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Champions League Team of the Week

We’re now halfway through the Champions League round of 16, with another fascinating week of European action delivering a historic victory for Manchester City and a humbling home defeat for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.

Following the latest enthralling action, we’ve decided to compile our dream XI of players to have shone amongst Europe’s elite during this week’s fixtures.

Goalkeeper: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – Barcelona

Barcelona‘s bid to banish their demons of previous seasons were tested during a hostile away leg at Napoli, the Spanish giants returning to Catalonia with a 1-1 draw ahead of the return fixture against the Serie A side.

Quique Setién’s side had Germany international Ter Stegen to thank for keeping them in the contest, the 27-year-old standing tall when called upon and making several saves including an excellent stop one-v-one to deny Jose Callejon.

His distribution was typically elite, and his saves could be the difference in Barca’s bid to reach the last eight.

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Right-back: Kyle Walker – Manchester City

Walker may have been guilty of failing to clear his lines ahead of Real Madrid’s opening goal, but the England full-back played an important role as Man City dealt with the main threats of their Spanish opposition.

Teenage talent Vinicius Junior would prove the brightest spark for Zinedine Zidane’s side, though Walker dealt with the precocious youngster admirably with a typically energetic and competitive display.

His recovery pace is often essential – both to himself and his side.

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Centre-back: Fernandinho – Manchester City

Surprisingly left out of the starting side, Fernandinho was introduced as an early substitute following an injury to Aymeric Laporte. The Brazilian international’s experience and composure proved vital in the cauldron that is the Bernabeu, helping City to seal arguably their greatest ever European result in the Spanish capital.

Guardiola’s side became just the third English side to win away at Real Madrid, with the 34-year-old making two excellent blocks in the second half, one in particular denying Sergio Ramos with the goal at his mercy.

Centre-back: Marcelo – Lyon

Lyon defeated Italian champions Juventus for the first time in their history in arguably the shock result of the round, Lucas Tousart’s goal giving the French side a one-goal advantage ahead of the return fixture in Turin.

The Ligue 1 side’s compact defence helped nullify the in-form Cristiano Ronaldo and prevent Juve from scoring a potentially vital away goal, with Marcelo at the heart of it alongside defensive partners Jason Denayer and Fernando Marcal.

The veteran Brazilian helped prevent the visitors from having a single shot on target, making nine clearances on the night, and leaving Juventus with it all to do in the second leg if they are to progress to the latter stages.

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Left-back: Alphonso Davies – Bayern Munich

Simply scintillating.

Premier League fans unfamiliar with the talents of Bayern’s teenage star will now be well aware of Alphonso Davies, the left-back having starred as the Bundesliga champions dismantled Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Davies’ electric pace and thrust was evident from the early stages, providing a constant outlet and using his speed to recover whenever Chelsea threatened. Also provided an assist for Robert Lewandowski to score the Bavarian side’s third as Bayern firmly planted one foot in the last eight.

Midfield: Thiago – Bayern Munich

Is Thiago one of the most underrated midfielders in world football?

The Bayern Munich star has long been lauded as a top talent, the Italian-born Spaniard of Brazilian heritage a wonderful blend of unique footballing cultures with an elegance few in the game can match.

That said, for all his admirers he is perhaps rarely spoken of in the elite band of midfielders, though few can live with the midfield metronome when he is at is conductorial best.

Chelsea’s midfield could not cope with the diminutive Spaniard, who rarely even seemed to get out of second gear.

Midfield: Fabian Ruiz – Napoli

The most Barcelona-esque midfielder on show at the San Paolo Stadium was in fact wearing the colours of Napoli, Fabian Ruiz producing a display which gave credit to those backing him for a big-money move away from Naples.

The Spaniard has won many admirers for his performances since moving to Italian football and was instrumental during Napoli’s 1-1 draw with the five-time winners, working tirelessly out of possession and bringing a touch of class with it.

Ruiz’s performance will not have gone unnoticed by Barcelona, the Catalans amongst a group of clubs including the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid reportedly monitoring his progress.

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Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

Captain on the night and delivering a performance fitting of the armband, De Bruyne would drive Manchester City towards their 2-1 victory at Real Madrid, thriving in an unorthodox role as a central attacking option.

Would provide the assist for Gabriel Jesus’ equaliser, before taking responsibility from the spot to fire the winner to seal a memorable European victory for the Manchester side.

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Right-wing: Serge Gnabry – Bayern Munich

Serge Gnabry just loves playing in London, doesn’t he?

The winger may have struggled to make much of an impression after coming through the ranks at Arsenal, but a return to his homeland has seen the 24-year-old flourish into a formidable attacking threat.

Gnabry would begin on the left-wing before switching to the right, joining up with Robert Lewandowski in attack and scoring twice to put Bayern firmly in control of their last-16 meeting with Chelsea.

It’s now six goals in two visit to England’s capital this season for Gnabry, the winger having scored four times during Bayern’s 7-2 thrashing of Tottenham earlier in the campaign.

Left-wing: Gabriel Jesus – Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne admitted after City’s huge win in Madrid that even the players are sometimes surprised by Pep Guardiola’s tactical tweaks, but Jesus would make a mockery of those questioning the Spaniard’s placing of the forward on the left-hand side of a midfield four.

The Brazilian international worked tirelessly in and out of possession, filling in as an auxiliary left-back on occasion before popping up in the Madrid penalty to head home a vital equaliser for his side.

It was a selfless display from the 22-year-old who gave Sergio Ramos a torrid time, and a huge statement to his often vocal critics.

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Forward: Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich

The leading scorer in the Champions League this season, there are few – if any – players in world football currently matching the standards set by Robert Lewandowski.

Bayern Munich’s goal-machine showcased his creative side in the destruction of Chelsea, twice unselfishly setting up Serge Gnabry before tapping home his side’s third in typically predatory fashion.

It’s now 40 goals in all competitions for the Polish international this season, who has made no secret of his desire to win the Champions League for the first time in his illustrious career.

If Bayern’s performance at Stamford Bridge was an audition for the role of European champions, the German giants are certainly contenders.

Read – Ferdinand names his ‘standout favourites’ to win Champions League

See also – The longest unbeaten home runs in Champions League history