Picking a Champions League Team of the Season with Only 1 Player from Each Side

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2014

Picking a Champions League Team of the Season with Only 1 Player from Each Side

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    Real Madrid were victorious in 2013/14's Champions League, defeating city rivals Atletico in the final after extra-time.

    Carlo Ancelotti's side featured some high-profile players, not least the two most expensive players in world football—Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Throughout the season there have been impressive performances from a host of players from other sides in the competition.

    So, the challenge is to create a team of the season from the Champions League but only using ONE player per team. That means some tough decisions—putting Ronaldo in would mean no Bale, for instance.

    Have a look at our selection then give it a try yourself.

GK: David De Gea (Man United)

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    It may not have been a successful Champions League campaign, or indeed season, for Manchester United, but David De Gea performed admirably in Europe and is the pick of the Red Devils.

    The Spanish stopper has grown in stature in recent years and looks to have a bright future ahead of him.

    De Gea is part of the Spain squad at the World Cup this summer and looks destined to be the eventual successor to Iker Casillas once he hangs up his gloves.

RB: Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich)

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    The Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm is arguably the best right-back and left-back in Europe. He also featured in centre-midfield on occasion this season under new boss Pep Guardiola.

    Guaranteed a place in the side, Lahm lines up at right-back in this XI.

    Lahm's inclusion here means no other Bayern players in the XI—a tough decision.

CB: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)

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    Arsenal's French centre-back had a successful campaign domestically and in Europe, establishing himself as one of the top defenders in Europe.

    He gets his place in this XI despite some arguably better centre-backs whose inclusions aren't possible due to a desire to get other players from their respective teams into the XI.

CB: Marquinhos (PSG)

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    Regarded as one of the best centre-backs in Europe, Marquinhos gets the nod over his club mate Thiago Silva due to a superior record in the Champions League campaign.

    The Brazilian defender had three goals and one assist to his name in eight appearances and is statistically ranked as the best defender in the competition by UEFA in their player statistics.

    PSG were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by Chelsea.

    Marquinho's inclusion here means no Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the XI.

LB: Ashley Cole (Chelsea)

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    A strange season for Ashley Cole, which has ended with his omission from England's World Cup squad, and subsequent retirement from international football, as well as his departure from Chelsea.

    However, the 33-year-old put in impressive performances in Europe, especially in the semi-final against Atletico Madrid. In the first leg in Spain, Cole showed why he is still one of the best full-backs in Europe when fit and on form.

CM: Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)

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    We had to get the classy Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo in this fantasy XI, anchoring the midfield and adding some style to the show.

    At 35, Pirlo continues to wow Europe. He played all six of Juventus' group games but the Italians were narrowly eliminated from the competition.

CM: Yaya Toure (Man City)

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    The former Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure continues to get better and better. He inspired Manchester City to domestic success and also made his mark on the European stage.

    He scored in City's 3-0 win at Pilzen in the group stages but the English side were undone by Barcelona in the round of 16.

CM: Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)

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    Five goals in the Champions League gives Marco Reus his place in midfield.

    The 24-year-old German was on target against Marseille, Napoli and Zenit, before hitting two goals against Real Madrid in the quarter-final.

    Reus also had three assists in a superb campaign for him.

FWD: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

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    Barcelona were undone by Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals, but Lionel Messi had already bagged eight goals in the competition by that point.

    A hat-trick in the opening group match against Ajax was followed up by goals against AC Milan (three in total across the two games), then in each match against Man City in the last 16.

    Indeed, before the matches with Atletico, Messi had scored in each of his appearances in the competition in 2013/14.

FWD: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

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    Cristiano Ronaldo continued to break records—not least becoming the record goalscorer in a single season in the Champions League.

    Seventeen goals in 11 games is quite a record, one that is unlikely to be beaten soon.

    The Portuguese scored a hat-trick in the opening game against Galatasaray, then followed it up with a double in each of the next two group games against Copenhagen and Juventus.

    More doubles followed in each of the last 16 games against Schalke, before another double against Bayern in the semi-final.

    Ronaldo also became the first player to score in the final of the competition for two different clubs, having done so for Man United in 2008 previously. 

FWD: Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)

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    Completing a La Liga front three is Diego Costa, the Spaniard who has taken Europe by storm this season.

    Eight goals and one assist in nine appearances is a superb record for any player. Without the incredible achievements of Messi and Ronaldo, Costa would be the one taking the plaudits.

Final XI

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    So there you have it, the final XI of players—coached by the manager of the season, Diego Simeone:

    GK: David De Gea
    RB: Philipp Lahm
    CB: Laurent Koscielny
    CB: Marquinhos
    LB: Ashley Cole
    CM: Andre Pirlo
    CM: Yaya Toure
    CM: Marco Reus
    FWD: Leo Messi
    FWD: Cristiano Ronaldo
    FWD: Diego Costa

    Quite an attacking line-up, but that side would fancy it's chances against any in Europe!

    Managing to get Ronaldo, Messi and Costa in the line-up meant no other Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atletico players could be in the XI.

    So no Gareth Bale, Diego Godin or Andres Iniesta, among other legitimate options.

    Give it a try and list your XI in the comments below!