UEFA Champions League Team of the Season – 2013/14
The unstoppable force finally beat the immovable object as Real Madrid's dramatic 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid sealed La Décima and made Real Madrid the most successful club in history of European Cup competitions. It was a day when individual brilliance of the Real Madrid players came through. Angel Di Maria was a constant thorn in the Atletico defense and ripped them apart all day long.
It was a fitting end to a Champions League that saw plenty of goals, records being broken and its fair share of upsets, drama and comebacks. There were plenty of brilliant players on show, let us look at who made the cut into the Champions League team of the season.
Here is how the team would look in a 4-4-2 formation.
Arguably one of the easiest selections, the on-loan Chelsea shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois once again proved just why he is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe at the moment. Playing for the third year in a row for Atletico Madrid, the 22-year-old displayed exceptional resolve throughout the tournament as he kept five clean sheets in his 13 games.
Whether it was making finger-tip saves or displaying his lightning quick reflexes or his immense shot-stopping ability, the Belgian keeper was without a doubt, the undisputed No. 1 in this season’s Champions League. His tall, slender and agile frame was what got Atletico through tight clashes against Barcelona and Chelsea in the latter half of the competition. Although his future is somewhat undecided, one thing is for sure, wherever he plays, he is sure to make his mark.
Branislav Ivanovic – Sergio Ramos – Diego Godin – Filipe Luis
Progressive in his attacking play and resolute in defense, in no time Branislav Ivanovic has transformed himself from a towering center back to a rampaging full back. The lack of defensive cover meant that Ivanovic has had to reinvent himself and the Serbian has done that with consummate ease. An integral part of the Blues defense which kept seven clean sheets prior to their 3-1 semi-final second leg loss to Atletico, Ivanovic takes his place at right back.
In central defense, Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos takes his place alongside Atletico’s Diego Godin. Whether it was scoring crucial goals, like the stoppage-time equalizer in the final to send the goal into extra-time or making crucial last-ditch tackles to save his side from going a goal-behind, Sergio Ramos did it all. Although he didn’t have the best of starts to the campaign, as the competition moved towards its climax, Ramos started to grow in stature. The Spaniard put in some rock-solid performances, especially in the semi-final clash against Bayern, where he scored a brace, but was important at the back and ensured a clean sheet.
Ramos’ partner in central defense is Diego Godin, who was the competition’s standout defender. Although he didn’t score as many as Ramos did, on the defensive side, there wasn’t a single defender who surpassed the Uruguayan. Godin marshalled his defense through tense encounters with Chelsea and Barcelona and even managed to score the opener in the final. The 28-year-old was brilliant in the air, that coupled with his positional awareness and his timing of the tackles, made him one tough nut to crack.
Taking the left back role is yet another Atletico defender, this time it is the Brazilian Filipe Luis. One of the main reasons why Luis was so successful this season was his work-rate. Whether it was the first minute or the last minute, Luis was always there to man-mark his opponents or bomb down the opposition flank and provide precise passes to the front man. Both defensively and offensively, Luis was the best full back in this year’s tournament and was unlucky to finish on the losing side in the final.
Arjen Robben – Gabi – Luka Modric – Angel Di Maria
One of the main reasons why Bayern Munich came up till the semi-final stage was the form of their 30-year-old Dutch winger Arjen Robben. The Dutchman showed that age was no barrier as he continued to bamboozle the opposition defense with lung bursting runs and delightful dribbles. With four goals and four assists, he was Bayern’s player of the tournament and that was enough to secure him a spot on the right wing.
The central midfield pairing of Gabi and Luka Modric provide a solid defensive platform as well as an attacking threat going forward. Diego Simeone’s well-drilled side needed a leader in central midfield, a player who could shoulder the responsibility of taking his side across the finish line. And that player was Gabi, defensively solid and technically sound, Gabi gave Atletico both protection and precision.
Alongside him is Luka Modric, who, after a troubled start to his Real career managed to make the most of Sami Khedira’s injury. The German’s pain was the Croat’s gain as Modric displayed the form that earned him a move from White Hart Lane to the Bernabeu. He was arguably Madrid’s most creative outlet, thanks to his ability to wriggle out of a tight spot and locate his team-mate with a pin-point pass.
The only player who can come close to challenging Modric for that title is his team-mate Angel Di Maria. Although he is primarily a winger, he was more often than not, deployed as a left-sided central midfielder this season. Whilst some might have struggled, Di Maria proved that irrespective of where he is, his offensive output doesn’t diminish. Along with Marcelo, Di Maria was one the main reasons why Real ended up winning the final comfortably in the end.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
In attack, the tournament’s two-most prolific strikers take their position. Cristiano Ronaldo made history by scoring 17 goals and creating a new-tournament record. In the process, the Portuguese superstar also scored a goal against every opposition he came up against and notched up the most goals in the Champions League group stage. His penalty in the final meant that he scored in his second European cup triumph with his second different team.
Alongside him is Zlata n Ibrahimovic. Although PSG were unlucky to go out against Chelsea, their talismanic striker certainly made his mark on the tournament. It was not just the Swede’s 10 goals that earned him a place on this list, but also the fact that he was central to every PSG attack and without him, the Parisians crashed out against Chelsea in the second leg. He might be on his way to the World Cup, but his performances in this year’s Champions League have certainly shown his true class.