We’ve picked the best XI from matchday 2 of the Champions League group stages, putting together a team of the week from the competition’s most impressive performers.
Andriy Pyatov – Shakhtar Donetsk
The 35-year-old goalkeeper may not have kept a clean sheet against Atalanta, but his superb work in goal kept his team in the game long enough to snatch a last second winner.
Pyatov’s biggest save of the night came in the 15th minute when he stopped Josip Ilicic’s penalty to keep the game scoreless. That was ultimately the difference as Shakhtar Donetsk won the game 2-1.
Nemanja Milunovic – Red Star Belgrade
The Serbian outfit completed a comeback in the final minutes of their contest with Olympiakos to win 3-1, with an 87th minute goal from Nemanja Milunovic giving them the lead.
The Greek giants took 11 shots, but were restricted to long range efforts from outside the box by the Red Star defence, who allowed the visitors just one big chance all night. Just to illustrate the point, the 30-year-old defender’s positional sense meant he was only forced to make one tackle in the game, and also won five aerial duels.
Nicolas Otamendi – Man City
A calm and assured performance is a rare thing from Nicolas Otamendi, but Pep Guardiola will welcome it with open arms after the capitulation against Norwich City in the Premier League last month.
The Manchester City defence on this occasion only allowed Dinamo Zagreb two shots, while the Argentine centre-back won four aerial duels, and made three successful tackles, three interceptions and three clearances. He also had the second best pass completion rate (93.3%) of all starters behind Ilkay Gundogan (95%).
Juan Cuadrado – Juventus
Such is the volume of options Juventus have in midfield that Juan Cuadrado is having to settle for a place at right-back, but there are benefits to having the Colombian essentially perform the duties of a playmaker at full-back.
The most obvious one was the floater he sent to Gonzalo Higuain, taking out the entire Bayer Leverkusen defence to find the striker in a perfect position for the opening goal.
Marcos Alonso – Chelsea
Relief for Chelsea and their manager Frank Lampard as the Blues got their first Champions League win of the season after beating Lille 2-1 away from home.
The South West London outfit have been energised by their talented youngsters in the early stages of the campaign, but it doesn’t hurt to have the experienced head of a player like Marcos Alonso on your side.
The Spaniard was playing in the familiar role of wing-back on Wednesday, but it was his defensive contributions that stood out more than his attacking ones. The 28-year-old made one tackle, one interception and three clearances, but the standout statistic was that he won an incredible nine aerial duels. That was more than twice as many as anyone else on the pitch.
Lionel Messi – Barcelona
Make no bones about it: this Barcelona team would be lost without Lionel Messi. They have plenty of talented and quality players, but without their little magician, they wouldn’t create nearly as many chances. That’s what you expect from having the G.O.A.T on your side, but the rest need to start pulling their weight, otherwise this could have easily been a poor home result.
The Argentine was the only one making any kind of incisive passes in the final third, creating six chances against Inter Milan, more than anyone on the pitch. For the winning goal, Messi received the ball on the right-hand side, glided past Kwadwo Asamoah, dragged the ball back behind Marcelo Brozovic, before laying it on for Luis Suarez’s second.
Messi also completed 10 dribbles against Inter, the most any player has completed in a single game in this year’s Champions League, although his failure to get on the scoresheet means he has now gone eight matches without a goal – his longest drought in over a decade.
Thomas Partey – Atletico Madrid
The Ghana international has quietly become a key player in this Atletico Madrid team over the past few years, and put in another solid performance mid-week.
Partey was brilliant on both sides of the ball, taking four shots and creating three chances, while also making four tackles and two interceptions. And just for good measure, he scored the second goal to complete a 2-0 victory over Lokomotiv Moscow in the Russian capital.
Hwang Hee-chan – RB Salzburg
Mo Salah put in a typically brilliant performance on Wednesday evening, but he misses out to the really impressive Hee-Chan Hwang, who retains his place in the team for a second successive week.
The Korean attacker deserves his spot purely for turning Virgil van Dijk inside out, sitting down the World’s Best Defender™ before sending the ball into the far corner with a terrific finish.
Hwang was a terror for Trent Alexander-Arnold down the left-hand side, providing a pinpoint cross for Takumi Minamino’s goal, which puts him joint top of the assists chart in this year’s competition with three. Salzburg ultimately lost 4-3 on the night, but they gave Liverpool an almighty scare with a terrific second-half performance.
Serge Gnabry – Bayern Munich
When someone scores four goals, there’s not much else to say about a performance like that, is there? But Serge Gnabry was bloody brilliant against Spurs on Tuesday night and we should be talking about why.
First off, his shooting was off the charts, scoring four times from just five shots, and none of them were what you might call ‘gimmes’. His all-round play was also great though, completing three dribbles and contributing on the defensive side of the ball by making four tackles, all of which were deep in his own half of the pitch.
Serge Gnabry Vs Tottenhamhttps://t.co/BX6f9zCz2g
— BNS Comps (@BnsComps) October 1, 2019
French newspaper l’Equipe, known for their extremely harsh player ratings, have only given out 11 ten out of ten ratings ever. Three of them have come this year, one of which for Gnabry’s performance against Spurs.
Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich
As clinical as ever, the Polish forward’s incision was the difference between Tottenham Hotspur and Bayern Munich at the end of the first half.
Lewandowski’s first goal just before the interval came from a quick swivel, snapping the shot without even looking for the net, giving Hugo Lloris no chance at stopping it from going in.
Woke up thinking about that Lewandowski flickhttps://t.co/LekIL7BX7n
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) October 2, 2019
The Munich man got a second before the night was out, but he was also heavily involved in build-up play, selflessly passing the ball off when someone else was in a better position and generally just roasting the Spurs’ defenders at every opportunity.
Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis – Genk
An accidentally brilliant piece of skill gave Genk a surprise lead against Real Madrid, as Dennis took a slightly heavy touch with his right foot onto his left which caught himself and Thibaut Courtois out at the same time.
The Nigerian striker then scored the second after dispossessing Luka Modric, running towards goal before stumbling almost Harry Kane-style, but still got a shot off to chip the goalkeeper. He almost got a third in the second half which would have surely secured all three points, but on this occasion his footwork and balance were perfect and his shot was saved.
Dennis celebrated his brace by performing the trademark Cristiano Ronaldo celebration in front of the home crowd. He explained why afterwards: “I was sad when (Ronaldo) left Madrid and I celebrated my goals like that to show them that they lost something.”
Uefa Champions League Team of the Week for Matchday 2: