Paul Pogba’s Ultimate Rivals XI as Cristiano Ronaldo combines with five Chelsea stars

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At the age of 28, Paul Pogba has already had one hell of a career.

By 25, the La Havre youth product had won the World Cup, played in a Champions League final, left Manchester United for Juventus, and come back again for a world record transfer fee.

Although some would argue his career has stagnated in the past few years, Pogba's performances for the Red Devils at the back end of 2020-21 demonstrated why he remains one of the best players on the planet when on his game.

Often criticised, the 6ft 3in midfielder has produced some magnificent things on the pitch throughout his career and has spent his 10-season senior career up against football's elite.

Pogba cost United £89m to bring back to Manchester in 2016
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)

With his contract at Old Trafford expiring next summer, speculation over the Frenchman's future will no-doubt be rife during the European Championships.

France are joint-favourites with England for the tournament, looking to repeat their 1998-2000 triumph of winning back-to-back international titles.

Before it all gets started, Mirror Football takes a look at Pogba's most frequent opponents from down the years.

Ultimate Rivals XI – The Rules

  • Our Ultimate Rivals XIs are made up of players who have faced our subject player most often during their careers, both for club and country.
  • They have to have been on the pitch at the same time as our subject player, and stats are taken from all competitions.
  • The team isn't necessarily the 11 players who've faced our subject player the most, just an eleven that would fit into a team.
  • All appearance stats are taken from transfermarkt.com.
  • Let us know your thoughts on the teams in the comments.

Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio

Appearances against Pogba: 9

Starting between the sticks, Patricio leaves Pogba will bitter memories despite his positive record of four wins, three draws, and two defeats against the Portuguese stopper.

His penalty save at Molineux early in an injury-plagued 19-20 rubbed salt in the wounds after the 33-year-old Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper (then of Sporting CP) helped prevent Pogba from a home tournament victory in 2016, as France lost the EURO final against Portugal.

Manuel Neuer narrowly misses out on minutes played.

Right-back: Cesar Azpilicueta

Appearances against Pogba: 12

Pogba's tendency to drift out to the left flank means he regularly meets the determined Azpilicueta
(Image: Alex Livesey)

A trusty and reliable defender across the entire back line, it's no surprise that Azpilicueta often battles with the best.

Pogba has played Chelsea more than any other opposition outfit in his career (12 times, scoring once and assisting on three occasions), and the Spaniard is one of many to have worn London blue in this XI.

The United no. 6's mixed Chelsea record equates to 1.5 points-per-game when playing Azpilicueta, and it's never an easy task.

Centre-back: Antonio Rudiger

Appearances against Pogba: 11

Rudiger was named Man of the Match in his biggest meeting with Pogba
(Image: AFP)

Although Pogba may have beaten Rudiger two more times than vice versa, the German powerhouse has the more prestigious victories.

Rudiger earned MOTM in the 2018 FA Cup final as he and the Blues beat Jose Mourinho's men.

Two years later in a semi-final, the France international suffered defeat again as Frank Lampard's side marched to the final.

Set to soon meet in Group F at EURO 2020, Pogba will be desperate to give the Chelsea man a taste of his own medicine on the big stage.

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Centre-back: Harry Maguire

Appearances against Pogba: 10

Now teammates, Maguire gives the Frenchman his best PPG in this team.

2.1 is what Pogba currently boasts from his bouts with the injured England defender.

The pair represent the two favourites this summer, and could well face each other as soon as the round-of-16 stage.

With no disrespect to Hull City or even Leicester, their next clash will undoubtedly be their biggest yet.

Left-back: Marcos Alonso

Appearances against Pogba: 14

Pogba has spent more time facing Alonso than any other player
(Image: Darren Walsh)

As his most common opponent, Alonso is the only player to have spent over 900 minutes on the pitch with Pogba (by a distance, too – 1,196).

Having also fled to Serie A after a spell in England, the former Fiorentina full-back met the ex-Juventus star with La Viola on multiple occasions, following some meetings in youth football when the Spanish defender was with Bolton Wanderers.

