Benzema, Van Dijk, no De Bruyne: Champions League's 'true' Team of the Season

The 2021/22 Champions League season came to a close last Saturday evening.

In the tournament’s finale, Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 1-0 inside the Stade de France and lifted the trophy for the fifth time in the space of just eight years.

Los Blancos had an incredibly hard run as well. They had to see off Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City to secure a date with Jurgen Klopp’s side in Paris.

As such, a number of Real Madrid players have made it into the Champions League’s best-performing XI of the campaign.

The folks over at SofaScore have published their Team of the Season using stats and there are certainly a few shock inclusions.

Real Madrid celebrate winning the 2021/22 Champions League
PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 28: Marcelo of Real Madrid lifts the UEFA Champions League trophy after their sides victory during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Check it out below…

GK: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid) – 7.48

Courtois was outrageously good throughout Real Madrid’s successful run. He even picked up the Man of the Match award in the final victory over Liverpool.

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) – 7.42

The best right-back in world football? It’s starting to look that way. In his nine appearances, Alexander-Arnold registered four assists – impressive stuff.

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in action
PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 28: Trent Alexander Arnold of Liverpool holds the ball during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

CB: Thiago Silva (Chelsea) – 7.18

One of the surprise inclusions, although 37-year-old Silva was pretty darn good on the European stage – particularly in Chelsea’s last-16 home victory over Lille. The Brazilian was also named in the ‘true’ Premier League Team of the Season.

CB: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) – 7.19

No shock here whatsoever. Van Dijk was back to his commanding best in 2021/22 and his performances were key to Liverpool reaching the final.

LB: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City) – 7.49

Despite City being dramatically eliminated at the semi-final stage by Real Madrid, Cancelo achieved the highest rating of any defender. Not bad, Joao, not bad at all.

Man City's Joao Cancelo in action
MADRID, SPAIN – APRIL 13: Joao Cancelo of Manchester City FC strikes 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)

RM: Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) – 7.68

That’s right, Mohamed Salah misses out. Mahrez actually earned the third-highest rating, the Algerian scoring seven goals in his 12 European outings. Although, that was one fewer than Salah…

CM: Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich) – 7.66

We thought we’d be seeing Kevin De Bruyne in midfield, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Kimmich was superb for Bayern, though, the German proving yet again that he’s one of the best in the business.

CM: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) – 7.37

Yeah, we’re not quite sure how Kroos has made the team at the expense of teammates Casemiro and Luka Modric. Kroos was decent in the final, but was below-par (by his lofty standards) in a number of other games in the knockout stage. He was hooked after just 57 minutes in the 3-1 home victory over Paris Saint-Germain…

Toni Kroos with the Champions League trophy
PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 28: Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric of Real Madrid celebrate with the UEFA Champions League trophy after their sides victory during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

LM: Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich) – 7.65

Sane over Vinicius Junior?! Well, the stats apparently don’t lie. And to be fair to Sane, his numbers are marvellous. In 10 appearances, he scored six goals and assisted the same amount. So maybe he is worthy of a place in the XI after all.

ST: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) – 7.84

Another spectacular season from the master marksman. Lewandowski scored 13 goals during Bayern’s run to the quarter-finals and received the second-highest rating as a result.

ST: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) – 8.05

Comfortably the highest-rated player of all – and deservedly so. Fifteen goals, hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea, the tie-winning penalty versus City, Benzema’s heroics during the 2021/22 Champions League will be remembered for decades to come.

The 'true' Champions League Team of the Season

So there you have it. Salah, De Bruyne, Modric, Vinicius, Kylian Mbappe and Fabinho are some of the standout absentees.

It’s also strange that not a single member of Villarreal’s squad made the cut. After all, they did reach the semi-finals, beating Juventus and Bayern along the way…

Champions League quiz: 20 questions on the all-time records

1 of 20

Which team holds the record for longest unbeaten run in the UCL of 25 games?

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