CM Luka Modric
It was always going to be an obvious choice. Luka Modric, a Ballon d’Or is a legend of the game and he is someone who can also make it to the overall greatest Champions League XI. Being the assister of the historic 92:48 goal, and a four-time Champions League winner, the Croatian isn’t done yet and is hungry to win some more titles. His 2021/22 Champions League campaign is enough to talk about his legacy.
Three of my favourite Luka Modric moments in the Champions League are his stunning long-range goal against Manchester United in 2013, his assist to Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2017 final, and his assist to Karim Benzema against PSG in 2022. A goal that changed his Real Madrid career, and two assists that show everything about Luka Modric’s two most important traits, skill, and determination.
CM Toni Kroos
One of the most successful German footballers of all time, Toni Kroos makes it to this list with ease. The German has won a total of four Champions League titles, winning three of them with Real Madrid during the three-peat era, and winning another one with Bayern Munich.
We can’t pinpoint a single game to talk about Toni Kroos’ brilliance in the Champions League. Every performance from him in the Champions League is a masterclass of its own, and it is his unmatchable consistency that makes him one of the greatest midfielders of all time. If you ask me to pick my favourite Kroos moment in the Champions League, it has to be his assist to Vinicius Jr against Liverpool last season. A moment that has “elegance in simplicity” written all over it.
CAM Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane, one of the greatest midfielders of all time if not the greatest, had played just five seasons and 45 Champions League games for Real Madrid in his career. But he has done enough to make it to the top bracket of the list of Real Madrid’s biggest legends. He has 9 goals and 13 assists for Real Madrid in the Champions League, and out of them, his unbelievable left-footed volley in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen has to be the best moment. It is also a moment that defines Zidane’s legacy at Real Madrid as a winner.
And if we are going to choose a manager for this team, the obvious choice for that role has to be Zidane himself. There is no other manager that won the Champions League back to back in the Champions League era, forget winning it back to back to back, like Zidane. This feat just took Zidane’s legacy at Real Madrid to a different level.