Benzema, Salah, Modric: The Champions League Team of the Season

Liverpool and Real Madrid meet at the Stade de France to determine who will be crowned champions of Europe for the 2021/22 season, in what is set to be a clash for the ages.

A repeat of the 2018 final in which Liverpool lost 3-1, the Reds are out for revenge and are fuelled by the prospect of finishing up their campaign with a treble of cup silverware, playing every game possible and missing out on the Premier League title by just one point.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, have dominated in La Liga and could clinch their 14th Champions League crown at the expense of Liverpool, having dramatically gone through Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City in the knockout stages to make the final.

The competition is all but wrapped up and no matter who emerges victorious on the night of the final, it won’t change much in the complexion of putting together a Team of the Season for the 2021/22 Champions League – that is unless either Gareth Bale or Eden Hazard rise from the ashes and pull out a game-winning cameo of the ages, of course.

We have already been blessed with an array of top performances and unforgettable throughout the varying stages of the competition, from Villarreal’s giant-killing run to the semi-final, to Atletico Madrid trying to eliminate both Manchester sides in textbook, Atleti fashion – kicking, screaming, not playing football. You know, the good stuff.

So, with that in mind, we at GIVEMESPORT have looked over the competition and pulled together our version of the Champions League Team of the season for 2021/22.

Man Utd agree De Jong deal (Football Terrace)

GK – Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)

This one was neck and neck between Courtois and Alisson – a theme which won’t be going away throughout – but with Courtois being called into action much more often in order to see Real to the final, we’ve opted for the Belgian.

Courtois has saved a penalty from Lionel Messi and racked up a 77.4% save percentage, making 48 saves throughout the tournament, according to FBref. Reliable.

The Champions League Team of the Season
MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 04: Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 04, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

RB – Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Back to his scintillating best for Liverpool this season, nobody was pipping Alexander-Arnold to the right back spot.

Four assists from the eight games he’s played along with seven dribbles shows just how much of a nuisance he’s proven for every team he has come up against. Those numbers for a full back are astonishing.

Alexander-Arnold's Champions League stats are impressive
VILLARREAL, SPAIN – MAY 03: Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Villarreal and Liverpool at Estadio de la Ceramica on May 03, 2022 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

CB – Raul Albiol (Villarreal)

Perhaps a surprise inclusion, Villarreal’s veteran centre half deserves his flowers.

36-year-old Albiol played every one of Villarreal’s 12 games as they reached the semi-final, leading the Spanish side to a clean sheet away to Juventus and letting in just one goal against Bayern Munich over two legs. A real captain’s effort.

Albiol was a force for Villarreal
VILLARREAL, SPAIN – APRIL 06: Jamal Musiala of FC Bayern Muenchen is challenged by Raul Albiol of Villarreal CF during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Leg One match between Villarreal CF and Bayern MΓΌnchen at Estadio de la Ceramica on April 06, 2022 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

CB – Eder Militao (Real Madrid)

Finding a new level with his performances in the absence of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, Militao has stepped up to the plate tremendously well for Real Madrid.

The Brazilian has been a revelation at the back for Los Blancos, leading the pack and throwing himself into every tackle in an attempt to stop attackers going through on goal.

Militao has been impressive
MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 04: Eder Gabriel Militao of Real Madrid CF runs for the ball during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 04, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

LB – Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

A hat-trick of assists against Club Brugges in the group stages, Cancelo showed his class on the European stage for City, who were unfortunate not to make another final.

Their versatile full back was dependable on either side and added endless creativity and thrust, always giving teams another dimension to consider. He’s an exceptional player.

Cancelo makes the Champions League Team of the Season
MADRID, SPAIN – APRIL 13: Joao Cancelo of Manchester City FC controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Leg Two match between Atletico Madrid and Manchester City at Wanda Metropolitano on April 13, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

CM – Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

It’s genuinely absurd how timeless Modric has proven. Still able to dominate midfields as a six, eight or ten in the biggest tournament of them all, he’s been an absolute joy to watch all season long.

His performance could be crucial to the outcome of the final. Oh, and of course, who can forget that gorgeous assist against Chelsea? He’s absolutely mustard.

Modric has gotten better with age
MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 04: Luka Modric of Real Madrid CF controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 04, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

QUIZ – Name these Champions League final venues

1 of 15

Can you name the team that plays in this UEFA Champions League final stadium from 2021?

CM – Fabinho (Liverpool)

It’s a tough call between Fabinho and his Brazilian colleague Casemiro, but Liverpool’s midfield dominator just about gets the nod.

For as exceptional as Casemiro is, there is a more refined player in Fabinho, whose defensive work is so effortlessly clean cut and pivotal to the Reds’ success. You don’t need stats to see how he’s an absolutely crucial cog in the machine.

The Champions League Team of the Season
VILLARREAL, SPAIN – MAY 03: Fabinho of Liverpool applauds the fans after their sides victory during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Villarreal and Liverpool at Estadio de la Ceramica on May 03, 2022 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

CM – Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Commiserations to Benfica’s Joao Mario who had enjoyed a fine run in the competition as his side reached the last eight, but we just cannot ignore De Bruyne and his brilliance.

A goal and an assist in the semi-final against Real Madrid was a leader’s performance and the culmination of his all-round qualities. Unfortunately, his performance level could not be matched by his team. Playing out of his skin.

De Bruyne was incredible for Man City
MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 04: Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City FC looks on during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 04, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

RW – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Eight goals from 12 games, Salah has the chance to steal the show in the final and round off an already incredible Champions League campaign with the icing on the cake.

A brace away to Atletico Madrid and two at the San Siro with one against AC Milan and another against Inter, Salah was reliable as always and turned into creator in the latter stages to help Liverpool to the final, with two assists against Villarreal.

Salah makes the Champions League team of the season
VILLARREAL, SPAIN – MAY 03: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool looks on during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Villarreal and Liverpool at Estadio de la Ceramica on May 03, 2022 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

ST – Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

‘Ballon d’Or Benz’ is the nickname doing the rounds, and for good reason. Real Madrid would not be anywhere near the final without the carrying job that Benzema has performed, which has been nothing short of iconic.

The Frenchman simply doesn’t wilt, or feel any pressure. 15 goals from 11 games, including back-to-back hat-tricks against PSG and then Chelsea. Oh, and of course he led the charge as Real sank City. Seriously, who else?

Benzema has been incredible
MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 04: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their third goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 04, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

LW – Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

It was incredibly difficult to ignore the gargantuan carry job Cristiano Ronaldo performed to drag Manchester United out of the group stages, but he’s been pipped by Sadio Mane, purely for his latter stage contributions.

United were a mess, and it’s let Ronaldo down. Mane, meanwhile, was lively in the group stages and burned bright in the quarter finals and semi-finals, scoring in each leg against Villarreal to book Liverpool’s place in the final. And if he wins the lot, you just can’t ignore that.

Mane makes the Champions League Team of the Season
VILLARREAL, SPAIN – MAY 03: Sadio Mane of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their team’s third goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Villarreal and Liverpool at Estadio de la Ceramica on May 03, 2022 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
News Now - Sport News