Football is a game of 90 minutes. However, often it is decided by individual moments of brilliance by those on the pitch. The Champions League is the highest level of club football there is, combining teams from all across Europe to compete on the best platform. To be able to deliver in such a setting is a dream for any footballer. The 2018-19 edition was no different as a number of top names of World Football registered their credentials on the highest level. Here’s our Top 20 Footballers in UCL.
20. Marc-André ter Stegen, Goalkeeper, FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona’s German shotstopper ter Stegen has been at his sublime best, so much so that he’s forced Germany manager Joachim Low’s hand in giving him the nod to start ahead of national captain Manuel Neuer.
His performances in the Champions League have been top draw, his only dark spot being when he and his defense conceded 4 against Liverpool in the second leg of the Semifinal. Number 20 in our Top 20 Footballers in UCL.
19. Alisson Becker, Goalkeeper, Liverpool FC
For a Liverpool side that had been struggling for a quality goalkeeper since time eternity, Loris Karius’ fumbles in the 2018 Champions League Final was the tipping point.
They decided to ring in the changes and brought in Brazilian Alisson from AS Roma. And, he has hit the ground running. Alisson now has a Champions League winner’s medal to his name. His performances in the Champions League against Barcelona and Napoli were decisive. Number 19 in Top 20 Footballers in UCL.
18. Virgil van Dijk, Defender, Liverpool FC
Dutch international Virgil van Dijk came to Liverpool as the most expensive defender of his time and things could have easily gone south.
However, van Dijk soaked up the pressure, lived up to his reputation and guided Liverpool to Champions League glory in his first full season as a Red.
He has been ever present in Jurgen Klopp’s side at the back, a towering presence intimidating forwards. Number 18 in our Top 20 Footballers in UCL.
17. Matthijs de Ligt, Defender, Ajax
Virgil’s national centre-back partner Matthijs de Ligt was a livewire in central defense for Erik ten Hag’s side Ajax. He was responsible to the greatest extent for Ajax’s fairytale ride to the Champions League semifinals.
He secured a big money move to Italy, to Juventus, to a star-studded squad led by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala. He contributed with goals as well for Ajax’s cause. Number 17 in our Top 20 Footballers in UCL.
16. Jan Vertonghen, Defender, Tottenham Hotspurs
Jan has been a rock at the back for Spurs since Mauricio Pochettino took over in summer 2016. He has been partnered by his national teammate Toby Alderweireld.
He was the top draw in the Champions League 2018-19 as he played centre-back, a back three and a left-back for Tottneham’s cause.
Spurs went down to Liverpool in the Final of the competition but it has been individual performances like Jan’s that will make him a popular figure in this famous club’s folklore. Number 16 in our Top 20 Footballers in UCL.
15. Trent Alexander Arnold, Defender, Liverpool FC
Trent Alexander Arnold or TAA as he is popularly called, is born and bred in the Liverpool academy since age 9. Since Jurgen Klopp’s takeover, he has been going from strength to strength, pushing his game to a whole new level.
Operating down the right flank, he partners with Mo Salah, a combination that the World oogles at. Goals, assists, defending, TAA is everywhere for Liverpool.
14. Andy Robertson, Defender, Liverpool FC
The other flank for the Reds has the highly talented Scotland skipper Andy Robertson. Highly adept at putting in inch-perfect crosses into the box, Robertson has redefined full-back play for the modern era.
Always ending up running more than anybody else on the pitch, Andy Robertson is a perfect compliment for Sadio Mane on the left. Liverpool have scored multiple times thanks to his crosses and chips and we believe there is more to come.
13. Moussa Sissoko, Midfielder, Tottenham Hotspurs
A World Cup winner with France, Moussa Sissoko is the perfect fit to Mauricio Pochettino’s side in the Spurs lineup. Strong, well-built and having a keen eye for a pass, Sissoko is the governor general of the Tottenham midfield.
Part of the reason why Spurs haven’t missed Moussa Dembele so much is because the French has stood and made things count whenever the team needed him.
12. Hakim Ziyech, Midfielder, Ajax
Ziyech is goal when it comes to fast counterattacking football against the run of play. He dominated the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid defense with his burst of pace, picture perfect finishing and interlinking play.
Erik ten Hag’s Ajax depended on his fast style of play to attack with precision on the break, the kind of football that broke down the likes of Real, Juve and Spurs at home.
11. Kevin de Bruyne, Midfielder, Manchester City
Probably the best midfielder in the European game right now, the former Wolfsberg and Chelsea man has been the destructor-in-chief when Pep Guardiola’s side have dominated games.
