Another fascinating round of Champions League fixtures saw several of Europe’s superpowers book their places in the knockout stages, with the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Juventus all securing progress to the last 16.
That trio will be joined by both Manchester City and Chelsea, whilst Sevilla made it six clubs to impressively secure qualification to the next round with two games to spare.
Elsewhere there were vital victories for the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United, though Liverpool suffered a setback as an understrength side were beaten comfortably by Atalanta at Anfield.
Once again we’ve picked out some of the best performers from this week’s round of fixtures, here is the Football Faithful’s Champions League Team of the Week:
Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich extended their phenomenal winning record in the Champions League to 15 games this week, the holder’s flawless run to success last season continuing with a perfect record after four group stage fixtures.
Hansi Flick’s side did not have it all their own way against an impressive Red Bull Salzburg, however, who have tested Bayern significantly during both fixtures with their illustrious German opposition.
Salzburg showed a willingness to attack the Bundesliga champions but found their efforts blocked by the imperious Manuel Neuer in goal, who incredibly made 10 saves to deny the visitors, the joint-most he has ever recorded in a Champions League fixture.
🧤 Manuel Neuer made 1⃣0⃣ saves in Bayern Munich's 3-1 win over Salzburg on Wednesday
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 26, 2020
That haul of stops included a fine double-save to deny Mergin Berisha and Enock Mwepu, with Bayern boss Flick admitting the goalkeeping great is ‘in the form of his life’ following another sensational performance.
Right-back: Juan Cuadrado – Juventus
Juventus left it late to snatch victory against Hungarian minnows Ferencvaros on Tuesday night, the Italian champions coming from behind to seal a win that books their place in the next round.
Ferencvaros had threatened an upset after taking the lead through Myrto Uzuni, though what had threatened to be a frustrating evening for the Bianconeri ended with victory courtesy of goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata.
Key to those goals was the contribution of right-back Juan Cuadrado who showcased his attacking quality throughout to provide both assists.
The Colombia international provided a constant outlet and first found Ronaldo in space to equalise, before a surging run and perfect delivery allowed Morata to head home the winner – remarkably Cuadrado’s fourth assist in four Champions League games this season.
Centre-back: Cristian Romero – Atalanta
Atalanta secured a famous European result after taking advantage of Liverpool’s depleted defence to earn three points at Anfield, a result which leaves the club in a strong position to secure a place in the knockout stages for a second successive season.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have won many admirers for their free-scoring and entertaining style, but this was a performance which showcased the Italians can grind out results when needed.
It was a huge improvement from the abject defensive display that saw them thrashed 5-0 by the Reds in the reverse fixture, with centre-back Cristian Romero central to their performance with an accomplished display.
The 22-year-old – signed on a two-year loan from Juventus during the summer – had little difficulty in repelling a lacklustre Liverpool attack, winning three aerial duels, making four interceptions and recording a huge 10 clearances.
Centre-back: Nico Elvedi – Borussia Monchengladbach
Borussia Monchengladbach have been amongst the most impressive teams in this season’s Champions League and currently sit top of a group containing both Real Madrid and Inter Milan, with the Bundesliga side thrashing Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night.
Monchengladbach had put six past the Ukrainian’s in the reverse fixture and capitalised on a shaky Shakhtar defence once more, winning 4-0 as their confidence continues to increase in this season’s competition.
Amongst their key performers was Nico Elvedi, the centre-back – who has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs – meeting Lars Stindl’s corner in fine fashion to power home a header for his first goal of the season.
Left-back: Oscar Wendt – Borussia Monchengladbach
The second Monchengladbach player to feature in our side, Oscar Wendt enjoyed a fine evening as the Germans continued their impressive run of form in the Champions League’s group stages.
Wendt has proven a superb servant for Monchengladbach and continues to impress despite celebrating his 35th birthday last month, a player who is fast approaching a decade with the club enjoying a strong showing against Shakhtar in midweek.
The former Sweden international managed a 100% success rate for aerial duels and won each of his four tackles, capping a an impressive display with a goal as his whipped free-kick fortuitously evaded everyone to find its way into the far corner.
Midfield: Mason Mount – Chelsea
Mason Mount remains a firm favourite of Frank Lampard despite a wealth of exciting additions arriving at Chelsea during the summer, with the midfielder’s contribution this week a key factor in the club sealing their place in the knockout stages with victory at Rennes.
Mount has thrived since being deployed deeper as part of the midfield three, his ability to break lines with both his movement and passing a fundamental part of Chelsea’s attacking play.
The England international was tidy in possession against Rennes and brought energy and tenacity to the side, the highlight of another excellent performance a wonderful assist to release Callum Hudson-Odoi for the game’s opening goal.
