Here is our Champions League team of the week for Matchday Four.
Goalkeeper: Andriy Lunin – Real Madrid
Andriy Lunin made his first start for Real Madrid since August and made an impression as the 14-time winners eased past Braga. The Ukraine international made four saves, including a penalty stop from Alvaro Djalo with the game goalless.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side went on to win 3-0 with Lunin’s spot-kick save important, as Los Blancos confirmed their place in the knockout rounds.
Right-back: Giorgi Gocholeishvili – Shakhtar Donetsk
Shakhtar Donetsk produced the shock of the round as the Ukrainian side beat Barcelona 1-0. The result denied the Spanish side a place in the knockout rounds and kept alive Shakhtar’s own hopes of reaching the last-16, with Marino Pušić’s side moving with three points of both Barcelona and Porto in the qualification places.
Giorgi Gocholeishvili impressed at both ends of the pitch, with the right-back making three tackles, two clearances and winning six defensive duels. The 22-year-old also supplied the cross for the decisive goal, headed home by Danylo Sikan.
Centre-back: Pepe – Porto
The UEFA Champions League’s first quadragenarian goalscorer, Pepe made history this week after firing home the second goal in Porto’s 2-0 win over Royal Antwerp. The three-time Champions League winner might be approaching his 41st birthday, but the Portuguese defender continues to thwart opposition forwards on club football’s biggest stage.
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) November 7, 2023
Pepe rose to power home a second goal in stoppage time for Porto, a record-breaking moment for the defender and one which took his side a step closer to the last 16.
Centre-back: Mats Hummels – Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund have turned things around in Group F, with back-to-back wins over Newcastle having put the German side top of a perfectly poised group. Consecutive clean sheets against the Premier League side have been the foundation for those much needed wins, with Mats Hummels a commanding figure in central defence.
Hummels won eight tackles, 9/11 duels and made four interceptions during Dortmund’s 2-0 win over the Magpies on Matchday Four.
Left-back: Aihen Munoz – Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad have been one of the most impressive teams in the competition so far and produced another first-class performance to beat Benfica 3-1 this week.
The Spanish side are set for the last 16 in the new year after a comfortable win over their Portuguese opponents, with left-back Aihen Munoz a standout. Munoz won seven duels, was not dribbled past in the contest, and provided the cross for Mikel Merino’s opener. A good night’s work for the 26-year-old.
Midfield: Mikel Merino – Real Sociedad
The aforementioned Sociedad have cruised into the knockout rounds with a place in the last 16 secured after beating Benfica. Mikel Merino put in a superb showing for the Spaniards, with the Reale Arena quite literally bouncing after the midfielder headed home the opener.
Merino had found a home in Sociedad after underwhelming spells at Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle, and was named in the La Liga Team of the Season in 2022/23. He added an assist against Benfica to cap what was a monstrous midfield performance, as the 27-year-old won 12 duels and made 12 ball recoveries.
Mikel Merino is the first player to win 10+ duels and make 10+ ball recoveries in multiple Champions League games this season:
◉ 13 duels won
◉ 10 ball recoveries
◉ 12 duels won
◉ 12 ball recoveries
And he got a goal and an assist this evening.… pic.twitter.com/BuY4I44wEs
— Squawka (@Squawka) November 8, 2023
Midfield: Ruben Loftus-Cheek – AC Milan
An outstanding performance from the Englishman in a must-win game for Milan, Loftus-Cheek was the driving force behind the Rossoneri’s 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain. The midfielder made a mistake for PSG’s opening goal as he lost Milan Skriniar inside the box, but bounced back with an impressive individual showing of ball-carrying excellence.
Loftus-Cheek led his teammates for distance carried, fouls won, duels won, and completed dribbles, with the 27-year-old and Rafael Leao causing countless problems with their drive in possession. More performances of this standard, on this stage, and Loftus-Cheek could re-enter Gareth Southgate’s thoughts.
1 – Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s ranking among Milan players in their game against Paris Saint-Germain:
262 metres of ball carry distance (1st)
183 metres of ball carry progress (1st)
3 fouls won (1st)
10 duels won (T-1st)
5 dribbles completed (T-1st)
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 8, 2023
Midfield: Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid moved to the top of Group E after embarrassing Celtic 6-0 this week, with the Spaniards taking advantage of Daizen Maeda’s early red card to humiliate Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Antoine Griezmann scored twice for Atleti, as the Frenchman continued the sublime form he has shown since returning to the Spanish capital from Barcelona. Arguably La Liga’s standout player last season, Griezmann has picked up where he left off with 11 goals in 15 starts across league and Champions League this season.
The 32-year-old operated in a more withdrawn role against Celtic, but was no less effective. He opened the scoring inside six minutes from the edge of the area, before acrobatically scoring a sublime second as Atletico ran riot after the break.
Right-wing: Bukayo Saka – Arsenal
Bukayo Saka was born for the big stage. The Arsenal winger is certainly enjoying his first experience of the Champions League and moved the north Londoners a step closer to the knockout rounds against Sevilla.
Saka raced away to square for Leandro Trossard for the opening goal at the Emirates, before turning from provider to goalscorer for the second. Gabriel Martinelli released the England winger in behind, who checked inside before firing home a confident finish into the far corner.
1+1 – Bukayo Saka is the first @Arsenal player to score and assist in consecutive home games in the UEFA Champions League since Cesc Fàbregas against Sevilla and Slavia Prague in 2007-08. Heart. pic.twitter.com/fvdxGkicR8
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 8, 2023
Back to his best.
Left-wing: Samuel Lino – Atletico Madrid
Samuel Lino made his mark off the bench during Atletico’s 6-0 thrashing of Celtic. The 23-year-old scored a spectacular fourth goal for the Spaniards after bending an effort into the far corner, before turning provider to set up goals for Alvaro Morata and Saul Niguez.
Lino has struggled for a regular role in Diego Simeone’s plans this season, but is fast emerging as a fine option from the bench. The Brazilian has averaged a goal or assist every 90 minutes in all competitions this season (6 G/As).
Forward: Alvaro Morata – Atletico Madrid
Alvaro Morata might just be enjoying the best period of his career right now.
Despite winning four league titles and two Champions League trophies, and sitting fifth among Spain’s all-time record scorers, Morata has been viewed as one of the sport’s nearly mean.
The Spanish striker has rarely settled in one place, racking up huge cumulative transfer fees and representing some of Europe’s elite, without ever reaching world-class levels. This season, however, there is an argument that Morata is among the best out-and-out forwards on the continent.
10 – @atletienglish are the only team in the Top-5 European Leagues with two different players who have scored 10+ goals this season in all competitions – Alvaro Morata (12) and Antoine Griezmann (11). Duo. pic.twitter.com/Akl7aQHsiG
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 8, 2023
The 31-year-old has scored 12 goals in 14 appearances in all competitions and is the Champions League’s joint-leading scorer after a brace against Celtic. Having turned in a predatory first from close range, he smashed home a second past Joe Hart as Atletico racked up a big win at the Metropolitano Stadium.
A player who has often been criticised for lacking a killer instinct is now over-performing in terms of expected goals. His brace against Celtic came from an xG figure of just 0.77.