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

Champions League Team of the Week from the quarter-final first legs, following a round of European action packed full of glorious goals and drama.

Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich

As the goals flowed in in record-breaking fashion this week, great goalkeeping performances were in short supply. Manuel Neuer earns the nod in goal despite a relatively quiet night at the Emirates, where the German great could do nothing with either goal.

He made the saves expected of him when called upon and began the build-up to Bayern Munich’s second goal with this moment of supreme self-confidence. Neuer might be 38, but he remains one of a kind.

Right-back: Jules Kounde – Barcelona

Gave everything in his duel with Kylian Mbappe, restricting the Paris Saint-Germain superstar to a peripheral role in the clash. Kounde dominated against his international teammate, winning 9/12 defensive duels and racking up five clearances and three tackles.

His distribution was also good, completing 5/7 long balls forward and 89.7% of his passes overall. A solid night’s work for the Frenchman at full-back.

Centre-back: Antonio Rudiger – Real Madrid

Real Madrid might have conceded three goals, but Antonio Rudiger can be pleased with his night’s work. The German shackled Erling Haaland impressively at the Bernabeu with the Manchester City superstar barely in the game.

Rudiger’s uncompromising brand of defending ruffled the Norwegian and the big defender will be crucial to hopes of progress at the Etihad. Who partners him remains unclear, with Aurรฉlien Tchouameni out through suspension.

Centre-back: Ronald Araujo – Barcelona

A near-perfect performance from the Uruguayan who came to Barcelona’s rescue time and time again against a pacey Paris Saint-Germain forward line.

He made four clearances, was not beaten on the dribble, and completed several last-ditch challenges to frustrate the home side. His recovery run and challenge on Bradley Barcola saved a certain goal. No player has dribbled past Araujo in the Champions League this season.

Left-back: Josko Gvariol – Manchester City

Arguably his best performance since arriving at Manchester City from RB Leipzig last summer. Gvardiol has shown encouraging signs in recent weeks despite continuing to operate in a less favoured full-back role.

Against Real Madrid, he defended well with four tackles and three interceptions, while his first goal for the Citizens could hardly have been better. The Croatian stepped inside to unleash a rocket with his weaker right side, what a way to break his duck.

Midfield: Federico Valverde – Real Madrid

Covered every blade of grass, as ever, in a trademark all-action performance. His influence in games of this magnitude can not be underestimated as he runs opposition teams into unwanted avenues, while the Uruguayan picked the perfect time to score just his second of the season with the equaliser. That technique is something special.

Midfield: Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid

The creative hub of everything for Atletico Madrid as the Spanish side drew first blood in their quarter-final with Borussia Dortmund. The Frenchman is fantastic to watch in this mood and was involved in almost everything good from Diego Simeone’s side, including a superb scoop to set up Samuel Lino for the second goal in the 2-1 win.

He’s now been involved in seven goals in nine appearances in this season’s Champions League.

Right-wing: Leroy Sane – Bayern Munich

So, so good. Leroy Sane’s brilliance saw Jakub Kiwior withdrawn at half-time against Arsenal after a nightmare night up against the Bayern Munich winger. The German is direct, dangerous and an elite ball-carrier, capable of opening up games with his dribbling ability.

He tormented the Gunners across the opening exchanges at the Emirates and will be the man to stop in the return after several warning signs across the first leg. Mikel Arteta was right, the Bundesliga champions are far more than Harry Kane.

Left-wing: Raphinha – Barcelona

Delivered on the big stage to put Barcelona within touching distance of the Champions League semi-finals. Having tested Gianluigi Donnarumma with a low effort early on, the Brazilian opened the scoring at Paris Saint-Germain with an emphatic finish on his weaker side.

He added a second to equalise after PSG had turned the tie around, volleying home from Pedri’s wondrous pass with perfect technique. Are Barcelona really considering selling him this summer? That looks like a huge mistake on the evidence of his performance.

Forward: Gabriel Jesus – Arsenal

Gabriel Jesus might not be the prolific centre-forward Arsenal fans crave, but the Brazilian showed his value off the bench against Bayern Munich. His introduction immediately turned the game in Arsenal’s favour as he provided a mobile and energetic focal point for the side.

Jesus set up the crucial equaliser with some fine footwork inside the box, drawing in the Bayern Munich challenges before slipping a pass into Leandro Trossard. He did enough to state his case for a start in the return in Munich.

Forward: Harry Kane – Bayern Munich

Harry Kane came back to north London to haunt Arsenal once again, adding to his remarkable record against the Gunners.

Kane’s cool penalty put Bayern Munich 2-1 ahead as the England captain confidently converted from the spot for his 39th of the season in all competitions. Against the Premier League’s best defence, he more than held his own, occupying Gabriel and William Saliba all evening.

Bayern will be pleased to escape the Emirates level on terms, with the Germans perhaps slight favourites ahead of next week’s second leg.

Read –ย Five of the best games between Real Madrid and English clubs

See more –ย Iconic Performances: Neymar inspires ‘La Remontada’

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