Ranking the best 15 players in the 2021/22 Champions League so far

Champions League (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)
Champions League (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Eder Militao, Real Madrid
Eder Militao of Real Madrid (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /

The UEFA Champions League is the football theatre of every fan’s and player’s aspirations. Fans want their side to go all the way and win, while players strive to accomplish personal and collective glory in the tournament. These are the nights that every player fantasizes about conquering and giving his everything to win it all.

Something about the Champions League is just really fascinating since, regardless of its recurrence each year, the adrenaline, the anxieties, the gravity of the cup, the honour, nothing fades away, it rather rises.

The 2021/22 season was no exception, as it was replete with stunning clutch plays, shocking exclusions, eye-catching goals, and whatnot. The tournament has seen players perform to the best of their powers, some of which earned their team a spot in the next round, but for others, it was just never enough.

The UCL is now in its latter rounds when the heat is building and every loss will be devastating for the teams, but in this article, independent of the team’s collective performance, we have ranked the best 15 players in the current Champions League season thus far.

It should be emphasized that the ratings are based not just on individual performances, but also on how much of an impression the players had on their teams, how much weight their contribution carried regardless of the ultimate outcome after the whistle, and other relevant criteria.

Everything has been addressed, so let’s get straight into it and see where your favourite player ranks on the list.

(all the statistics in this article are courtesy of FBref.com)

15. Bruno Fernandes

Our first name on the list is Bruno Fernandes, who joined Manchester United from Sporting CP in the winter of 2020 for a cost of about 55 million euros and has made an incredible impact since donning the red crest. He’s assisted, scored, created, and done everything you’d expect from a midfielder at that price.

The “Portuguese Magnifico,” as Manchester United fans refer to him, has more than justified the epithet bestowed upon him. It is tough for newcomers to get into the team sheets right away, especially in a league as harsh and unforgiving as the Premier League, but this was not the case with Bruno, who quickly made an impression, becoming a staple mainstay in every starting XI.

But, if that’s the case, why rank him so low at #15? Allow me to explain. Bruno is a wonderful playmaker, but what good is a playmaker in a task as big as the Champions League if he does not contribute on a routine basis? Consistency has been a major issue for the Portuguese in this season’s UCL campaign, and it was also a widely acknowledged cause for the club’s not-so-surprising but predicted exit from the Champions League at the hands of Atletico de Madrid.

Bruno has had his moments, but irregularity always finds a way in via one of the gaps. His influence is undeniably obvious, but I feel that the exaggeration and excitement produced around his name end up overshadowing his poor performances, which will be detrimental in the future. Nonetheless, it should be noted that his contribution, albeit in spurts, was critical to the English team in order to go as far as they could, and therefore he is well-deserving of a spot in the top 15, albeit at the bottom.

14. Eder Militao

Eder Militao, along with David Alaba, has successfully covered the voids left by Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane at Real Madrid. The departure of the legendary pair was viewed as the most anxious period at the club, but Eder Militao showed up and snapped the fears away.

His defensive genius, occasional runs forward (identical to Ramos), and compactness drive Los Blancos’ defence on a daily basis. In a brief period, the teenager has matured into a complete defender and an essential member of Real Madrid’s team.

Militao has gone a long way from being a player who was previously relegated to the list of unsuccessful signings to one who has set an example of seizing the opportunity. Though the Brazilian began to show his quality during Zidane’s second spell due to Ramos’ perpetual injury crisis, it was under Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment, after Ramos and Varane left, that Militao was completely relied on by the team and management and not to mention, he stood up to all the expectations.

This season, his Champions League play with Real Madrid may be described as bold, aggressive yet responsible, dependable, and unexpected. Bold due to the amount of weight he bears on the squad, along with David Alaba, which derives from his aggression at times to take a stance for the team while also being responsible and careful with foul plays. His dependability is unfathomable due to his constant defensive activity, as well as his ability to surprise with unexpected dribbles and header attempts in the net.

He is without a doubt one of the greatest performers in the Champions League this season, sitting comfortably in 14th place.