The Champions League Final saw Real Madrid pick up a narrow 1-0 win over Liverpool to lift the trophy in Paris on Saturday. It marks the 14th title for the Spanish giants, helping them extend their lead over any other team in number of UCL trophies.
Over the 2021/22 Champions League season, a number of thrilling games took place to keep fans on the edge of their seats. Real Madrid and Liverpool led the way with the best performances, while the likes of Man City and Villarreal also put up valiant efforts.
Several individual performances stood out, but here are the 4 best players of the 2021/22 Champions League campaign.
Karim Benzema: Best of 2021/22 Champions League
Karim Benzema enjoyed his most successful season with Real Madrid, carrying Los Blancos on his shoulders for most of it. Not only did he excel in La Liga (scoring 27 goals and registering 12 assists in 32 games) to help his side win the title, he did a similar job in the Champions League.
The major difference is that he did it against some of the world’s best in Europe. Benzema ended the Champions League campaign with 15 goals and 2 assists in 12 appearances. He scored 10 goals in the knockout stages – including hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea.
The Frenchman was a defiant leader, orchestrating stunning comebacks and helping his side plow through the opposition. After winning the Champions League, Benzema is now the bookies’ favorite (via Sky Bet) to win the Ballon d’Or. After watching his performances this season, there can be no denying that.
Mo Salah: Liverpool’s deadly magician
Mo Salah might’ve experienced a dip in this season’s second half, but there’s no denying that he enjoyed another brilliant campaign with Liverpool. The Egyptian was one of the most exciting players in the Champions League this season, rocking up the group stage for his side.
Salah scored 8 goals in 13 appearances, the majority coming in the group stage and helping his side place first easily. Mo’s brilliant movement and finishing ability made him a joy to watch as he powered his side through the round-robin format.
The Egyptian was actually very proactive in the final against Real Madrid, getting a record six shots on target for his side! He was denied again and again by the immaculate Thibaut Courtois or Mo might have had multiple goals. Still, Salah was one of the best performers in the Champions League, though the loss to Madrid might have ended his Ballon d’Or dreams.
Thibaut Courtois: Real Madrid’s hero in goal
Thibaut Courtois proved wrong every single doubter who said he’d never win the Champions League. The Belgian netminder was a major pillar of Los Blancos’ success, an absolute rock between the posts, simply sensational.
With Real Madrid’s shaky backline undergoing a transition, Courtois was under immense pressure throughout the knockout stages. What started with a brilliant penalty save to deny Lionel Messi in the first leg of the Round of 16 snowballed into something truly special.
Courtois produced stunning saves against PSG, Chelsea, and Man City to keep his side alive, setting the stage for Benzema’s late-game brilliance. But he reserved his best for last.
The Belgian keeper put on a career-best performance against Liverpool, making a record-setting 9 saves! He won Player of the Match honors in the final and deserves a ton of credit for helping Real Madrid win their 14th Champions League title.
Riyad Mahrez: Man City’s unpredictable predator
Man City actually had a pretty solid Champions League campaign before it was all undone by 30 odd minutes of Real Madrid magic in the semifinal. One key player was winger Riyad Mahrez, who proved his quality by coming up big in nearly all his side’s important matches.
Mahrez tormented defenders with his slick movement and dribbling ability. But it was his clinical finishing sense that got him involved in a lot of goals. Riyad scored 7 goals in the tournament, tops among City players.
He even scored a crucial goal in the semifinal second leg against Madrid, before his side crumbled following his late substitution. In more than one way, that proved City’s dependence on Mahrez and how impressive he was in this edition.