What started back in July 2017 at Víkingur Gøta and FC Alashkert ended on Saturday with the Death Star that is Real Madrid lifting their
What started back in July 2017 at Víkingur Gøta and FC Alashkert ended on Saturday with the Death Star that is Real Madrid lifting their 13th European Cup.
But which XI players deserve their places in the Champions League Team of the Season? Look away now Manchester United fans.
Goalkeeper: Alisson (AS Roma)
Probably the best shot-stopper in Europe this season, Alisson has gone from underground hit to full-blown mainstream success in the space of just 10 months. The Brazilian kept five clean sheets as Roma made their way to the semi-finals, with the 25-year-old almost single-handedly dragging them there with his performance in the last 16 against Shakhtar. There’s reasons he’s been described as the “Lionel Messi of goalkeepers”.
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
A stunning debut campaign from the teenager. Alexander-Arnold has that rare ability, in modern football anyway, to be a defender who can both attack, and actually defend. For some context: Cristiano Ronaldo has more hat-tricks than the Liverpool defender has played first-team games. And he hasn’t looked out of place once.
Centre-back: Kostas Manolas (AS Roma)
It would be easy to distill Manolas’ entire Champions League campaign down to that one moment against Barcelona, but the Roma defender has been so much more than that era-defining goal. The Greece international has truly come of age this term, leading the Giallorossi like a veteran. When Daniele De Rossi finally hangs up his boots, they have a ready-made replacement in this 26-year-old.
Centre-back: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Whatever you think of Sergio Ramos, you can’t argue with the facts: captain of Real Madrid in four victorious Champions League finals. His methods may leave something to be desired, but admit it – you want Sergio Ramos on your team. He’s the master of shithousery. Football’s ultimate bastard. He’s also a damn good centre back.
Left-back: Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Has there been a better piece of business anywhere in football over the past decade than the €7m Real Madrid paid Fluminense for Marcelo back in 2007? The 30-year-old has, once again, been utterly integral to the way Los Blancos play and contributed goals at crucial moments against Bayern Munich, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain this season.
Midfield: James Milner (Liverpool)
Sentences we didn’t think we’d be writing at the start of the season – Exhibit A: James Milner has the most assists in this season’s Champions League. In this age of super intense pressing, or ‘storming’, it’s the ‘interceptors’ rather than the ‘passers’ who are laying on the goals. That’s certainly been the case for the Liverpool man this season. His tireless running and reading of the play has seen him lay on eight goals for team mates. He’s 32 now and shows no sign of stopping.
Midfield: Luka Modrić (Real Madrid)
Unfortunately no one keeps an Opta-style record of the ‘pre-assist’, but if they did, Luka Modrić would be the king. Real Madrid’s bucolic Croat is the oil in their turbo-charged engine, the man that keeps them running no matter what. This season, the 32-year-old has been sensational. His performances against Juventus in Turin and in Saturday’s final were exceptional.
Midfield: Radja Nainggolan (AS Roma)
From the sublime, to the brilliantly ridiculous. If there’s one thing Radja Nainggolan isn’t it’s subtle. What the Roma midfielder is though, is a genuine force of nature worthy of almost any team in Europe. His all-action, bombastic displays dragged the Italian side out of arguably the toughest group in this season’s draw and then backed it up with a performance for the ages in the Remontada against Barcelona.
Forward: Wissam Ben Yedder (Sevilla)
Probably the surprise of this season’s Champions League, no one expected Sevilla to get out of their group after being demolished 5-1 by Spartak Moscow on match day two. But the Andalusians, thanks in large part to Ben Yedder’s goals, went all the way to the quarter-finals – the first time they’d done so since the 1960s. The 27-year-old bagged eight in total, including a historic double at Old Trafford, and earned his first France cap as a result. Chapeau.
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Five Champions League trophies. 120 goals. Tournament top goalscorer for the seventh time. Just when you think he might be tailing off, Cristiano Ronaldo keeps doing it on the biggest stage of them all.
Forward: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
It was a horrible way for Salah to end the season, but the final destination shouldn’t overshadow the journey. The Egyptian King has been unplayable in 2017/18, scoring 10 goals in the Champions League and generally striking fear into defences all over the continent. In fact, he’s been so unstoppable, the only way to get the better of him was to resort to some Judo.