Europa League breakthrough team of 2018

Who's hit the big time in 2018? Introducing our UEFA Europa League breakthrough XI.

UEFA.com picks out a team of young players who have broken through in the UEFA Europa League this calendar year.

In order to narrow the field, we set the following criteria: i) aged 24 or under; ii) UEFA Europa League debut in 2018 or only limited prior experience and made a major leap this year.

The question is: How would this team far against the UEFA Champions League breakthrough XI?

Goalkeeper: Dominik Livaković, 23 (Dinamo Zagreb)
Made his league debut aged 17 and is now the bedrock of a Dinamo Zagreb side that have lost just once all season. Kept three clean sheets in the group stage.

Pape Abou Cissé of Olympiacos
Pape Abou Cissé of Olympiacos©Getty Images

Defender: Pape Abou Cissé, 23 (Olympiacos)
Towering presence in the Olympiacos back line, allied to deceptive pace and a great awareness. The Senegal centre-back is also a threat from set pieces.

Defender: Joseph Aidoo, 23 (Genk)
The Ghanaian arrived at Genk with a reputation as the best defender in Sweden in 2017 and is already established among the finest in Belgium.

Defender: Junior Firpo, 22 (Real Betis)
Only made his senior debut in February but his effervescence on the left flank has made the Dominican Republic-born defender a player to fear at both ends.

Midfielder: Mijat Gaćinović, 23 (Eintracht Frankfurt)
A creative midfielder who is already an established international and has won cups with unfancied teams in Serbia and Germany. He makes Eintracht tick.

Midfielder: Giovani Lo Celso, 22 (Real Betis)
Scored three and set up another in five group outings, inspiring a decisive victory over AC Milan. Argentinian playmaker on loan from Paris Saint-Germain.

Midfielder: Kai Havertz, 19 (Bayer Leverkusen)
Three goals and three assists in the group stage are testament to his growing influence for Bundesliga side.

Villarreal's Pablo Fornals
Villarreal's Pablo Fornals©AFP/Getty Images

Midfielder: Pablo Fornals, 22 (Villarreal)
The Yellow Submarine's creative heartbeat, Fornals' movement, imagination and industry have been on display throughout.

Forward: Ismaïla Sarr, 20 (Rennes)
The lightning-quick wide player has shown himself capable of the spectacular, his thunderous shot against Jablonec on matchday one the pick of his three goals.

Forward: Luka Jović, 20 (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Only Munas Dabbur has scored more than Jović's five group stage goals. Eintracht's perfect campaign has been in no small part thanks to their penalty-area predator.

Forward: Takumi Minamino (Salzburg)
Came to the fore with a hat-trick away to Rosenborg in November, but has caught the eye whenever involved thanks to his versatility across the front line.

This team was selected by UEFA.com reporters and editors and is not intended to rival more established awards.

Top