Ronaldo, Messi, Ramos: Fans pick the greatest Champions League XI

Cristiano Ronaldo - the greatest player in Champions League history?

The Champions League is club football's greatest tournament.

Every single year, the very best players do battle across Europe to try and earn the privilege of lifting the famous 'Big Ears' trophy.

It's a competition that acts as the perfect platform for world-class players to thrive and as such, we've been treated to some serious entertainment down the years.

Given the sheer volume of brilliant matches and individual performances that football lovers have been treated to over the past three decades or so, picking the greatest XI in Champions League history is seriously tough.

There are a few players who're guaranteed to feature in the majority of teams, most notably Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the only two players to have scored 100+ goals on Europe's biggest footballing stage.

Ronaldo & Messi

So when football fans were asked by BBC Sport back in August to pick their greatest Champions League XIs, the two superstars featured in the pretty much every single one.

Ronaldo was selected in 90% of teams, while Messi earned a spot in 88% of them.

But there was far more competition for the remaining nine positions and we've provided the final XI in full below, as well as the percentage of votes each player received.

Let's take a look...

The Champions League trophy

Football fans' greatest Champions League XI

GK - Gianluigi Buffon (32%)

RB - Dani Alves (40%)

CB - Paolo Maldini (73%)

CB - Sergio Ramos (52%)

LB - Roberto Carlos (40%)

CM - Zinedine Zidane (63%)

CM - Xavi Hernandez (40%)

CM - Andres Iniesta (53%)

RW - Lionel Messi (88%)

ST - Thierry Henry (26%)

LW - Cristiano Ronaldo (90%)

The fans' greatest CL XI

Not a bad team that.

Carlos over Marcelo at left-back is an interesting call. The former is obviously an iconic figure, but the latter has played a pivotal role in four Champions League triumphs at Real Madrid.

The midfield is jam-packed with so many legends that Steven Gerrard, Liverpool's hero in the 2004/05 edition of the tournament, fails to make the cut.

He was at least the most selected English player and fourth most popular midfielder, the current Rangers boss earning 23% of the vote from fans.


Up top, Henry just about sneaks into the team, but we must point out that the XI was selected before Bayern Munich's triumph in the 2019/20 final.

Had it been after, it's probably safe to assume that Robert Lewandowski - the competition's joint-third highest scorer with 71 goals - would be leading the line at the expense of the Arsenal legend.

Manuel Neuer would likely have been selected ahead of Buffon as well, with Bayern's 1-0 victory over PSG securing the German 'keeper his second Champions League title.

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