UEFA has picked its Champions League squad of the season, just days after Liverpool were defeated by Real Madrid in the competition’s final in Paris.
Los Blancos beat the Reds 1-0 in the French capital in a game marred by ugly scenes outside the ground before and after.
The two finalists, predictably, dominate the XI, with each side fielding four players. The other three names are PSG, Chelsea, and Manchester City players.
Thibaut Courtois was selected in goal, most likely motivated by his final heroics, which included a number of brilliant saves from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
The Belgian will be particularly pleased that UEFA’s committee had shown him the requisite ‘respect’ that he demanded in many of his post-final media interviews.
Meanwhile, Liverpool dominates the back line, with three of their players picked with Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger in defence.
Virgil van Dijk was picked in the centre of defence with German Rudiger, with Andrew Robertson starting at left back. Despite his high-profile loss to Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior for the game’s lone goal on Saturday, Trent Alexander-Arnold completes the Liverpool defence.
Luka Modric was the clear choice in midfield despite tight competition. His efforts against PSG and Chelsea, particularly in the round of 16 and quarter-finals, appeared to guarantee him a place regardless of what transpired in the semi-finals and final.
Fabinho, who returned from injury for Saturday’s final, was named to the midfield three. His defensive performance for Liverpool has been consistently impressive this season, but his goal away at Villarreal in the semi-finals was critical to the Reds’ success.
Kevin De Bruyne was picked alongside Modric and Fabinho, with the City star playing pivotal roles in each of City’s knockout matches.
In attack, Liverpool fans may be surprised that neither Salah nor Mane made the starting lineup. Despite his team being eliminated at the first knockout stage, UEFA chose Kylian Mbappe to play in Salah’s normal right-side position.
However, the Frenchman had scored twice across the tie with Real Madrid prior to Karim Benzema’s astonishing second half rescue act.
After one of the genuinely great continental campaigns, Benzema’s 15 goals across the competition ensured him a berth in the squad.
Hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea, in particular, will live long in the memory of a club that has had many memorable nights on the European stage.
Vinicius’ deployment on the left completes the team. Having slipped under the radar due to Benzema’s out-of-this-world heroics, the Brazilian burst into the tournament at a critical juncture.
His goal to drag Real Madrid back to 3-2 at the Etihad was essential in the circumstances of that match, while his finish on Saturday night is self-explanatory!
So yeah, that is the team of the season! You can check out the entire team by clicking here!