Champions League Team of the Season: Haaland and Mbappe outshine Messi & Ronaldo

Paul Macdonald
Paul Macdonald
  • 30 May 2021 21:56 BST
  • 7 min read
Champions League Team of the Season: Haaland and Mbappe outshine Messi & Ronaldo

Chelsea have won the 2020/21 Champions League after defeating Manchester City in Portugal.

Thomas Tuchel got the better of Pep Guardiola, as a goal from Kai Havertz sealed a famous 1-0 win in the final.

It was a second Champions League triumph for Chelsea which left Man City still waiting for their first success.

A close final concluded a dramatic season of Champions League football, with PSG and Real Madrid the two teams who lost out to the Premier League sides in the semi-finals.

Erling Haaland finished as the top scorer with 10 goals despite Dortmund going out to Man City in the last eight.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, meanwhile, both crashed out in the last 16 and miss out on our best XI.

With the tournament now over, FootballTransfers have named our Champions League Team of the Season.

Here are the 11 players who made the cut in a 4-3-3 formation.

Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy – Chelsea

Keylor Navas had some fantastic performances for PSG in the tournament and is unfortunate to miss out.

But Edouard Mendy must be recognised after racking up an incredible nine clean sheets from 12 games.

No goalkeeper has ever kept more clean sheets in the tournament.

Mendy draws level on the record total with Santiago Canizares, who achieved the feat for Valencia in 2000/01 competition – and also with Navas himself. The Costa Rica international had nine clean sheets for Real Madrid in 2015/16.

After the struggles of Kepa Arrizabalaga, the performances of Mendy have been a valuable factor in Chelsea’s return to form.

Defender: Joshua Kimmich – Bayern Munich

Kimmich is the only Bayern player who makes our best XI as the German giants fell short in their bid to retain the Champions League they won so emphatically 12 months ago.

Kimmich is naturally a centre midfielder but still demonstrates that he is the best right back in the world after another brilliant season for Bayern.

He had the second-most number of assists in the Champions League in 2020/21 and Bayern fans will be wondering what would have happened had Robert Lewandowski not missed the quarter-final exit to PSG.

Juan Cuadrado will consider himself unlucky not to make our team after registering a brilliant six assists, but Juventus’ early exit in the last 16 to Porto rules him out.

Defender: Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea

The Spanish veteran joined Chelsea just after they last won the Champions League in 2012 and nine years later it was he who lifted Europe’s greatest trophy to the heavens in Porto.

Whether he was deployed as a centre back or as a right wing-back, Azpilicueta proved that he is tactically, mentally and defensively one of the best defensive players in circulation still.

Azpilicueta did a wonderful job neutralising Man City’s dangeous left-hand side in the final and was Chelsea’s inspirational leader throughout the tournament.

Never was this better exemplified when he hailed match-winner Kai Havertz as a future superstar during the post-match interviews.

Defender: Thiago Silva – Chelsea

Chelsea only conceded two goals in seven matches during the knockout stages. After their struggles early in the season, Tuchel transformed Chelsea into a formidable defensive unit.

Mendy was an important part of that, as was veteran defender Thiago Silva, whose experience was vital as he played the full 90 minutes in both matches against Real Madrid in the semi-finals.

Thiago Silva Chelsea 2020/21

Thiago Silva Chelsea 2020/21

He was forced off through injury in the final but played his part for the 39 minutes he was on the pitch. He has been an influential figure for the Blues on and off the pitch since signing after suffering PSG heartbreak along with Tuchel in last year’s final.

Few will say he does not deserve Champions League glory after a stellar career and he became Chelsea’s oldest player to appear in a European final.

Defender: Ferland Mendy – Real Madrid

In truth, this season’s Champions League wasn’t full of outstanding performances from left-backs.

One of the better performers was Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy, who has really started to establish himself as an important player this past season.

His energy and enterprise down the left flank has seen him push Marcelo out of the side, and he scored a crucial winning goal against Atalanta with a fine long-shot in the first-leg of the last 16.

