Madrid, May 30: Supporting cast members played essential roles as Liverpool and Tottenham mounted incredible comebacks to reach the Champions League final and now the time has come for the stars to shine.
Divock Origi helped to bury Barcelona, Lucas Moura left Ajax in ruins and yet neither semi-final hero has been able to squeeze into our combined XI of the individuals aiming to snatch the headlines this Saturday.
Harry Kane, an increasingly strong chance to feature at the Wanda Metropolitano, also sits out on this occasion with Opta data employed to aid the tough calls in areas of extreme depth.
Extra attention has been paid to performances in Europe and led to the creation of a high-performing team blessed with top talent from back to front.
Liverpool would not have made it out of their group were it not for Alisson, who produced a superb save to preserve a slender one-goal lead in the closing stages against Napoli in December.
In that moment, the Brazil international – who finished the Premier League season with the Golden Glove having kept the most clean sheets – showed the value of spending big on a position of need.
Liverpool's right-back gets the nod ahead of fellow England international Kieran Trippier. The Tottenham defender was superb for England at the 2018 World Cup but has not hit those same heights this season for his club and was left out of Gareth Southgate's squad for the Nations League Finals.
Alexander-Arnold has had his difficult moments too, and Jurgen Klopp opted to pick Joe Gomez ahead of him for the first leg of the semi-final against Barca. However, the 20-year-old is a key outlet for the Reds in attack, giving him the nod over his compatriot in this XI.
Virgil van Dijk
Can £75million be considered a bargain? When Liverpool agreed to stump up a record fee for a defender to get Van Dijk from Southampton, some questioned the figure for a player whose only previous Champions League experience had come at Celtic.
The Dutchman has turned out to be worth every last penny, becoming a colossal figure at the heart of Liverpool's defence despite a shuffling of the deck next to him due to injuries.
Vertonghen has been through the wars in this season's Champions League. The Belgian suffered a head injury in the first meeting with Ajax, leading to him being helped off the field before half-time, then played through the pain of an ankle injury as Spurs sealed a stunning comeback in stoppage time of the return fixture.
He made six more interceptions than team-mate Toby Alderweireld in two fewer appearances and shone in the efficient last-16 triumph over Borussia Dortmund, scoring one and creating another of the three first-leg goals.
Completing an all-Liverpool full-back pairing, Robertson makes the line-up after underlying his qualities in another superb campaign. His raids down the left caused Sergi Roberto all sorts of problems in the first leg against Barcelona, even if the Spanish side did come out on top.
Playing against Real Madrid a year ago in Kiev capped a remarkable debut season for Robertson on Merseyside. Now, 12 months on, he has established himself as one of the best full-backs in Europe.
Klopp might find players knocking on his door more often after captain Henderson's request for fewer defensive responsibilities led to the rebirth of a high-energy, creative influence at the heart of a midfield that, in modern parlance, needed verticality.
An outstanding display in the quarter-final victory against Porto at Anfield in April heralded a box-to-box role as Henderson's best and, with a high tackle success rate of 81.25 per cent, Liverpool have lost none of the England international's combativeness.
From transfer flop to cream of the crop – the 2018-19 season has seen quite a turnaround for Sissoko, a midfielder with endless energy but who has also demonstrated his technical abilities, too.
Lucas' star turn at the Johan Cruijff ArenA could not have occurred without Sissoko harrying every Ajax player in sight and it is his superior passing and tackling numbers to James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum that are enough for a place in this three-man engine room.
Kane's irregular availability through injury left others at Tottenham to pick up the slack in attack and Eriksen took the initiative, the Dane scoring twice and assisting four in the run to the final.
The 27 chances he created in 11 appearances account for more than Henderson and Roberto Firmino combined and proved the rumoured Real Madrid target as a player belonging to Europe's top bracket.
Patrolling the right flank is the dependable, incisive and indefatigable Mane, who has appeared in each of the Reds' 12 outings in Europe this term and been an inspirational figure.
In surely the best of his three seasons since arriving from Southampton, the unselfish Senegal winger has been responsible for creating 16 chances in the Champions League, more than each of the attackers angling for a place in this side's front three.
England captain Kane's return to fitness presents something of a selection quandary for Mauricio Pochettino that seemed unthinkable until Son began tearing holes through opposition defences both domestically and on the continent.
In the South Korea star, the Spurs boss has an intelligent, agile forward who seems to relish playing centrally and supplies key goals in big games. His first in the quarter-finals against Manchester City tipped the balance in Tottenham's favour; the next two helped to torpedo the Premier League champions.
Substituted in tears after damaging his shoulder in a tangle with Sergio Ramos this time last year, the stage is now set for Salah to enjoy a more fitting finale to another fine campaign.
The brilliant Egypt forward's four Champions League goals this time around included the crucial winner against Napoli that propelled Liverpool into the knockout rounds, and he will hope another can overwrite the images of his agony in the 2018 defeat to Madrid.