The Second Annual Champions League XI Revealed!By: Rob | May 20th, 2009
So the votes are in, and the polls are closed. And today I can reveal, in its entirity, the 2009 Champions League Offside Team of the Year. Before we get on to the actual team, probably worth poiting a few things out.
Firstly, its a public vote, so for the love of God don’t complain to me if you don’t agree with something – Hell, I don’t agree with everything. Second, its noticeably less of a cosmopolitan team, in terms of which sides they came from this year. Last season’s XI featured players from a variety of clubs, but it seems this year, you only really thought two sides turned up.
Thirdly, its back to 4-4-2 this year after last years team dallied with 5 in midfield.
The Team of the Season, after the jump.
Van Der Saar - The Man United keeper started the season a little shakily but soon got into the rhythm of things, and became a part of United’s often unpenetrable back five. In the Premier League he kept a clean sheet record, and kept a number of clean sheets in the Champions League. Mind you, with that defence in front of him, it makes his job considerably easier. Still had to get the job done when he was called upon though, and he always did. He will be absolutely vital in Rome.
Best Moment: Any of United’s 4 clean sheets in the KO stages.
Patrice Evra – Still in from last year, the Man United left-back has again formed a vital part of that United back five. Great going forwards, but with a brilliant ability to stick back if he needs to keep tabs on someone (Theo who?) he’s become a certainty in United’s back line. He’ll be essential in Rome, when he’ll have someone else from this team to mark.
Best Moment: Again, its tough to look past the clean sheets, but he might have to have his best performance yet in the final.
Rio Ferdinand - It seems so long ago that Rio was a player with concentration issues who liked to get forward a touch too much. Now he’s one of the most skillful defenders in the world, a brilliant tackler and a United captain for years to come. He not only has the most uncanny ability to keep quality strikers out of entore games, but He also still gets forward, but he knows how to get back too. Between him and Vidic, they provide United with a whole other threat going forward.
Best Moment: Ibrahimwho?
Nemandja Vidic - Up from last years bench, Vidic has got better and better in his time and United, and ran away with the centre back’s poll. Him and Ferdinand look like an absolute wall at the back. Alot of complaints that he didn’t win any of the Premier League awards this season, but for certain, Vidic has been United’s most valuable player at home and in Europe, and there was no way he wasn’t going to make this team.
Best Moment: For all his defensive goodness, his goal against Inter in the opening minutes was crucial.
Daniel Alves: Lacklustre in the Semi-Final, and will miss the final, but despite that Alves still makes your team, which shows the striking impression he made in the earlier stages, where he reminded you of a young Roberto Carlos, who could actually defend.
Best Moment: pretty much all the group stage when there was talk of him being the best player in the world.
Lionel Messi – The top scorer in the Champions League so far, Lil Leo has been the heartbeat of a team many assume to be the best in the world. He’s only one game away from winning the next Ballon d’or too.
Best Moment Take your pick really. I’m going to go for his performance against Bayern in the first half of the Nou Camp. Sublime.
Andres Iniesta - Iniesta has got progressively more important to Barca as the Champions League has gone on. I think outside of Catalonia he was considered a bit inferior to his team-mate Xavi, but as the Champions League has gone on he has more than proved his ability. He can move wide when Barca need him too, he words incredibly hard whether Barca are one down, or four up. And he’s scored a quite important goal to put them where they are now.
Best Moment: The last minute goal against Chelsea, of course.
Xavi - Oooh Xavi’s a bit good isn’t he? Probably the best creative player in the world at the moment, Xavi can do anything, and his vision of passing is among the very best there has ever been. The way he can pick out a pass, set up a goal, or importantly, just keep Barca’s momentum up, he’s astounding. He never misplaces a pass either, he’s a big part of why they have so much possession in games. Barca, or Spain really wouldn’t have been the same without him.
Best Moment: Cut out 4 defenders with a single pass against Lyon. Four! Staggering.
Cristiano Ronaldo - Last years Best Player in The World is another who has looked better as the season has worn on. Started off with an injury which took time to get back from, but once he found his feet he was flying again. Scored in every round.
Best Moment: The screamer against Porto.
Fernando Torres – Last season’s loan striker is sharing the frontline this season, but he’s the only player who makes the starting XI who isn’t playing for either Barcelona or Manchester United. That alone shows his importance to Liverpool.
Best Moment: You know scoring against Real Madrid will have meant the world to him.
Wayne Rooney – Last season people started to question Rooney’s importance in the future of United, and indeed he started the season the wing. But Rooney always works incredibly hard, back tracking and playing all over the pitch, and has been rewarded with being Man United’s striker choice. He’s become talismanic to United, and he’ll almost certainly be at Old Trafford longer than some of his teammates. Not thinking of anyone in particular mind…
Best moment: Scored goals for fun in the group stage.
Pep Guardiola – In his first season he’s done it all, including shading out Sir Alex Ferguson in the manager polls. Sublime at home, after looking awkard in his opening game, In Europe he hasn’t put a foot wrong, producing a Barca side shorn of a few superstars (Ronaldinho, Deco, nearly Samuel Eto’o) and yet performing at a higher level that they were last season. And Sir Alex will surely have noticed the similarity between the celebrations of Pep against Chelsea, and Jose against United all those years ago.
Iker Casillas: His defence often left him with loads to do, but he often kept Real in matches. To suggest he’s worth his wait in gold to them, is a massive understatement. Extraordinary at stopping shots, He almost certainly is, the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment, and is going to be a massive part of Spain’s preparations for South Africa next year. Looking across this side, you wouldn’t exactly bet against the Spanish to repeat the feat of Euro 2008, would you?
Davide Santon: Controversial, as he is in mainly for his ability to keep CR7 quiet, the Inter wing back is a massive prospect for the future. He’s only played a handful of games for Inter Milan this season, but he is showing alot of promise. Even Ronaldo was singing his praises after the game with Manchester United, and that doesn’t happen every week.
Franck Ribery – The French midfielder might have suffered a bit in that drubbing at the Nou Camp, but he never gave up, and he had previously masterminded a brilliant performance against Sporting in the round before. Alot of people were talking about the game against Barca being a dress rehearsal for his eventual move to Catalonia in the summer, and judging on his performances in a very tough group, and then against Sporting, he would more than fit in at the Nou Camp.
Michael Carrick: Man United might have lamented the loss of Owen Hargreaves to injury this season, but Carrick has done really well on his own. His tackling and his range of passes only seem to get better.
Didier Drogba: He’ll be remembered for his foul-mouthed outburst after the Barca match, but Drogba was still a goalscoring machine in Europe. If he’d just put one of the chances away against Barca, he’d probably have made the starting XI.