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Five players who impressed in the Champions League this week

Following the latest round of UEFA Champions League last-16 action, we’ve selected five players who impressed in this week’s European ties.

Nicolo Barella – Inter Milan

Inter Milan are emerging as dark horses in this season’s Champions League, with last season’s runners-up impressing in Serie A.

The Nerazzurri took a step towards the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid at the San Siro, with Marko Arnautović coming off the bench to score the decisive goal.

Nicolo Barella was central to Inter’s performance as the Italians dominated the contest, producing one of his best European performances of the season.

Indefatigable in his work-rate, Barella made four tackles, won seven duels and made four key passes. Box-to-box influence from the Italy international.

Ronald Araujo – Barcelona

Excellent in his duel with Victor Osimhen, Araujo was heading towards a dominant defensive display at Napoli until an error from centre-back partner Inigo Martinez allowed the Nigerian in to equalise.

Some of Araujo’s long-range passing was superb, while he was commanding in his one-vs-one defending, winning 5/6 duels and making four clearances.

On his first-ever appearance in the Champions League’s knockout rounds, the 24-year-old was the standout for the Spanish side, providing Barcelona with a platform to reach the last eight.

Donyell Malen – Borussia Dortmund

Donyell Malen came back to haunt his former side after scoring for Borussia Dortmund against PSV Eindhoven.

The forward continued his hot-streak around goal with a fifth goal in five games for Dortmund, in the process becoming the first Dutchman to score against a Dutch side in the Champions League’s knockout rounds.

Malen’s finish was thumped in high from a narrowing angle and he refused to celebrate against the side where he came through the ranks and scored 40 times in 81 league games.

The 25-year-old was Dortmund’s liveliest option all evening, as he won 5/7 ground duels and completed 3/4 dribbles in the 1-1 draw, in addition to his goal.

Galeno – Porto

Galeno’s goal was the difference as Porto snatched a stoppage-time win against Arsenal at The Estádio do Dragão.

The Brazilian winger is having a breakthrough campaign in this competition after an excellent run of performances in the group stage, with his winner against the Gunners – bent beautifully into the far corner – his fifth goal in the Champions League this season. No player has scored more goals than the 26-year-old, who has also notched up three assists.

Though his overall impact on the game was limited as Arsenal dominated the ball, barring an amazing double chance spurned from close range, he provided the moment of magic to give Porto the advantage ahead of the return.

Pepe – Porto

What a player.

The veteran centre-back made history as the oldest outfield player to start a UEFA Champions League knockout game (40y 360d) and helped Porto preserve a clean sheet against Arsenal at The Estádio do Dragão.

Pepe won 5/7 duels as Porto stifled the Gunners in Portugal, with Arsenal failing to record a shot on target in the first leg, having been in free-scoring form domestically heading into the clash.

The centre-back’s experience, a three-time winner of the Champions League at Real Madrid, is invaluable to a Porto team looking to upset the odds this season. Incredibly, Pepe had played more games in this competition (118) than the entire Arsenal starting XI (104).

Read – Mbappe next? Five of the best Bosman transfers of all time

See more – Remembering Arsenal’s seven straight Champions League last-16 exits

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