Although Alonso was part of the team who beat the Old Lady and Pogba 2-1 in a Coppa Italia first leg, then the young French talent was out of the squad when Juve got a 3-0 revenge in the second leg and went on to win the competition.

With six wins and five losses, 'La Pioche' edges his frequent foe.

Centre-midfield: Jorginho

Appearances against Pogba: 13

Another who plied their trade in Italy but this time as a fellow blossoming midfielder, Jorginho has beaten Pogba just once in six clashes since leaving Napoli.

However, Pogba was only able to beat the Brazil-born Azzurri international twice in their five Italian meetings.

Despite playing in relatively similar positions, the pair's attributes mean they're polar opposites in the centre of the park.

Centre-midfield: Mateo Kovacic

Appearances againstPogba: 11

Kovacic is a four-time Champions League winner, a feat Pogba is yet to achieve once
(Image: Getty Images)

Sticking with the Serie A and Premier League mix, the Croatia international's tussles with Pogba for Inter Milan and Chelsea have seen him come out on top only once.

That was the aforementioned 2020 semi-final at Wembley when the modern footballing icon came off the bench with United needing to pull off a two-goal comeback before conceding again.

Kovacic's all-action approach has made for some scraps with Pogba and the former Real Madrid man, who speaks five languages, was an unused substitute in France's World Cup final win over Croatia in 2018.

Centre-midfield:Granit Xhaka

Appearances against Pogba: 11

Xhaka has rarely pulled punches during his bouts with Pogba
(Image: REUTERS)

Speaking of scraps – step forward, Mr Xhaka.

The combative midfielder may mostly have sparred with his Premier League colleague for Arsenal, but their first four meetings came wearing other shirts.

Group stage games at the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Euros sandwiched 2015-16 Champions League group matchups between Borussia Monchengladbach and Juventus.

Six of their clashes have ended in draws, but Pogba boasts four victories to Xhaka's one.

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Right-wing: Willian

Appearances against Pogba: 13

Continuing with the Gunners, tied in second place is the much-maligned Brazilian.

The pair faced off in Pogba's first term in Turin during the UCL group stage, and he played 90 minutes in a 0-1 win away to Willian's Shakhtar Donetsk.

Nevertheless, the winger can at least boast at being the only player in this XI to have a positive record when playing the 2013 Golden Boy (W5 D4 D4).

Centre-forward: Cristiano Ronaldo

Appearances against Pogba: 11

These two superstars each returned to their former homes when they met in the 18-19 Champions League

Having each played for United and Juventus, one would think Pogba and Ronaldo would've hardly met.

However, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner faced off against the Frenchman while he was at Real Madrid and CR7 has also done so on the international stage, such as the EURO 2016 final.

If Pogba heads to Madrid after leaving Old Trafford, the pair could well have similar career CVs – minus all of the records and awards Ronaldo has.

On the contrary – especially for romantic Juve and United fans – imagine those two at the same club at the same time. Scary.

Left-wing: Pedro

Appearances against Pogba: 12

Although the Spaniard's 510 minutes is much less than some of our subs, Pedro earns his place on appearances and is Pogba's most recent meeting in the XI.

The duo shared just over an hour on the pitch together last month as the Red Devils faced Roma in the Europa League, losing 3-2 but advancing to an unsuccessful final on aggregate.

In their initial meeting pictured above, the pair had contrasting evenings in Paris, as Pedro scored the only goal of the game prior to the 20-year-old prodigy being sent off late on for a tackle on Xavi.

Additionally, the ex-Barcelona winger came on against Pogba's Juventus in the 96th minute of the 2015 Champions League final when the game was already wrapped up 3-1.

Substitutes:

Manuel Neuer (9), Alessandro Florenzi (11), N'Golo Kante (10), Antonio Candreva (11), Eden Hazard (10), Raheem Sterling (11), Manolo Gabbiadini (11)

How would this team fare in a real match? Have your say in the comments section.

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