The Champions League saw the Belgian step his game up a notch with his passing, his finishing and strangely, defensive work. He’s played like a machine in matches, thereby proving to be City’s X-Factor in games.
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10. Frenkie de Jong, Midfielder, Ajax
The Dutch prodigy came through the ranks at Ajax, one of the best academies in Europe to make it to one of the best teams in Europe, FC Barcelona.
He secured a big money transfer in 2019 with scintillating performances in the Champions League against some of the biggest teams on the planet.
Excellent ball control, wriggling past defenders and reading of the game make his a future midfield maestro along the likes of Xavi and Andrea Pirlo.
9. Tanguy Ndombele, Midfielder, Olympique Lyon
Another midfielder who wove magic with his feet in the Champions League last season was Lyon man Tanguy Ndombele.
Tottenham lured him to London post his showings with Lyon but Ndombele was simply the best defending midfielder last season in France with his aggressive instinctive play.
Ndombele is blessed with amazing finishing skills, very rare for someone who plays that deep, but it only adds to his value to the team.
8. Georginio Wijnaldum, Midfielder, Liverpool FC
Former Newcastle man Wijnaldum has become a World class talent under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool thanks to his hard work and adaptability that has enabled him to convert from a defensive midfielder to a typical No.6.
The Dutch national led Liverpool charge against Barcelona after being brought on as a substitute at Anfield with 2 goals before Origi sealed it with 2 more to overcome Lionel Messi’s team.
7. David Neres, Midfielder, Ajax
Ajax’s No.7 is a cult winger of the likes of Nani or Podolski, the kind that is so rare to find anymore.
The Brazilian plays on the right of midfield for Ajax and together with Ziyech and Tadic, made up one of the most fearsome attacks in the Champions League last season.
Neres still has a long way to go, given that he is only growing under the tutelage of Erik ten Hag at Ajax.
6. Raheem Sterling, Midfielder, Manchester City
A superstar in his own right both at Liverpool and now at Manchester City, Sterling is Pep Guardiola’s biggest success at Manchester City.
The 2018-19 season was no less than a dream ride for Sterling, who scored a couple of unbelievable goals in Man City’s charge to the quarters of the Champions League.
He was denied of his folklore moment at VAR ruled out his injury time would-be-winner against Tottenham at the Etihad stadium in the Quarterfinals of the Champions League.
5. Lionel Messi, Forward, FC Barcelona
Another Champions League, another Lionel Messi masterclass. Many considered this season to be Barca’s rise to Champions League glory again, but Barcelona defense faltered as they conceded 4 against Liverpool in the semis.
Messi ended the tournament as the highest scorer ahead of the likes of Salah, Mane and CR7. His curler against Liverpool in the first leg of the semis stands out as his best goal in the tournament. Number 5 in our Top 20 Footballers in UCL.
4. Dusan Tadic, Forward, Ajax
Few would believe that the forward who destroyed heavyweights like Real Madrid and Juventus in the 2018-19 Champions League was actually cooling his heels at Southampton a couple of seasons ago.
He was on fire for Ajax in the competition as with crucial goals and assists in games that mattered. Number 4 in our Top 20 Footballers in UCL.
3. Sadio Mane, Forward, Liverpool FC
Very much in the running for the Ballon d’Or for this season, Sadio Mane was ideally Liverpool’s best player last season and so far this season.
It is impossible to stop the Senegal international when he is full flow as a number of Premier League teams and most importantly Bayern Munich would agree to, after his wonderful solo goal against the Bavarians in Munich give Liverpool the impetus to win 3-1 and progress to the Semis. Number 3 in our Top 20 Footballers in UCL.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Forward, Juventus
Ronaldo’s benchmark moment in the Champions League 2018-19 was when he led Juve past Atletico Madrid in Turin with a hat-trick, pretty much his own doing.
The winner of five Champions Leagues and five Ballon d’Ors mean that CR7 is proven performer at his level but to stay at the level for years is something not every professional can achieve. Number 2 in our Top 20 Footballers in UCL.
1. Lucas Moura, Forward, Tottenham Hotspurs
The man who was dropped day in and day out for PSG at Parc des Princes has become a Champions League finalist in two years with London outfit Spurs.
His outstanding hat trick against Ajax in Amsterdam to take Spurs into the Champions League Final is one of the best footballing displays that you will see.
Lucas still has a long way to go and he has truly become Mauricio Pochettino’s go-to man for crunch situations. Numero Uno in our Top 20 Footballers in UCL.