We’ve reached the end of another Champions League campaign and it’s time to reflect on another enthralling European season.
From the Champions League’s finest footballer, to our most memorable moment and the greatest game, it’s time to hand out our end-of-season awards.
Player of the Season – Rodri
Erling Haaland’s goals have taken much of the headlines at Manchester City this season, but Rodri is arguably the side’s most crucial component. The Spanish midfielder is the perfect pivot at the base of Pep Guardiola’s midfield, a footballer who serves as the conduit of a City side who dominate the ball and suffocate opponents.
Rodri is not a regular goalscorer, but when he does score his goals tend to be crucial. His netted his first in the Champions League with a spectacular strike to kickstart the rout of Bayern Munich at the Etihad, before saving his most memorable moment for last with the winner against Inter Milan in Istanbul.
Man City lead in the Champions League final!! 🤩
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) June 10, 2023
The 26-year-old’s final goal was a brilliant moment for the midfielder, who was left out of the side during City’s 2021 final defeat. Since then he has become irreplaceable to a Manchester City side officially crowned as the best in Europe.
Young Player of the Season – Erling Haaland
It’s easy to forget that Erling Haaland is still just 22.
Haaland’s first season at Manchester City has seen the forward shatter goal records and inspire the club to treble success, with the frightening prospect remaining that the Norwegian has not even touched his ceiling.
Haaland scored 52 goals in all competitions for the Citizens this season, 12 of which came in the Champions League. That return was the best of Haaland’s Champions League career to date and the joint-most a player has scored for an English club in the competition in a single season, alongside Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United, 2002/03).
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 15, 2022
Haaland ended the season as the Champions League’s leading scorer for the second time and is the youngest player to have achieved the feat twice, eclipsing Lionel Messi’s record by eight days.
His five-goal destruction of RB Leipzig was one of the most captivating individual performances of the season.
Moment of the Season – Manchester City 4-0 Real Madrid
When re-runs are watched back of Manchester City’s treble-winning season, no game will stand out quite like the club’s thrashing of Real Madrid.
Real Madrid arrived at the Etihad as the reigning European champions and with a record of reaching the semi-final stage in 11 of the last 13 seasons. Manchester City had lost two previous semi-finals to the 14-time winners and the tie was poised perfectly after a draw in the first leg.
What followed was arguably the best ever Champions League performance from an English club, as Pep Guardiola’s side stunned the Spaniards in a performance packed full of elite quality.
City were utterly dominant during a compelling first half, one which saw Bernardo Silva score twice as the hosts took control of the tie. Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez added goals after the break, in a Manchester masterclass from Guardiola’s spellbinding side.
A statement performance that indicated that this was now City’s time on the Champions League stage.
Goal of the Season – Alejandro Grimaldo
Alejando Grimaldo starred as Benfica reached the quarter-finals for a second successive season, with the left-back full of creativity and attacking threat.
Grimaldo scored twice and provided four assists for the Portuguese side, including this sensational hit during the club’s 2-0 win over Maccabi Haifa on matchday one.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 9, 2022
The Spaniard has agreed to sign for Bayer Leverkusen on a free teenager this summer, a brilliant deal for the Bundesliga side based on the evidence of his performances this season.
Manager of the Season – Pep Guardiola
Could it be anyone else?
Pep Guardiola wrote his name further into the history books after claiming a third Champions League crown this season, leading Manchester City to elusive European success.
Guardiola’s team dismantled the likes of RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the knockout rounds, before a 1-0 win over Inter Milan in the final earned the Citizens their first Champions League title.
1 – Pep Guardiola has won the treble for the second time in his managerial career, while he’s the first ever manager to do so with two different clubs (Barcelona in 2008-09 and Manchester City in 2022-23). Greatness. #UCLFinal pic.twitter.com/Yn4YcLOFNG
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 10, 2023
Guardiola is just the third manager to win the top-flight, European Cup/Champions League, FA Cup, and League Cup with an English club, while he is the first man in history to win a continental treble with two different clubs.
Best breakthrough – Khvicha Kvaratskhelia
It takes a special type of talent to earn comparisons to Diego Maradona at Napoli, but that’s exactly what Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has done during a sensational debut season with the Italian side.
The Georgian winger has been in scintillating form for a Napoli side who were arguably the team of the group stage. Luciano Spalletti’s side – who ended a 33-year wait for the Serie A title this season – were superb to thrash Liverpool in their opening fixture before recording emphatic home and away wins against Ajax and Rangers.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 7, 2022
Kvaratskhelia was the headliner in their act and tormented full-backs with his purpose in possession, driving forward to take on defenders and create goalscoring opportunities.
Napoli’s run ended in the quarter-finals, but the 22-year-old scored two goals, made four assists and ranked among the Champions League’s top performers for shot-creating actions, successful take-ons, progressive carries and carries into the penalty area.
Biggest disappointment – Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain’s wait for Champions League success continues, with the club’s latest ‘challenge’ over before it had truly began.
PSG finished as runners-up to Benfica in the group stage by virtue of away goals scored, after the teams finished level on points, goal difference, and head-to-head games. That scenario provided PSG with a tough test against Bayern Munich in the last 16 and the Parisians suffered a meek exit, losing 3-0 on aggregate and failing to score across the two legs.
The lack of chemistry and over-reliance on individual moments for success has been a game plan that has not worked on the biggest stage and changes are needed if PSG are to compete with Europe’s top sides.
It was the fifth time in the last seven campaigns that PSG have exited the Champions League in the last 16.
Game of the Season – Barcelona 3-3 Inter Milan
Barcelona’s campaign was all but ended following a thrilling draw with Inter Milan in the group stage, with the Catalans in need of a win after defeat to the Italians a week earlier.
An enthralling opening saw both teams miss chances before Barcelona took the lead just before half-time, as Sergi Roberto squared for Ousmane Dembele to tap home from close range.
Inter responded five minutes after the break when Nicolo Barella took down Alessandro Bastoni’s long pass and finished well, before Lautaro Martinez crashed in an effort of both posts to complete a turnaround for the visitors.
Back came Barcelona, who equalised through Robert Lewandowski. The Polish forward’s first attempt fell back to him and Lewandowski drilled a low effort past the wrong-footed Andre Onana.
The final minutes proved chaotic as Robin Gosens smashed Inter back in front, only for Lewandowski to head home a superb second in stoppage time to give Barcelona hope once more. It was Inter who came closest to a winner in the final seconds however, as Marc-André ter Stegen denied Kristjan Asllani with a brilliant stop one-against-one.