Losing Mendy for the first leg of the semi-final versus Chelsea was a big blow for Madrid.

Midfielder: N’Golo Kante – Chelsea

Kante produced an incredible performance in the final against Man City, a performance that on its own would have been enough to earn selection.

He played at least some part in all 13 matches played in this season’s Champions League, also shining in both legs against Real Madrid and in the second leg of the last-16 triumph over Atletico Madrid.

Champions League Team of the Season: Haaland and Mbappe outshine Messi & Ronaldo

Champions League Team of the Season: Haaland and Mbappe outshine Messi & Ronaldo

The inclusion of Kante means his Chelsea midfield team-mate Jorginho – who was less of a factor in the final – narrowly misses out.

That is unfortunate for the former Napoli midfielder, who was one of the competition’s best players throughout the knockout stages and whose contributions are often overlooked by Premier League pundits.

Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne – Man City

It was a painful end to the tournament for De Bruyne, as Man City suffered defeat to his former club while he had to be replaced in the second half after suffering a double facial fracture.

De Bruyne had been fantastic in ensuring his side got to the final stage, though, scoring in the quarter-finals against Dortmund and in the semi-finals at PSG. Those efforts came after he helped to cut apart Marseille, Gladbach and Olympiacos in the group stages.

The Belgium international ended the tournament with three goals, four assists and a runners-up medal.

Midfielder: Toni Kroos – Real Madrid

Toni Kroos will already be remembered as one of the greatest players of his generation after a decade at the very top of European football.

But he only further enhanced his reputation this season for Real Madrid with a string of mesmeric Champions League performances in the centre of midfield.

Real Madrid star Toni Kroos

Real Madrid star Toni Kroos

Kroos was arguably Madrid’s standout player in the competition as they made the semi-finals and he produced a performance for the ages in the win over Liverpool in the quarter-final.

The Germany international ran the show in the Spanish capital with two sublime assists as Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1.

Forward: Riyad Mahrez – Man City

Mahrez finally established as a key player for Pep Guardiola in 2020/21 and he played a big role in Manchester City’s run to the final.

In nine starts in the Champions League, the 30-year-old made an impressive six goal contributions.

He scored both of City’s goals in the semi-final second leg win over PSG to book his club’s place in the final.

Mahrez also scored a crucial equaliser in the second half of the second leg of the quarter-final versus Borussia Dortmund, at a time when City were behind in the tie.

Forward: Erling Haaland – Dortmund

This was a season that cemented Haaland’s stardom. He topped the Champions League scoring charts with 10 goals in eight appearances for Dortmund, also adding two assists.

Four of those strikes came in a thrilling last-16 tie against Sevilla where Dortmund prevailed 5-4 on aggregate.

Champions League Team of the Season: Haaland and Mbappe outshine Messi & Ronaldo

Champions League Team of the Season: Haaland and Mbappe outshine Messi & Ronaldo

The 20-year-old also had four goals in two games against Club Brugge and netted against Lazio and Zenit in the group stage.

Haaland did not find the net in the quarter-final tie with Man City but did set up a goal for Marco Reus.

With 20 Champions League goals to his name already in his young career, Haaland is on pace to become one of the competition’s all-time greats, with the mammoth goal totals of Ronaldo and Messi a possible aspiration.

Forward: Kylian Mbappe – PSG

Mbappe produced an iconic performance for PSG against Barcelona in the last 16.

An incredible hat-trick from the World Cup winner gave his side a 4-1 win at Camp Nou in the first leg. It was an individual performance that will live long in the memory.

Mbappe also hit a double as PSG knocked out holders Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals and finished the tournament with eight goals from 10 matches, second only to Haaland in the scoring charts. He also had three assists in the group stages.

Had Mbappe been fully fit for the semi-final matches against Man City, Pep Guardiola’s men would have faced a much tougher task to make the final.