The Champions League is one of the most widely viewed competitions in all of sport.
While there will always be a loyal following for the Premier League, La Liga and beyond, there is something undeniably special about Europe’s top clubs battling it out to conquer the continent.
Besides, the mere thought of superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi lining before a huge clash of European juggernauts to the sound of the Champions League anthem is enough to give anyone goosebumps.
Champions League quality
However, even in a tournament with such exposure and reverence, there are still players who don’t get the limelight and credit they deserve for gracing Europe’s premier competition with their quality.
Here at GIVEMESPORT, we have already laid out the players that we consider to be the most underrated in the Premier League and now we’re widening our net to the Champions League.
Villarreal 0-2 Man Utd Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
We’ve created a thrilling line-up of ballers who we think are dropping performances that far exceed the amount of praise they get from fans, pundits and the wider European football community.
Our selections are based upon the opinion of yours truly – which has been informed by statistics, the eye test and fan perceptions – and will largely be focused on output across the 2021/22 season.
And naturally, it’s impossible to be completely in tune with every single Twitter and Reddit thread about Champions League stars, so maybe some players are so underrated that we’ve underrated their underratedness…
Champions League’s most underrated XI
Anyhow, the moral of the story is that we think this Champions League XI should be getting more praise and the best way to get the ball rolling is by walking through the line-up in all its glory below:
GK: Yassine Bounou (Sevilla)
With seven La Liga clean sheets already and one of the Champions League’s finest save percentages, Bounou surely can’t continue to perform so immaculately for much longer without getting the hype that he’s owed.
RB: Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax)
Links to Arsenal and Manchester City seem to be where the hype around Mazraoui stops because four goals and three assists in 2021/22 have seemingly and unfairly been lost in the shuffle of Ajax’s success.
CB: Joel Matip (Liverpool)
I’ll happily die on the hill that Matip is Liverpool‘s second-best centre-half and if it wasn’t for the mesmeric brilliance of Virgil van Dijk, you like to think that his contributions would get more airtime.
CB: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
It’s criminal that Christensen isn’t spoken about in the same high esteem as other Chelsea centre-backs because his stellar form at Euro 2020 was the perfect showcase of his undervalued talent.
LB: Angeliño (RB Leipzig)
An electric and dynamic attacking threat from full-back, Angeliño has already poached three Champions League assists this season, but has largely flown under the radar amidst Leipzig’s early exit.
RM: Pedro Gonçalves (Sporting CP)
Statistically the Champions League’s third-best player this season, not that you’d know it, ‘Pote’ deserves far more column inches for galvanising Sporting with four goals and an assist in three European games.
CM: Rodri (Manchester City)
City could well be European champions right now if Rodri had started the 2021 Champions League final with the metronomic Spaniard so often watching on as Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan hoover up all the plaudits.
CM: Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)
Can we make some more noise about Nkunku scoring seven(!!!) Champions League goals from midfield despite playing for an eliminated team please? His hat-trick at Man City was far too quickly forgotten…
LM: Antony (Ajax)
Yes, we’re playing him out of position, but we simply couldn’t exclude the dazzling 21-year-old who has subtly amassed five Champions League goal contributions and will surely catch the eyes of the continent’s biggest clubs.
ST: Edin Dzeko (Inter Milan)
A forever-undervalued scoring machine who hasn’t wilted under the pressure of replacing Romelu Lukaku, Dzeko has bagged 11 goals in 21 games for Inter despite now clocking in at 35 years old.
ST: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
It’s criminal how taken for granted Jesus’ superb scoring record of 87 strikes in 210 City games at just 24 years old has become and he’s even risen to the challenge of playing on the right wing this season.
Hopefully not underrated for much longer
See, it’s hard to deny that our XI is packed to the rafters with Champions League quality, but it’s not often that you see them heralded for the performances that make them so revered and valued.
Sure, we’re not trying to say that Jesus should be held in the same esteem as Erling Haaland or that Matip is the second coming of Paolo Maldini, but their underrated status is pretty hard to deny.
And while it’s impossible to curate a footballing community in which every single players get the exact credit that they deserve, it’s been an absolute pleasure to give these 11 stars their due props.