Picking a Champions League Semifinals Best XI
The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals are over, and four teams have claimed a semifinal berth.
So what's the best possible XI we can construct, taking only players who've reached the final four with their respective clubs, based solely on UCL performances?
We blend and collate the best that Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid have to offer.
GK: Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich
With Victor Valdes error-prone and Real Madrid recycling goalkeepers, we're left with a face-off between Manuel Neuer and Roman Weidenfeller.
The Germans match up well, but Neuer gets the nod for some outstanding individual saves over the course of the campaign.
Bayern's ominous domestic defence has gone missing in Europe, and if it weren't for Neuer, Arsenal could have been the club taking on Juventus in the quarterfinals.
RB: Philipp Lahm, Bayern Munich
Philipp Lahm saw off some dangerous competition to claim this berth, but he truly is the best full-back in world football.
The German thrives in a Bayern Munich system built to protect when the right- and left-backs go forward, combining well with Thomas Mueller and Toni Kroos.
Even when Die Bayern are under pressure, Lahm finds a way to get forward. He's been at the top level long enough to pick his moments carefully and continues to do so in one of the strongest Bayern sides ever seen.
CB: Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid
Sergio Ramos may make the headlines for his disciplinary record, but he's been an absolute rock at the back all season long.
Many will point to Raphael Varane's rapid improvements, but the youngster still makes errors that will be cleaned out in due course.
Ramos is the finished article: This season, he became the youngest European player ever to attain 100 national team caps.
A well-deserved record for an excellent defender.
CB: Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund
Mats Hummels has been immense at the heart of the Borussia Dortmund defence this season.
His performances throughout the Group Stages were a big factor in Die Borussen's bettering of Real Madrid, Ajax and Manchester City, and BVB's struggle to make it past Malaga in the quarterfinal highlighted his importance.
He marks strikers into submission with ease and starts attacks from the back.
LB: Jordi Alba, Barcelona
Coming into the season, it was widely perceived that Jordi Alba would spend his first year in Barcelona adapting to the weird and wonderful tactical system in place in Catalonia.
Cesc Fabregas struggled, Alexis Sanchez struggled, so why wouldn't the former Valencia left-back?
Euro 2012 probably eased the load, and Alba has hit the ground running after beating out the errors nice and early.
He scored a critical goal against Celtic and has provided the X-factor La Blaugrana have needed in the knockout stages.
DM: Sergio Busquets, Barcelona
Sergio Busquets is having another immense season, whether people notice it or not.
His impact in the 4-0 victory over Milan was incredible, and over the course of the campaign he has asserted himself as one of Barcelona's most important assets.
His ability to read the game, intercept danger before it's even begun and recycle the ball so well under pressure makes him a premier defensive midfielder.
CM: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bayern Munich
If Bayern Munich do win the UEFA Champions League this season, they'll be able to thank a good number of key performers.
But Bastian Schweinsteiger is arguably the most integral, and his ability to step up and grab a game by the scruff of the neck is a very valuable trait.
Schweini is the heart and soul of Die Bayern's team, and with no league games of note after securing the Bundesliga title six games early, he'll be rested and ready to play at 100-percent in the semifinals.
CM: Xavi, Barcelona
Xavi is a creative engine who keeps on giving, churning out chances for Lionel Messi and co. to finish.
Barcelona understandably struggle without the midfield maestro on the field, and his four assists so far in the tournament suggest he's having a real impact in the final third.
Remarkably, Xavi completed every single one of his 92 passes in Barca's 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain, achieving the first 100-percent completion percentage for a long, long time.
RF: Marco Reus, Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund have a number of attacking delights, but it's arguable no player was more instrumental in dragging them through to the semifinals than Marco Reus.
Even Robert Lewandowski's six-goal haul pales into insignificance when you consider the nature of Reus' strikes—crucial away goals to help BVB win the "Group of Death" and an absolute screamer at the Santiago Bernabeu.
His goal against Malaga gave his side hope, while his assist for Lewy's opener represented out-of-this-world skill.
LF: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo is the top scorer in the Champions League coming into the semifinals, netting a ridiculous 11 goals.
He's been the source of inspiration for his side through the tournament, particularly in saving Los Blancos' blushes in Istanbul.
He bagged six goals in the Group Stages and beat the emotions and the crowd to score in each leg against former club Manchester United.
CF: Lionel Messi, Barcelona
Lionel Messi is an easy choice here.
His eight Champions League goals have carried Barcelona through the tournament so far, and collective breaths were held when he clutched his hamstring against Paris Saint-Germain.
His impact off the bench in the second leg turned the game in favour of La Blaugrana, creating the goal that has seen them into the semifinals.