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Our Champions League Team of the Season for 2022/23

The UEFA Champions League season has come to an end with Manchester City crowned as the new champions of Europe.

Pep Guardiola’s side defeated Inter Milan in a tense final at The Atatürk Olympic in Istanbul, with Rodri’s goal securing the club’s first ever Champions League success and a historic treble.

Following the conclusion of the competition, we’ve compiled an all-star XI of the 2022/23 Champions League’s finest performers.

Our 2022/23 Champions League Team of the Season.

Goalkeeper: Andre Onana – Inter Milan

Inter Milan exceeded expectations to reach a first Champions League final in more than a decade, with the club’s defensive record the foundation for their success.

Andre Onana had a fine individual season in goal for the Nerazzurri with the Cameroon international leading the Champions League for clean sheets (8) and saves (47).

Onana also topped the goalkeeping rankings for goals prevented – a metric calculated by subtracting the number of goals a keeper has conceded from the number of goals a keeper would be expected to concede based on the quality of shots he faced – at 7.8. It is the highest recorded goals prevented figure in a Champions League season since the data was first collected in 2017/18.

Right-back: Giovani Di Lorenzo – Napoli

Giovani Di Lorenzo has had a season to remember after becoming just the second player, after Diego Maradona, to captain Napoli to a Serie A title. The Italians were dominant domestically and carried that form into the early stages of the Champions League, securing impressive group stage wins against the likes of Liverpool, Ajax and Rangers.

Napoli reached the competition’s quarter-finals for the first time and despite fading in last eight were excellent beforehand, with Di Lorenzo a model of consistency at right-back. The 29-year-old scored twice and provided two assists as Napoli briefly threatened a challenge for the trophy.

 

Centre-back: John Stones – Manchester City

John Stones has been arguably the crucial cog in Pep Guardiola’s game-plan this season, with the defender remodelled – part centre-back, part-pivot, part playmaker.

Stones has been integral to the tactical approach from Manchester City and has evolved into one of Europe’s best – and most flexible – defensive talents.

The Barnsley Beckenbauer lived up to that billing as he waltzed around the Bernabeu during the semi-final tie with Real Madrid, while he was excellent once again in the final in a performance full of the class and composure that has epitomised his season.

The adaptable, exceptional Rolls-Royce in Europe’s best side.

Centre-back: Ruben Dias – Manchester City

Ruben Dias was an ever-present during Manchester City’s run through the knockout stages, a committed central defensive colossus with a driven will to win.

Dias’s determined defending stood out during City’s quarter-final win over Bayern Munich, while the Portugal international stood strong during the final success against Inter. Dias led the game for duels won (10) aerial duels won (6) and clearances (5), while completing 100% of his tackles and take-on attempts.

It capped a fine European campaign for the defender, who has now won three consecutive Premier League titles, reached at least the UCL semi-finals in three straight seasons, and won the Treble since arriving at the Etihad.

That’s some influence.

Left-back: Federico Dimarco – Inter Milan

Federico Dimarco has flourished in a more advanced role at Inter Milan this season and the wing-back’s ability to change games was evident during the club’s run to the Champions League final.

Dimarco provided five assists in 10 appearances for Inter and was a constant outlet for Simeone Inzaghi’s side with marauding runs forward down the left. His delivery was so often of the highest standard as the 25-year-old looked to carve out chances for his team-mates.

His five assists – all of which came from open-play – is the joint-most by an Inter player in a single Champions League season, alongside Samuel Eto’o and Wesley Sneijder.

Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City

Rodri’s name will forever be associated with Manchester City’s maiden Champions League success, after the midfielder’s final winner against Inter Milan.

The Spaniard had scored his first goal in the competition with a spectacular effort against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, before slamming home the decisive goal in the final.

In between there were performances that added credit to Rodri’s argument as the best defensive midfielder in the game, a footballer who has become the fulcrum of Europe’s finest team and the man who makes City tick.

Midfield: Federico Valverde – Real Madrid

Federico Valverde drove Real Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals, before the holder’s defence ended in abrupt fashion at the Etihad.

The Uruguay international has become the man for all occasions for Real Madrid, setting the tone with relentless work-ethic whether he’s stationed out wide or in a central role.

He scored twice and provided three assists in 11 appearances, though it’s often Valverde’s lung-busting contributions off the ball which make him so important to the Spaniards.

Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne came alive during the knockout rounds for Manchester City and ended the competition as the Champions League’s leading assist provider in 2022/23

De Bruyne created six goals and scored two of his own, including that sweet strike in the semi-final first leg at Real Madrid to get Manchester City back into the tie.

His final ended early as the midfielder was substituted with injury, but De Bruyne was a driving factor in City’s coronation as European champions for the first time. Few have had as big a contribution as De Bruyne in City’s continued excellence of recent seasons.

Forward: Jack Grealish – Manchester City

Jack Grealish has arrived as a Manchester City player this season, with the winger looking at home in the club’s treble-winning team after a challenging first campaign at the Etihad.

Grealish still has more to do when it comes to the tangible numbers of goals and assists, but the underlying statistics demonstrate his influence on this side. The 27-year-old comfortably led the Champions League for key passes (35) in 2022/23, while he also topped the rankings for shot-creating actions and fouls won.

Grealish’s ability to attract multiple defenders and free space for others has long been one of his greatest strengths and he ranked behind only Vinicius Junior for progressive carries and carries into the penalty area. There’s good reason why he started all but one of City’s 13 fixtures, including each knockout round game.

Forward: Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid

Vinicius Junior continued his evolution into one of world football’s finest talents with another brilliant season on the big stage.

Vinicius was the leading light in Real Madrid’s run to the last four, scoring seven goals, providing five assists, and leading the Champions League for progressive carries and carries into the penalty area.

The Brazilian is box-office and showed his big-game pedigree with wonderful goals against Manchester City and Liverpool during the knockout rounds, with the 22-year-old emerging as Real Madrid’s most influential star.

Following Karim Benzema’s exit, the onus on Vinicius will be greater than ever as the Spaniards look to challenge again next season.

Forward: Erling Haaland – Manchester City

Debut seasons don’t get much better than this.

Erling Haaland has ended his first season with Manchester City as a treble winner, having scored a record-breaking 52 goals in all competitions.

No Premier League player has ever scored more in a single season than Haaland, who has claimed both the Premier League and Champions League leading scorer accolades.

His influence might have waned in the latter rounds, but Haaland’s goals fired City into the deep end of the tournament. His five-goal destruction of RB Leipzig was sensational viewing.

Read – Appreciating the sides to win the Champions League as part of a treble

Read Also – Iconic Performances: Rivaldo and the greatest hat-trick ever scored

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