Champions League breakthrough team of 2018 – UEFA Champions League – News picks out a team of young players who have broken through in the UEFA Champions League this calendar year.

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

Goalkeeper: Odisseas Vlachodimos, 24 (Benfica)
Has made a string of impressive saves and been one of Benfica’s brightest sparks in a testing group stage campaign.

Defender: Milan Škriniar, 23 (Inter Milan)
Excelled during his maiden campaign with his astute reading of the game and positional nous.

Defender: Matthijs de Ligt, 19 (Ajax)
Already club captain, De Ligt has all the characteristics of a classy centre-back and all the hallmarks of an Ajax academy product.

Defender: Andy Robertson, 24 (Liverpool)
Only made his UEFA Champions League debut in February but played in May’s final. The energetic Robertson is pivotal to Liverpool’s style.

Midfielder: Frenkie de Jong, 21 (Ajax)
De Jong has all the poise, creativity, technique and positional versatility of the modern central midfielder – Ajax’s heartbeat.

Midfielder: Houssem Aouar, 20 (Lyon)
Calm with the ball at his feet and with vision to match, Aouar’s group stage displays have gone some way to justifying the ‘New Iniesta’ tag.

Midfielder: Arthur, 22 (Barcelona)
“I think we’re looking at a player that can mark an era at Barcelona.” When Xavi says that about a midfielder, it’s worth listening.

Midfielder: Nikola Vlašić, 21 (CSKA)
On loan from Everton, Vlašić helped himself to three group goals and two assists this term. Has quickly become a leader for CSKA.

Forward: Cengiz Ünder, 21 (Roma)
Helped Roma to last season’s semis and has kicked on this term thanks to his pace, creativity and lethal left foot. Scored three group goals.

Forward: Hirving Lozano, 23 (PSV)
The lightning forward built on a promising FIFA World Cup with Mexico with an eye-catching group stage, scoring against Spurs and Inter.

Forward: Jadon Sancho, 18 (Dortmund)
A revelation for Dortmund this season, the young England player had an especially standout display in the 3-0 home victory over Monaco.

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

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