortnite dance after he scored from the spot against the Croatian national team. No one else has done such an incredible advertising job for Epic Games.
Griezmann will be the link between attack and midfield in our team.
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
The world football community learned about fifteen-year-old Neymar from the highlights on YouTube. At that time, many thought that he was just a showboating dribbler who would not amount to much in Europe. However, after his transfer from Santos to Barcelona, he very quickly shut up his critics. At Barça, he won the Treble (two home competitions and the Champions League) and was in the top-3 of Ballon d'Or several times, while he also played 100 matches and scored 64 goals for Brazil by the age of 28. Many players, coaches, and analysts rightfully call him the best player on the planet after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Neymar's love for CS:GO is unlikely to be a revelation for anyone. But it’s not just about the game itself for him — he is rooting for his compatriots at international esports tournaments and is even personally acquainted with the FURIA Esports co-owner André Akkari. The Brazilian often plays CS:GO with his teammates from the national team and also streams on Twitch.tv.
Neymar becomes the first of our three attackers.
Club: Manchester City
Argentine forward Sergio "Kun" Aguero has become one of Sheikh Mansour's most important transfers since the 2008 acquisition of the club. His goal against QPR, which brought the club its first league title in 44 years, became one of the brightest and most memorable football moments of the past decade. Unfortunately, throughout his career, he has been plagued with injuries, but even despite them, he was able to become the most prolific foreigner in the history of the English Premier League — he has more than 180 goals to his name, more than the legendary Thierry Henry. In times of pandemic and lockdowns, the Argentinian found a new calling in himself — streaming on Twitch. The striker streamed everything he could think of — GTA V, horror games, chat with his viewers, FIFA, and he even watched the videos of himself on YouTube. But his most popular streams were those of Fortnite. It was during them that the footballer had the most fun, which, in turn, was fun for his audience.
In our esports team, "Kun" Aguero will threaten the opponent's goal from the right side.
Club: Lokomotiv Moscow
Fyodor Smolov spent the main part of his career in the Russian championship in three clubs: Dynamo Moscow, Krasnodar, and Lokomotiv Moscow. As part of Krasnodar, the striker became the top scorer of the tournament twice and was also named the player of the season once. Since 2012, he was actively called up to the national team, for which he managed to net 14 goals. The Russian spent his last season on loan at the Spanish Celta. Fyodor only managed to score twice for the club from Vigo, but both goals fell on the most important matches of the season — against Real Madrid and Barcelona. This spring, Smolov captained his CS:GO team in a show match against friends of Alexander Zinchenko. His squad managed to take the W in two maps, but the footballers decided to also play the third map. In total, the striker got 50 kills. Smolov's love for CS:GO can be seen from his Steam account: Fedor's inventory is estimated at more than $26,000.
Fyodor Smolov is a center forward of our Champions League top eleven.
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