Mason Mount's game by numbers vs. Rennes:
100% shot accuracy
100% cross accuracy
100% take-ons completed
100% tackle success
2 chances created
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 24, 2020
Mount may have his detractors and has come in for some unfair criticism in recent months, but he is rapidly proving essential to Lampard’s ever-improving and new-look Blues.
Midfield: Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United
Just where would Manchester United be without the performances of Bruno Fernandes?
It’s a question that has been regularly asked on our columns since the midfielder’s arrival into the Premier League earlier this year, Fernandes once more the heartbeat of another victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on Tuesday night.
United thrashed Istanbul Basaksehir to avenge their humbling to the Turkish champions in the reverse fixture, a brilliant first-half performance lit up by the creative talents of Fernandes.
The Portugal international lashed home a spectacular half-volley to open the scoring, before finding himself in the right place at the right time to capitalise on a goalkeeping mistake and put the Red Devils in control.
It’s now a staggering 34 goal involvements in just 35 fixtures since his debut, whilst only three players – Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robin van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – have reached 20 goals for the club in quicker fashion since the turn of the century.
Right-wing: Jadon Sancho – Borussia Dortmund
Jadon Sancho has endured a slow start to the season in comparison to the extraordinary standards the Borussia Dortmund winger has set in recent seasons, with the summer transfer speculation linking him with a move to Manchester United suggested by some as a potential reason.
Sancho looked back to his best with a mesmerising display in Dortmund’s 3-0 win over Club Brugge this week, exerting his influence on the clash as the Bundesliga side took another step closer to the last 16.
It was an all-action performance from the England international who created four chances, attempted five crosses and took three shots on goal, including a sensational free-kick to double Dortmund’s advantage after earlier assisting Erling Haaland’s opener.
Stop that, Jadon!
Sancho puts a free-kick in the definition of top bins. You don't save those! 🎯 pic.twitter.com/oE8jCed884
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 24, 2020
Sancho was dangerous throughout as he pulled the strings for a vibrant and youthful Dortmund attack, his return to form a welcome boost for Lucien Favre who will hope the 20-year-old can inspire his side to success both at home and in Europe.
Left-wing: Papu Gomez – Atalanta
Atalanta’s creator-in-chief was once again hugely influential as his side secured a famous win at Liverpool, breathing new life into their Champions League campaign and bouncing back in style from their home humbling to the Premier League champions three weeks ago.
Gomez is amongst the classiest operators on the continent and was central to his side’s best moments, drifting into dangerous areas and shouldering responsibility for Atalanta’s attacking play.
It was an elegant display from the diminutive Argentine on the day when it was announced the world had lost legendary compatriot Diego Maradona, who would no doubt have looked on in admiration of the 32-year-old’s low centre of gravity and dribbling skills.
His cross for Josip Ilicic’s opener was perfect and provided the breakthrough for a result which catapulted Atalanta back into contention to reach the last 16.
Forward: Martin Braithwaite – Barcelona
Martin Braithwaite’s move to Barcelona earlier this year was widely ridiculed as amongst the most bizarre transfers of all-time, a player who had struggled to make an impression in the Championship becoming the Catalan’s new number nine.
For the most part, those jibes have been justified with the Denmark international having scored just once previously for the club in 17 outings, though he made the most of a rare opportunity with an impressive performance at Dynamo Kyiv this week.
Ronald Koeman opted to rotate his options for the trip to Ukraine and his second-string made no mistake in securing qualification to the knockout stages, securing a comfortable 4-0 victory with Braithwaite scoring twice.
The 29-year-old assisted the opening goal for Sergio Dest before turning home a poacher’s effort from close range, adding a second from the penalty spot in emphatic fashion to triple his personal tally for the Spanish giants.
Braithwaite may not be the most illustrious of number nines to have played at the Camp Nou, but provided a reminder of what he can contribute if handed a rare opportunity to impress.
Forward: Ciro Immobile – Lazio
Ciro Immobile’s goals helped fire Lazio back into the Champions League for the first time in more than a decade last season and the forward is undoubtedly the key to his side’s hopes of making an impression in the competition, returning following a two-game absence to fire the Italians to a 3-1 victory over Zenit St Petersburg.
The 30-year-old had scored during Lazio’s opening win over Borussia Dortmund before missing draws at both Club Brugge and Zenit after testing positive for coronavirus, though his return was welcomed as he hit a double to move the Rome outfit closer to the last 16.
What a hit from Ciro Immobile!
The goalkeeper could only stand and watch 🚀 pic.twitter.com/Uwrd3LIGtp
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 24, 2020
Immobile opened the scoring with a thumping effort from distance, before putting the gloss on an important victory with a clinical penalty – his seventh goal in just eight appearances in all competitions so far this season.
Winner of the European Golden Shoe last season, the Italy international has now scored a staggering 132 goals in just 186 appearances for Lazio and is just 17 short of becoming the club’s all-time record goalscorer – his talents deserving of the Champions League stage to where he has returned this season.