Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Champions League Team Of The Season

Edwin Van Der Sar- A two time winner of the competition, Van Der Sar's experience has continued to benefit Manchester United. The Dutchman was an integral part part of a back five which has yet to concede a single goal away from home, and fittingly, he will play his final match on Saturday.

Marcelo- Much criticized during the Pellegrini era, Marcelo has come on leaps and bounds in 2011. Dangerous in attack, Marcelo scored twice in the 2011 competition; including a consolation strike at the Nou Camp. Marcelo's play this season will have come as a huge relief the Real Madrid hierarchy, the full back positions have been one of the Merengues' main weaknesses over the last few years.

Nemanja Vidic- Another member of that impressive Manchester United back five, Vidic has led by example all season long. No doubt relieved to have central defensive partner Rio Ferdinand back, Vidic enjoyed possibly his finest European campaign yet; one which could be capped by success at Wembley.

Gerard Pique- After another fine season with FC Barcelona, Pique will have the opportunity to claim his third Champions League winners medal on Saturday. Brilliant with the ball at his feet, Pique has triggered the start of a countless number of Barcelona attacks; Manchester United still must be ruing the day they allowed him to leave.

Patrice Evra- After rebuffing bids from both Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Evra has managed to put a poor World Cup behind him and propel Manchester United to European success this season. Evra's ability to attack as well as defend is vital to Manchester United's play; when in full flight he is a huge danger to the opposition.

Gareth Bale- In the group stage, Gareth Bale stunned the world with two brilliant performances home and away to Inter Milan. A hat trick at the San Siro was complemented by an unplayable showing at White Hart Lane, one which dented Inter's chances, not to mention Maicon's reputation. It will certainly be interesting to see whether Spurs can hold on to their star man amidst interest from a host of European giants this summer.

Luka Modric- Despite being brilliant in the Premier Leauge, Modric's game is perhaps even better equipped for European competition. Relishing the low pressure nature of the European midfield, Modric has sprayed passes two and fro with ease; controlling midfields stuffed with high class opposition. Without the Croatian's distribution, Bale's speed and skill would have become obsolete; something which could have hindered Spurs immensely.

Andres Iniesta- Spain's World Cup final hero has continued to impress this campaign, as he and his Barcelona colleagues have taken the club to new heights. The perfect foil for midfield partner Xavi, Iniesta's incisive passing and goal scoring capabilities have been a huge boon to Barca. Negating Iniesta's midfield effectiveness will be an immense challenge for United on Saturday, one which could prove fatal to their chances.

Ryan Giggs- Evergreen, Giggsy has been arguably Manchester United's best player this year in European competition. Providing assists for all three of Manchester United's quarter final goals, Giggs has proved inspirational in tough matches; a clutch performer even at the ripe old age of 37. Even though Giggs' goalscoring hasn't been spectacular, the importance of his flood gate opening strike against Schalke will not be forgotten.

Cristiano Ronaldo- As always, Ronaldo has been one of the Champions League's top performing players. One of the competition's leading scorers, Ronaldo was a big reason for Madrid's progression past the Round of Sixteen.

Lionel Messi- The best player in the world, and the tournament's top scorer, Messi is an obvious pick. With nine goals, Messi has walked the golden boot, and it appears likely that he will walk away with a winners medal as well.

Honorable Mentions:
Wayne Rooney
Javier Hernandez
Mario Gomez
Nicolas Anelka
Douglas Costa
Xavi Hernandez
Rio Ferdinand
Carlos Puyol
Mesut Ozil
Rafael Van Der Vaart
Samuel Eto'o
Raul Gonzalez
Jefferson Farfan

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