Van Dijk, Messi & Ronaldo lead Champions League Team of the Tournament

Comments()
Getty/Goal
After one of the most remarkable European Cups in recent memory, Goal picks out the top performers from this year's competition

  1. Getty Images

    Alisson

    What a difference a great goalkeeper makes!

    This time last year, Liverpool were left counting the cost of Loris Karius' calamitous errors in their Champions League final showdown with Real Madrid. Now, they are heralding Alisson as the best goalkeeper in the world after the Brazilian helped them claim a sixth European Cup.

    Nobody made more saves than the Selecao No.1 in this season's tournament (46), he racked up the most recoveries (119), while his save percentage was better than any other shot-stopper to have made the knockout stage (79).

    It's fair to say that the £56 million ($71m) Liverpool paid Roma for Alisson last summer was money well spent.

  2. Getty Images

    Trent Alexander-Arnold

    Trent Alexander-Arnold may have been reluctant to accept any plaudits for the moment of inspiration that eliminated Barcelona in the semi-finals but Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp didn't hold back when it came to the quickly-taken corner which caught the Catalans napping at Anfield: "Oh my God, genius!"

    Of course, we shouldn't have been surprised by Alexander-Arnold's deadly delivery. This, after all, is the man who this season broke the Premier League assists record for a defender (12).

    The 20-year-old hometown hero has been just as impressive in the Champions League.

    Alexander-Arnold's ranked second for successful crosses (22) and third for chances created (22) among defenders but it's also worth pointing out that he finished fifth for interceptions (18) and second for recoveries (78), only further emphasising his all-round excellence and perceptive reading of the game.

  3. Getty

    Virgil van Dijk

    Virgil van Dijk cost Liverpool £75m ($95m) yet that record-breaking fee for a defender is now looking like one of the best deals in the club's long and illustrious history.

    Since his arrival at Anfield in January 2018, the Reds have reached back-to-back Champions League finals, primarily due to the way in which the Dutch centre-half has completely transformed Jurgen Klopp's backline.

    Liverpool may have struggled on the road during the group stage, while Van Dijk had a rare off night against Barcelona at Camp Nou, but he has been colossal for the most part, even chipping with a couple of goals, the first of which was the killer second goal in the away win at Bayern Munich in the last 16.

  4. Olaf Kraak

    Matthijs de Ligt

    "It's a dream getting crushed," Matthijs de Ligt admitted after Ajax's semi-final elimination against Tottenham. "I would have loved to play the final, but it's not happening."

    It may not have happened this year but, if the 19-year-old defender's performances in this season's tournament are anything to go by, it's only a matter of time before De Ligt realises his dream.

    The youngest captain in Ajax's history led his side to the last four with grace, grit and no end of inspiration, typified by the towering header which saw the Dutch champions knock out Juventus in their own backyard in Turin.

    De Ligt ranked second among defenders for recoveries, aerials won and possession won and whomever manages to sign him this summer will be acquiring one of the best centre-halves in the world.

  5. Getty Images

    Andrew Robertson

    Despite being pushed hard for the left-back berth by the brilliant Jordi Alba, Andrew Robertson gets the nod after playing a pivotal role in Liverpool's Champions League success.

    Just like team-mate Alexander-Arnold, the Scot is a fantastic outlet down his flank, but an even more rampaging attacking talent, as underlined by his rousing performance in the final win over Tottenham.

  6. Getty

    Hakim Ziyech

    Hakim Ziyech blamed himself for Ajax's semi-final elimination at the hands of Tottenham, with the Morocco international having hit the post when the tie was in the balance.

    However, the 26-year-old should not look back on the role he played in the Dutch double winners' thrilling European campaign with anything but pride.

    With his scintillating dribbling skills, Ajax's Player of the Year was a constant menace down his side's right flank, while there was also an end product, with Ziyech directly involved in six goals, scoring three himself, including one apiece in both legs of the last-16 win over Real Madrid.

  7. Getty Images

    Frenkie de Jong

    The Champions League's top two midfielders in terms of passes completed were Sergio Busquets (903) and Ivan Rakitic (835).

    Frenkie de Jong (718) was third on the list. It's, thus, easy to understand why Barcelona elected to pay €75m (£66m/$84m) to sign the Dutchman in January.

    De Jong had already proven his class and composure in the group stage but he was even better in the knockouts, outshining Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in Ajax's demolition job on Real Madrid in the last 16 before laying the foundations for the quarter-final win over Juventus in Turin.

    At just 22, the Netherlands international looks destined to grace this competition for years to come.

  8. Dean Mouhtaropoulos

    Christian Eriksen

    Just like his Tottenham side, Christian Eriksen had his ups and downs in this season's Champions League but the elegant Dane was integral to their historic run to the final.

    No midfielder racked up more assists (four) than the 27-year-old, who also ranked number two for chances created (28), underlining Eriksen's status as one of the most gifted playmakers in the world.

    The only doubt now is whether Eriksen will be back in next season's tournament in the white of Tottenham or the white of Real Madrid!

  9. Getty

    Lionel Messi

    Lionel Messi's determined bid to bring the Champions League back to Camp Nou ended in all-too-familiar heartbreak, with Barcelona suffering a humiliating second-leg capitulation at Liverpool, just over a year after their collapse against Roma.

    Still, whereas the Argentine had never quite hit top form in 2017-18, he was at his brilliant best this season, restoring his reputation as the best player in the world by carrying his side to the last four with 12 goals - no other player even hit double figures - and three assists.

    Messi may have been left devastated by the Blaugrana's 4-0 loss at Anfield, particularly as he created three clear-cut opportunities for his colleagues on the night.

    However, nobody conjured up as many magical moments in this season's Champions League as the No.10, who produced a Wembley masterclass against Tottenham, and netted a free-kick for the ages against Liverpool at Camp Nou.

  10. Getty

    Dusan Tadic

    This time last year, Dusan Tadic's spell at Southampton was drawing to a rather underwhelming close. Now, he is a star at Ajax, whom he helped win a domestic double and reach the semi-finals of this season's Champions League.

    At 30 years of age, the Serbia international was the outstanding attacking talent in an exciting side packed with gifted youngsters that won the hearts of neutrals all over Europe with their offensive, fearless football.

    No player created more chances than Tadic (37), who was directly involved in 10 goals in total, creating four and netting six himself, and nowhere was his all-round excellence better displayed than at the Santiago Bernabeu in the last 16.

    He scored once and claimed two assists as Ajax routed Real Madrid 4-1, with his performance earning him a rare 10/10 rating from L'Equipe.

  11. Getty

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Juventus obviously bought Cristiano Ronaldo to win them the Champions League. He failed in that regard but he couldn't have done much more to help them realise their dream.

    The Portuguese endured a frustrating group stage, sent off at Valencia before seeing a wonderfully executed volley against Manchester United go to waste, as the Bianconeri suffered a dramatic late collapse in Turin.

    As always, though, Ronaldo really stepped up when it mattered most, hitting a sensational second-leg hat-trick as Juve overturned a 2-0 deficit against Atletico Madrid in Turin, before netting in both legs of the quarter-final tie with Ajax.

    Juve were ultimately undone by Dutch dynamism but Ronaldo exited with his head held high, having show that even at the age of 34, he remains a force to be reckoned with in the knockout stage, where he scored all of his side's goals!