Jose Mourinho names his Champions League team of the season – with some BIG absentees
Liverpool sealed a sixth top European title with victory over Tottenham in an all-English final in Madrid on Saturday night, bringing the curtain down on what was a tournament full of thrills, spills and incredible comebacks.
Now that the dust has settled, two-time Champions League winner Mourinho revealed to RT on his show ‘On the Touchline with Jose Mourinho’ just who he would pick as the cream of the crop from the tournament.
Before naming his prize picks the Portuguese did, however, lay down one caveat: namely that he would only pick players from teams which had reached the final four of the competition.
That meant the field was narrowed down considerably to semifinalists Liverpool, Barcelona, Tottenham and Ajax.
“I didn’t chose a player that was not in the semi-finals, it’s a principle, very objective, very pragmatic,” Mourinho explained. “Some players did amazing things, but I think it’s fair we focus on the teams that reach the last four.”
Mourinho’s first pick was for a goalkeeper, and he opted for Liverpool’s Brazilian stopper Alisson, who has brought such immense assuredness to his team since joining from Roma last summer – and was key to keeping Spurs at bay in Madrid.
“I go to Alisson, especially because [on Saturday] he was there when the needed him to be there,” Mourinho said.
There was also a distinct Liverpool feel to Mourinho’s back line, starting on the flanks.
“The two full-backs also have to be Liverpool players, amazing players, [Trent] Alexander-Arnold and [Andy]Robertson,” the former Manchester United boss said of a full-back pairing that have become the envy of Europe.
“Amazing character and personality. One [Alexander-Arnold] is a local boy, another [Robertson] is a Scottish boy that a few years ago was relegated with Hull City.
“And both they are physical, they are aggressive, they are what I call in football ‘the good arrogance’, they are not afraid to play, they go forward, they participate in attack.
“And even in a game yesterday under huge pressure they were very, very good.”
Anchoring his defense, Mourinho opted for Liverpool’s Dutch colossus Virgil Van Dijk, who was immense again in the final in Madrid.
“Van Dijk is a king, he is a huge personality. Positionally, a top top player,” Mourinho said.
He would also pair him with a fellow Dutchman, 19-year-old Ajax skipper Matthijs de Ligt, who has been just as valuable for his team.
“I think De Ligt. Very young, a great captain for Ajax, great performances, important goals. I think De Ligt belongs to the best of this Champions League,” Mourinho said.
Moving to midfield, Mourinho retained a youthful Ajax feel to the team.
“I would go to [Frenkie] de Jong and [Donny] van de Beek from Ajax.
“Also young players, also great future, also they showed great personality to play the way they did away from home, against Real Madrid, against Juventus. Big personalities and players with a huge future.”
Away from Ajax, Mourinho found room for beaten finalist Christian Eriksen of Spurs, one the game’s top playmakers.
“And [Christian] Eriksen, because I think not phenomenal in the final like his team was not phenomenal, a huge mistake in the quarter-final but a mistake that was saved by the VAR against [Manchester] City, but the compass of that team,” Mourinho said.
Up front was arguably where Mourinho sprang his biggest shocks, with his self-enforced semifinalist restriction meaning that Cristiano Ronaldo – a man he worked with at Real Madrid – would not make the cut.
Ronaldo’s great rival Messi, however, did get the nod, despite the agonizing 4-0 semifinal second-leg defeat against Liverpool.
“In spite of a disappointing second leg at Anfield, Messi. No Ronaldo with an incredible comeback against Atletico [Madrid], no Ronaldo because he didn’t reach the semifinals, but Messi did and did an amazing semifinal first leg too,” Mourinho said.
Completing the team up front, the Portuguese opted for Liverpool pairing Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, both of whom, at one stage or another, were crucial to their team clinching a sixth European Cup on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s 2018/19 Champions League team in full (team, country, age):
Goalkeeper: Alisson Becker (Liverpool, Brazilian, 26)
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, English, 20)
Left-back: Andy Robertson (Liverpool, Scottish, 25)
Center-backs: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, Dutch, 27); Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax, Dutch, 19)
Midfield: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax, Dutch, 22), Donny van de Beek (Ajax, Dutch, 22), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham, Danish, 27)
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Argentinian, 31); Sadio Mane (Liverpool, Senegalese, 27); Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egyptian, 26).
You can get all of Mourinho's expert insight into the Champions League final in the latest episode 'On the Touchline with Jose Mourinho' here: