Cristiano Ronaldo was the star of the show in Saturday’s final, but many more players have stood out over the course of the campaign...
Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Sergio Ramos and their fellow Real Madrid stars made history on Saturday when they guided Real Madrid to a successive Champions League title.
As the best attack lined up against the strongest defence in Europe, excitement was guaranteed in Saturday’s final in Cardiff, and that has been the tone all the way through this campaign.
Madrid’s 4-1 victory over Juventus made it a worthy final, and Ronaldo and his team-mates will be celebrated as continental heroes, but there have been more standout performers throughout the competition this season. Here, Goal takes a look at the best XI of the 2016-17 Champions League.
GIANLUIGI BUFFON (Juventus): The 39-year-old has been so sound for the Serie A champions that many tipped him to be the man to end Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s decade-long dominance of the Ballon d’Or this year. Although he was beaten four times in Cardiff as his side lost out again, only three goals made it past him on the way to the final.
DANI ALVES (Juventus): Only one player has created more chances in the Champions League this season than the Brazilian right-back, who notched up three goals and four assists as an incredibly influential attack-minded defender.
SERGIO RAMOS (Real Madrid): The centre-back played the villiain once again for his role in Juan Cuadrado’s dismissal in the final, but he has been an excellent presence at the back for Zinedine Zidane’s men as well as a decisive threat up front as he continues to pitch in with important goals.
GIORGIO CHIELLINI (Juventus): The final in Cardiff may not have been the Italian’s strongest display, but Chiellini has flourished as the leader of Massimiliano Allegri’s defensively solid side, looking particularly impressive against Barcelona.
MARCELO (Real Madrid): The Brazilian left-back remains a constant threat on the wing and is still one of the best in the world in his position. Toni Kroos is the only Madrid player to have created more chances than the man starting to challenge Roberto Carlos’ legacy.
THIAGO ALCANTARA (Bayern Munich): The Spanish midfielder has taken his game to a new level this season and pitched in with two goals and three assists for a side unlucky to be eliminated at the quarter-final stage by the eventual winners.
TONI KROOS (Real Madrid): The most creative player in the competition, Kroos has added more to Madrid’s successful campaign than his one goal and one assist suggest. He showed again that he has an incredible passing ability – no player made more successful passes in the competition than the Germany international.
OUSMANE DEMBELE (Borussia Dortmund): Only Neymar racked up more assists in Europe’s premier club competition than the six the former Rennes star produced, while he added two goals of his own. Utilised as a winger on either side, a secondary striker and an attacking midfielder, he adds a great deal to a vibrant side.
NEYMAR (Barcelona): He was the star of the show as Barcelona clawed their way back from a four goal deficit to beat Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 and progress to the quarter-finals, where Juventus got the better of them. The Brazilian got four goals and eight assists across some excellent displays for Luis Enrique’s side.
CRISTIANO RONALDO (Real Madrid): The hero of the campaign, the Portugal star continues to take his game to new heights. His two goals in the final saw him overtake Messi as the competition’s top goalscorer this term, and his five assists only add to stature as the most decisive player around.
LIONEL MESSI (Barcelona): Although he failed to lead his side beyond the last eight, the Argentine star had an impressive run in the Champions League, scoring 11 goals in nine games and needing just 38 shots in total to do so – Ronaldo needed 73 attempts and 13 games to score 12 – while he created just one less chance than his Real Madrid counterpart.
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