Messi, Haaland, Mbappe: The best XI in the Champions League this season


Manchester City and Chelsea will officially contest the 2021 Champions League final.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have waved goodbye to Europe’s premier competition, making for the second all-Premier League final that we’ve seen in the last three seasons.

However, even if the St. George’s cross will fly highest over the Atatürk Olympic Stadium on May 29, there’s no denying that the Champions League has witnessed quality across the board in 2020/21.

2020/21 Champions League

As such, here at GIVEMESPORT, we thought the time was ripe to assess who would make up the best starting XI that the Champions League has witnessed across the course of the campaign.

Now, of course, we could see a spectacular final performance that tips the balance in the favour of a certain City or Chelsea player, but we already have 99% of the action to make our choices from.

We’re informing our decisions based on data and statistics, as well as how amazing they’ve been to watch, with any ‘ratings’ we refer to in our selections coming from WhoScored’s massive data bank.


Champions League XI of the season

However, disclaimers aside, I’m sure you can smell the debate and controversy already, so be sure to stick your knife and fork into our selections down below and tell us what you think down.

GK – Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)

No one’s contesting this, are they? Nobody has kept more clean sheets in the Champions League this season, securing a mind-boggling eight shutouts in 11 games en route to the final.


RB – Juan Cuadrado (Juventus)

An anomalous shining light in Juventus’ latest Champions League plight, Cuadrado was a creative wizard on the defensive flank for the Old Lady, topping the assist charts with six in just six games.

CB – Ruben Dias (Manchester City)

Dias is the unmoving warrior behind City’s charge to the final with the Citizens conceding just four goals when he’s been on the pitch and I mean, did you see his masterclass against PSG?!


CB – Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

The second-highest-rated Champions League centre-half this season, Marquinhos also has an uncanny eye for a goal in Europe, scoring against both Bayern and City in the knockout rounds.

LB – Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

The real-life incarnation of a FIFA Street player, Cancelo has been here, there and everywhere for City with both defensive and offensive class, becoming the best full-back in Europe this season.


CM – Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Bayern may have failed to retain their European crown, but it certainly wasn’t down to a lack of effort from Kimmich whose four assists helped him become the competition’s highest-rated midfielder.

CM – Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Pound-for-pound, you’d be hard-pressed to say there’s been a better player in the Champions League this season with four goals and three assists just scratching the surface of his influence.


CAM – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Call me a slave to the stats, do it, but when we’re talking about a player boasting a higher rating than every other player in the competition by miles and miles, I can hardly leave them out, can I?

Let’s put things like this, Messi is the same distance above the second-highest-rated player as the distance between said silver-medalist and the footballer all the way down in 18th. Mental.

But even if you think the data is absolute nonsense, albeit informed by tonnes of data sets, then rest safe in the knowledge that Messi has probably been the world’s best footballer in 2021 generally.

CAM – Phil Foden (Manchester City)

However, forget all the stats for a minute – though six goal contributions is great going – because the eye test is all you need to understand that Foden has made the Champions League his playground in 2020/21.


ST – Erling Braut Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

You can’t not have the leading goalscorer in the Champions League leading the line for the best XI of the season and Haaland more than deserves his place with 10 goals in just eight appearances.

ST – Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

Second in the goal-scoring charts with eight strikes and three assists in 10 games, Mbappe showed the world he’ll win the Ballon d’Or one day with masterclasses at Camp Nou and the Allianz Arena.


I’m going to get crucified for selecting Messi, aren’t I? Well, I guess that’s the nature of opinion, folks, so be sure to let us know who you would choose across our various social channels.

And lest we forget, there’s still the biggest game of all to come in Istanbul and yet another N’Golo Kante masterclass could be all we need to make a few last-minute tweaks to our selection.

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