The Champions League is a very special tournament. Its legacy, lore, and importance are unmatched. As football players, you want to perform your best on a Champions League night.
It is the crown jewel of European football and winning it means achieving the pinnacle of success in Europe.
In contrast to the domestic league, where even if you make mistakes here and there, but consistently perform in the long run, the team will win the league.
However, the Champions League is a direct knock out which leaves no room for errors.
It makes little difference if a club wins all six group stage games, then both legs in the RO16 and Quarters; if you have one terrible semi-final game and make one error, you will lose the entire tournament.
Consistency is not of paramount importance in the Champions League, but having a purple patch in the knockout games beginning in February is pivotal to winning the tournament.
When the tournament is in its business end, the biggest teams in Europe are more often than not poised to clash, and the outcome is more likely to be determined by individual brilliance rather than a team effort. Because both sides are evenly matched.
That is why the Champions League sets apart the best players from the mediocre. The players that make the difference for their side on a Champions League night are truly extraordinary – a class apart!
So, let’s have a look at some of the players who do make a difference when playing against the best clubs in the finest tournament, the UCL!
Paolo Maldini, a one-club icon at AC Milan, had already won the European Cup twice before the club was renamed in 1992. He’d appear in six more finals over the next 15 years, which is absurd.
Maldini won three of those finals, playing left-back and center-back alternately. So in total Maldini can put 5 Champions League in front of his name.
In that Barcelona team, Xavi pulled the strings, but Iniesta was the magician, creating the spark with his beautiful touches and passing.
His IQ was on another level, and Messi and Barcelona have missed his brilliance since he left.
It was his goal in the 2009 semi-final against Chelsea which Secured Barcelona a place in the finals, which they went to win by scoring 2 goals in the final against Manchester United.
Sergio Ramos needs no introduction his feats can speak for himself.
In the 2014 semi-final win over Bayern Munich, he scored two headers in four minutes.
then in the finals, he scored in the 93rd minute to force extra time, which Los Blancos won 4-1 to capture La Decima.
In the 2016 final, he scored Real’s lone goal as the club defeated rivals Atletico Madrid for the second time.
Club captain and warrior – Sergio Ramos!
Well it’s almost always down to either Messi or Ronaldo, isn’t it?
Lionel Messi has won the Champions League four times, is fourth in appearances with 149, and is the tournament’s second most goal scorer with 120 goals.
Messi’s four goals against Arsenal in 2010, his chip over Manuel Neuer in 2015, and an amazing dribble and goal past Real Madrid in 2011 are all famous moments for him.
Cristiano Ronaldo is without a doubt the best Champions League player of all time.
He has made the second-most appearances in tournament history, with 176, and is the competition’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 134.
His first trophy was won with Manchester United, and the other four with Real Madrid. But that’s not it. Champions League goal of the season awards in 2014, 2017, and 2018, five Ballon d’Or awards, and four European Golden Shoes.
That is why they call him Mr. Champions League.