Your UEFA Europa League team of the season
Friday, May 29, 2015
After the UEFA Technical Observers picked their 18-man UEFA Europa League squad we asked for your #UELXI of the season. Here is what you came up with.
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The UEFA Technical Observers, including Sir Alex Ferguson and Lars Lagerbäck, picked their 18-man squad of the UEFA Europa League season after Wednesday's final but we wanted to whittle that number down to a starting XI so recruited our Twitter followers. Putting the call out on @EuropaLeague we asked for your #UELXI. This is what you came up with.
GK: Denys Boyko (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk)
The Ukrainian club's undisputed No1 played every minute of his team's campaign and his displays caught the attention across Europe. With clean sheets in precisely half of the 16 games en route to Warsaw, he proved almost unbeatable in the latter stages. Conceded only once across the four quarter and semi-final legs, and enjoyed a running duel with SSC Napoli's seven-goal Gonzalo Higuaín in the last four, making numerous outstanding stops to keep out the Argentinian and guarantee his side a final place.
DF: Faouzi Ghoulam (SSC Napoli)
A lively presence on the Partenopei's left flank, the Algerian was quietly impressive in defence but really caught the eye with his attacking forays. Never one to disregard his duties in the back four he nevertheless took every opportunity to get forward, bombing on past his winger time and again to fire crosses into the area. Always providing an outlet on the left, he made the most of the space created by Dries Mertens and José Callejón to cause opponents endless problems with his pace and tireless energy.
DF: Douglas (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk)
In a team whose challenge was built on defence, the Brazilian proved the standout performer of the Dnipro back line. Did not miss a minute of the campaign from the 20 August play-off first leg against HNK Hajduk Split to the final in Warsaw. With Douglas having come up against some of the continent's most dangerous attacking players, the fact he picked up just two yellow cards and committed only 12 fouls in 15 matches from the group stage is testimony to the excellent timing of his tackles and superb positioning.
DF: Aleix Vidal (Sevilla FC)
One of the stars of the tournament, his profile has been raised considerably by his UEFA Europa League showings this term. Brought to Sevilla from UD Almería last summer he is now a new entry to the Spain squad. With his adaptability clear for all to see, operating equally adeptly at right-back or on the right of midfield, he saved his best for when it really mattered. Scored twice and set up the other in the 3-0 semi-final first-leg victory over ACF Fiorentina to virtually guarantee Sevilla a place in the final.
MF: Kevin De Bruyne (VfL Wolfsburg)
The Belgian winger appeared almost unplayable at times, proving the catalyst for a Wolfsburg side that lit up the competition en route to the quarter-finals. Contributed five assists while a stunning volley against LOSC Lille in the group phase was the pick of his five goals. FC Internazionale Milano were unable to live with his attacking wit in the round of 16, the former Chelsea FC man scoring two and teeing up the same number across the 5-2 aggregate triumph.
MF: Marek Hamšík (SSC Napoli)
The driving force behind the Serie A club's surge to the semis. Higuaín may have claimed seven of Napoli's goals but the Slovakian captain supplied the impetus. His numbers are impressive on their own – four goals and two assists in 12 games from central midfield – as the No17 stepped up to the plate when required. Drawn against the competition's form team in Wolfsburg in the quarter-finals, Hamšík had an inspired first leg, his double in Germany stopping the Wolves in their tracks and eventually proving decisive.
MF: Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla FC)
Finished on the highest possible note, netting Sevilla's first and lifting the trophy in his homeland. If he was a key presence in the final, he was merely doing what he had done all campaign. Alongside the also excellent Stéphane Mbia, he provided the steel to his side's otherwise free-flowing football. Stepping in and breaking up opposition attacks, he was also adept at contributing to Sevilla's intricate passing game as he featured in 13 of their 15 fixtures and contributed two goals.
MF: Ruslan Rotan (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk)
Dnipro's captain will be remembered for his delightful free-kick in the final, a deft and perfectly placed effort that sailed gracefully into the corner. That was an apt mark for the ball-playing midfielder to leave on the competition after an eye-catching season. His team's style was to play on the counter and he proved crucial to that, offering a cool head in the heat of battle to pick the killer pass on numerous occasions. Three goals and an assist were his admirable haul.
FW: Alan (FC Salzburg)
Though Alan figured just five times in the group stage before a January transfer to China with Guangzhou Evergrande, that was more than enough for the Brazilian to make an impact. His final three outings reaped seven goals as a hat-trick against GNK Dinamo Zagreb was followed by doubles against Celtic FC and FC Astra Giurgiu. A versatile forward who can flourish anywhere across the front line, his exit proved a major blow to the Austrian outfit who departed at the first hurdle after their talisman left. His eight-goal tally (later matched by Everton FC's Romelu Lukaku) remained unsurpassed in 2014/15.
FW: Carlos Bacca (Sevilla FC)
May well have made the side for his final heroics alone – a pair of finishes made to look ridiculously simple under the most intense pressure, plus being a world-class save away from a hat-trick. However, the Colombian did not just wait for the glory at the end, because his five goals pre-Warsaw were also vital. Deadly inside the box, his strikes were invariably first-time finishes and the South American's acceleration and anticipation helped him manufacture scoring positions time and again.
FW: Yevhen Konoplyanka (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk)
The ace in Dnipro's pack, Konoplyanka was the one man in the team who could make something out of nothing. Unfortunately for him, his opponents knew that too, and the No10 ended as the most fouled player in the competition. Was sinned against 49 times, 17 more than the next most infringed, Sevilla's Vitolo. His speed was essential to the Ukrainians' ability to hit on the break and the fact he was often double-marked left team-mates free to do the damage if he was unable to.
Agree? Disagree? Get in touch on @EuropaLeague Twitter using #UELXI.