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Champions League Team of the Week – Matchday 5

There’s just one round of fixtures remaining in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage, following a fascinating Matchday 5.

Liverpool and Chelsea joined Manchester City in booking their passage to the knockout rounds, though Spurs will need a result in Marseille after late VAR drama in north London.

Barcelona and Juventus became the highest-profile casualties of the competition to date after elimination, with the likes of Atletico Madrid and Ajax among the teams headed out.

Once again we’ve delved through the midweek action to compile our Champions League Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper: Diogo Costa – Porto

Porto produced an impressive performance to thrash group leaders Club Brugge 4-0 and secure their place in the knockout rounds. The Portuguese side had been on the receiving end of a humiliating defeat to Brugge in the first meeting between the sides, but responded with a convincing win of their own this time around.

Diogo Costa’s heroics were again at the centre of Porto’s success, as the goalkeeper twice saved a re-taken penalty to preserve his side’s one-goal lead. Having already saved from the spot during home and away wins against Bayer Leverkusen, Costa has now incredibly saved three penalties in this season’s group stage.

It is the most a goalkeeper has recorded in a single UEFA Champions League campaign since the data was first collected in 2003/04.

Right-back: Gonzalo Montiel – Sevilla

Sevilla guaranteed a place in the Europa League after easing to a 3-0 win over Copenhagen, as two late goals secured the Spaniards a comfortable result.

Gonzalo Montiel impressed at right-back for the Andalusians, in a performance that caught the eye at both ends of the pitch. The 25-year-old made eight recoveries, completed 100% of his attempted dribbles and created two chances with raids down the right.

Montiel – who will form part of Argentina’s challenge at the World Cup which begins next month – sealed the win after reacting to a spilled shot to turn in Sevilla’s third goal.

Centre-back: Joško Gvardiol – RB Leipzig

Gvardiol’s reputation keeps on growing and the defender produced a huge performance as RB Leipzig beat holders Real Madrid.

Leipzig now need just a point at Shakhtar to progress next week, following an upset of the Spanish giants in Germany. Gvardiol set his side on the way to a memorable win with the opening goal, as the defender remained alert in the box to turn home a loose ball.

The 20-year-old was dominant at the opposite end to keep Vinicius Junior in check, as he won three tackles, made two interceptions, and recorded a 95% pass accuracy which included 6/7 long balls forward. There’s good reason Europe’s elite are tracking the Croatian’s progress.

Centre-back: Alessandro Bastoni – Inter Milan

Inter Milan ensured their place in the last 16 with a 4-0 thrashing of Viktoria Plzen at the San Siro. It was a confident performance from the Italians who made light work of the Czech champions, with Alessandro Bastoni producing a masterclass in progressive football from centre-back.

Bastoni recorded a 94% pass accuracy and provided regular threat when raiding forward as an underlapping centre-back, including for the first goal as he exchanged a one-two with Federico Dimarco before crossing to assist Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s headed opener.

It was a performance of creative class and elegance in possession from Bastoni, who also led the game for tackles (3) and made six ball recoveries.

Left-back: Andy Robertson – Liverpool

The Scotland international was back to his best as Liverpool won at Ajax, in a performance full of attacking endeavour from left-back.

Robertson ensured little got down his flank during Liverpool’s 3-0 win over the Dutch champions and offered a consistent forward threat with four completed crosses and five chances created. He burst into the box and struck into the side netting during the first half, before his corner delivery was headed home by Darwin Nunez to double the Reds’ advantage.

The 28-year-old – like many of his teammates – has been below his usual standard this season, but this was an encouraging showing full of the thrust and energy that has become his trademark.

Midfield: Sandro Tonali – AC Milan

Sandro Tonali orchestrated proceedings as AC Milan thrashed Dinamo Zagreb 4-0, a result which sets up a winner-takes-all showdown with Red Bull Salzburg for qualification next week.

The midfielder created the opening goal with a wonderful delivery for Matteo Gabbia and his set-piece excellence was evident all evening. The 22-year-old created a huge seven chances for the Rossoneri and won a second half penalty – converted by Olivier Giroud – as the Italians cruised to three points in Croatia.

Midfield: Rafa Silva – Benfica

Benfica have impressed in this season’s competition and dumped Juventus out following a thrilling 4-3 win in Lisbon this week.

The Portuguese side are undefeated in all competitions this season and cut apart Juventus with ease before the late threat of a fightback from the Italians, with Rafa Silva in the goals with a brilliant brace.

The midfielder flicked home an audacious first after meeting Joao Mario’s cross at the near post, before bursting into the box to lift a delicate finish over Wojciech Szczęsny. Unbeaten in four meetings with PSG and Juventus in this season’s group stage, Benfica are level on points with the former and have a chance to top the group ahead of the final round of fixtures.

Right-wing: Lionel Messi – Paris Saint-Germain

Lionel Messi inspired a rampant PSG performance as the French champions struck seven times to thrash Maccabi Haifa and reach the knockout rounds.

The Argentine genius produced arguably his best Champions League performance for the club with a mesmerising display of quality in the final third. Messi opened the scoring with an exquisite outside-of-the-boot finish, with PSG’s finishing outstanding in a 7-2 win over the Israeli side.

He added a second goal with a crisp effort from the edge of the area and was inches from a hat-trick after hitting the bar, while he also claimed two assists in the rout with one for Neymar and another for Carlos Soler late on.

Messi is the first footballer to record 10+ goals and 10+ assists in all competitions across Europe’s top five leagues this season, with performances of this calibre raising Champions League optimism in Paris.

Left-wing: Serge Gnabry – Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich continued their dominance over Barcelona with a convincing win in Catalonia, a result which extended the perfect record of the Bundesliga champions in this season’s Champions League to date.

Serge Gnabry was the architect of the 3-0 win, as he claimed a hat-trick of assists in a ruthless performance from the visitors. The Germany international carved open the Barcelona defence with a splitting pass to release Sadio Mane for the opener, before sliding in Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for the second.

He claimed a third assist after his mishit shot found Benjamin Pavard at the back post and also had a goal chalked off by VAR, on an evening where he caused countless problems for an already eliminated Barcelona side.

Forward: Kylian Mbappe – Paris Saint-Germain

Involved in almost everything as Paris Saint-Germain won 7-2 at Maccabi Haifa, the off-the-pitch distractions regarding his future appear to have had little impact on his game.

Mbappe teed up Messi for the opening goal before getting on the scoresheet himself in sublime fashion, bending two unstoppable finishes into the far corner for a spectacular brace.

There will be tougher tests in the knockout rounds, but PSG’s superstar trio are showing encouraging signs with their football fluid and dangerous so far this season. It’s now six goals in the group stage for Mbappe, with no player having scored more.

Forward: Giovanni Simeone – Napoli

Napoli made it five wins from five as the club’s canter through the group stage continued, proving too strong for Rangers in a 3-0 win at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

The club’s forward talent has shared the headlines so far this season and it was the turn of Giovanni Simeone to take centre stage this time around. El Cholito struck a brace to make it four goals in just two Champions League starts this season.

Simeone opened the scoring after rifling home from Giovani Di Lorenzo’s pass, before ghosting in to head home a second as Napoli’s quality took the game away from the Scottish side.

Napoli will be a team to avoid in the next round, having become the first Italian team to score 20+ goals in a Champions League group stage campaign.

Read – Noughties Nines: Carlos Tevez – El Apache

Read Also – Golazo Merchants: Arsenal’s non-flying Dutchman, Dennis Bergkamp

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