The prolific trio provided plenty of firepower during the course of the campaign and are included in our XI as we choose the best performers from the competitionThis season's edition of the Champions League was one of the most unpredictable in recent history, as Chelsea fought against the odds to claim their first-ever trophy in Europe's elite tournament, and Goal.com looks back at the outstanding players from 2011-12.
Starting between the posts, it was Petr Cech who saved the Blues on numerous occasions, most notably in the semi-finals as the Premier League side proved too stubborn to break down for favourites Barcelona. The Czech denied Messi and Co. over two legs as Roberto Di Matteo's team held on to reach the final. The goalkeeper impressed in the final as well as he denied Arjen Robben from the spot in extra time before coming up big in the penalty shootout to help his team to the trophy.
At right-back, few were as effective as Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm. From the Group A opener against Villarreal to the final at the Allianz Arena, the full-back showed why he is considered among the world's best in his position and also displayed his attacking strengths when he set up a last-minute winner for Gomez in the first leg of the semi-final against Real Madrid.
The aging Alessandro Nesta may not be as fast as he once was, but his masterful defending should certainly not be forgotten as he departs AC Milan this summer. The 36-year-old was fantastic in the opening 2-2 draw with Barcelona and throughout the group stages, and let Europe know he's still a match for the world's best strikers.
He locked horns with Lionel Messi again in the quarter-finals, denying the Argentine superstar with some world-class challenges. However, his and Milan's run ended there as his tug on Carles Puyol resulted in a controversial penalty that was a turning point in their last-eight tie.
The fairy tale story of 2011-12 was APOEL, the team led by the tenacious performances of Paulo Jorge. The defender, who has since secured a transfer to Anorthosis, was a dominant force throughout the Cypriots' run to the quarter-finals.
The Braga-born centre-back was unbeatable in the win over Porto and scoreless draw with Zenit in the group stages, but truly shined in their last 16 victory over the more-fancied Olympique Lyonnais. His goal-line clearance in the first leg proved critical and he was every bit as focused in the second leg. Unfortunately, not even his efforts could stop them from succumbing to the firepower of Real Madrid.
Ashley Cole's timely blocks became a constant feature of Chelsea's matches in the semi-finals and decider in Germany. The left-back's keen understanding of the game was evident for all to see as his positioning, tackles and challenges foiled Barcelona and Bayern Munich time and time again when the Blues could not afford to make any mistakes at the back.
Madrid's run to the semi-finals was characterised by the 10 goals of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portugal international could not lead his side to a coveted 10th European title, but an individually brilliant performance against Lyon in the group stage, three goals in the Last 16 tie against CSKA Moscow, a stunning set-piece versus APOEL, and two goals in the second leg of the semi-finals booked his place in our Best XI. However, he came up short at the time of reckoning, when Manuel Neuer denied him from the penalty spot in the shoot-out loss to Bayern.
Elsewhere, few players were as influential as Ramires in the knockout stages. The Brazilian's cross to Drogba started his side's unlikely comeback against Napoli, before he punished his former team Benfica in the last eight with a superb display at the Estadio da Luz. The contribution that will live long in the memory of the Chelsea fans, however, will be his performance in the semi-finals against Barcelona as he scored a splendid lob over Victor Valdes at Camp Nou just as it looked like the Blues would collapse.
Bayern's Franck Ribery did his reputation no harm going into Euro 2012 with a number of superb showings in Europe's most prestigious club competition. The France playmaker was dazzling in group stage victories over Manchester City and Villarreal and only seemed to improve in the knockout stage with three assists in the Round of 16 against Basel, a fine display versus his former club Marseille, and a cracking goal against Real Madrid in the semi-finals. Alas, he had to go off injured in extra time of the final and his side settled for a runners-up medal.
Lionel Messi may not be a Champions League winner this season, but you could hardly have asked for more from the Ballon d'Or holder. The Argentine netted 14 goals in total to match Jose Altafini's record for strikes in a Champions League or European Cup season, and also became the only player to hit five goals in a single match in the competition during the 7-1 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen, a performance for which we rated him a perfect 10.
With 12 goals to his name - the second-most in the competition - Mario Gomez was not always on form, but was arguably the most deadly striker in the Champions League when he did have his shooting boots on. The towering forward grabbed a hat-trick versus Napoli and four against Basel, and converted a vital first-leg semi-final winner when his side were hosting Madrid, but his final performance left something to be desired as he spurned a number of good opportunities.
Finally, the man whose spot kick allowed Chelsea to lift the trophy, Didier Drogba, is the last piece of our 4-3-3 jigsaw. No player rose to the challenge more than the powerful Ivorian as he came up with crucial strikes when his team needed them the most. In the final group stage clash with Valencia, he struck twice to secure the Blues' place in the knockout stages, before scoring in the second-leg comeback against Napoli.
His lone goal at Stamford Bridge gave coach Roberto Di Matteo's men a slender 1-0 first-leg advantage and his hold-up play against the Blaugrana was truly exceptional as the Blues went on to overcome the Catalans. He saved the best for last though, as his powerful header sent the final in Munich to extra time before he converted the winning penalty in the dramatic shoot-out.
| Conceded: 12
|Avg Rating: 6.65
|Goals/Assists: 0/1||Goals/Assists: 0/0
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|Avg Rating: 6.71
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||Goals/Assists: 3/2||Goals/Assists: 3/5
|Avg Rating: 6.85
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| Goals/Assists: 14/5
|Avg Rating: 7.55||Avg Rating: 6.45
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