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Champions League Team of the Week – Semi-final first legs

The semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League arrived this week with thrilling action in each of the last four ties.

Real Madrid and Manchester City will rematch next week with the honours even after an enthralling encounter in the Spanish capital, one which saw two big names produce moments of magic.

In the other tie, it’s advantage Inter Milan, who blew away AC Milan early on to take a significant semi-final lead in the Derby della Madonnina.

Following this week’s semi-final action, we’ve selected our Champions League Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper: Andre Onana – Inter Milan

Andre Onana might have been a spectator for much of the game against AC Milan, but the goalkeeper’s oozing of calm provides Inter Milan with an outlet they can trust.

Only Alessandro Bastoni had more touches of the ball than Onana, whose ability to take possession and distribute efficiently is a key part of Inter Milan retaining the ball and building from the back.

Onana’s clean sheet was his seventh of the Champions League season, a record for an Inter goalkeeper in the competition and a leading total in the tournament this season.

Right-back: Kyle Walker – Manchester City

Walker endured difficult moments up against Vinicius Junior (who doesn’t?) but competed well as Manchester City drew 1-1 at Real Madrid.

Containing the Brazilian is one of the toughest challenges in modern football and already this season we’ve seen the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James struggle to deal with the forward’s threat.

Walker’s recovery pace posed a challenge for the explosive speed of Vinicius and he made some crucial late blocks as City came under pressure in the closing stages. Walker and Vinicius were full of respect for one another at full-time, following a battle at the Bernabeu played at full tilt.

Centre-back: Antonio Rudiger – Real Madrid

Antonio Rudiger impressed in marshalling the threat of Erling Haaland this week, with the Real Madrid defender restricting the impact of Europe’s leading scorer.

Haaland had scored 12 goals in eight Champions League appearances before Manchester City’s trip to the Bernabeu, but was given few sights of goal as Rudiger replaced the suspended Eder Militao with a determined defensive performance.

Haaland had just 21 touches – less than goalkeepers Thibaut Courtois (43) and Ederson (29) – in an indication of Rudiger’s effectiveness.

Centre-back: Alessandro Bastoni – Inter Milan

Inter Milan have one foot in the final after a 2-0 win at AC Milan, with the Nerazzurri stunning their city rivals with two goals inside the opening 11 minutes.

It was all Inter for much of the game and Alessandro Bastoni was a standout for Simeone Inzaghi’s side. The centre-back won five ground duels, completed 10 long passes and made three clearances, while his confidence in carrying the ball often acts as an additional midfielder as Inter look to create overloads.

He could, and perhaps should, have had an assist after confidently striding through the Milan defence to tee up Edin Dzeko. With defenders comfortable in stepping forward all the rage at the moment, few do it better than Bastoni.

Left-back: Eduardo Camavinga – Real Madrid

What a talent.

Eduardo Camavinga was excellent during Real Madrid’s run to Champions League success last season and the youngster produced another mature performance on Europe’s biggest stage this week.

The Frenchman was excellent defensively in an unnatural left-back position and set up Vinicius Junior’s goal with a surging solo run from deep inside his own half. He will have been disappointed to concede possession in the build up to Manchester City’s equaliser, but that was perhaps the only blemish on a fine night for the 20-year-old. He can be relied upon on the biggest stages.

Midfield: Nicolo Barella – Inter Milan

Barella was at the centre of the action as Inter Milan secured an important first-leg win, with the midfielder involved in his side’s best attacks and consistently putting in the hard yards defensively.

He could have had an assist with a wonderful pass inside the opening quarter of an hour, before ensuring Inter saw out the result with all-action industry and diligent defensive work. The heartbeat of Simeone Inzaghi’s side.

Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

De Bruyne was unable to impact the game as much as he would have liked at Real Madrid, but came up when it mattered most for Manchester City.

The big players often have a habit of producing moments in times of need and De Bruyne’s brilliant goal levelled the game just when City were coming under significant pressure. The technique was something special, as the Belgian drilled a finish past compatriot Thibaut Courtois.

City were far from their best at the Bernabeu, but will start as favourites in the second leg after a hard-fought draw in Spain. De Bruyne’s moment of magic ensured that.

Midfield: Hakan Calhanoglu – Inter Milan

Involved in much of Inter’s best football against his former side, the midfielder orchestrated proceedings as the Nerazzurri took a giant step towards a first final since 2010.

The Turkey international created the opening goal with a fine delivery in for Edin Dzeko and came close to scoring himself after hitting the post with a spectacular strike at 2-0. Calhanoglu controlled proceedings against his old teammates, with Inter a cut above Milan on the night.

Right-wing: Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Inter Milan

Henrikh Mkhitaryan turned back the clock with an excellent performance in Inter’s 2-0 win over Milan at the San Siro.

The midfielder’s off-the-ball movement caused constant problems for the home side and he was rewarded with the second goal as he darted into the box to fire past Mike Maignan.

It was a vital moment from the Armenian and an example of the ghosting runs that defined Mkhitaryan’s emergence at Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund. He worked tirelessly off the ball and, even at 34, has been a shrewd signing on a free transfer from Roma last summer.

Left-wing: Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s excitement machine made another major contribution on the Champions League stage, showcasing another string to his bow with a thunderous opener against Manchester City.

Time and time again Vinicius has delivered on the big stage for Real Madrid across the past two seasons and no player has been involved in more goals (13) than the Brazilian in the competition this season.

City rarely looked comfortable in attempting to deal with the 22-year-old’s threat from the left and stopping him in the return will be key to their chances of reaching the final. The best player in world football right now? He’s certainly in the conversation.

Forward: Edin Dzeko – Inter Milan

Edin Dzeko continues to age like a fine wine and opened the scoring in Inter Milan’s win over AC Milan with an instinctive finish inside eight minutes.

Dzeko struck a sweet opener after meeting Hakan Calhanoglu’s corner on the volley for his 14th goal of the season in all competitions.

It was a brilliant moment for the Bosnian, who led the line excellently. Even at 37, Dzeko – as he has done wherever he has played – continues to make vital goalscoring contributions. Among the most under-appreciated goalscorers of his generation.

Read – Six of the best bargains from the Premier League season

Read Also – Ranking the five best centre-backs in world football right now

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