Uefa Champions League Team of the Week
An enthralling batch of Champions League quarter-finals have now come to a close, with some of Europe’s brightest talents now ready to showcase their skills in the final four while others have bowed out with their heads held high.
Chelsea were given a scare in the dying embers of their clash with Porto when Mehdi Taremi struck a sensational overhead kick in the fourth minute of injury time, but first-leg goals from Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount saw the Blues progress 2-1 on aggregate.
Last year’s beaten finalists Paris Saint-Germain endured also endured a nervy evening when former striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting bundled home in the first half, but Les Parisiens’ goal-laden performance at the Allianz Arena saw them dump the reigning champions out of the competition.
Liverpool created chance after chance as they attempted to break down Real Madrid’s stubborn defence, but the 2019 champions ultimately crashed out after a goalless draw on the night and a 3-1 aggregate defeat to Los Blancos.
Finally, Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham refused to be denied against Manchester City after his first-leg goal was controversially disallowed, but Pep Guardiola’s own English starlet in Phil Foden replicated his first-leg heroics with a stunning strike to propel City to a 2-1 win.
Here, Sports Mole selects its Champions League team of the week from the quarter-final second legs.
UCL Team of the Week – Neymar, Phil Foden, N’Golo Kante
The veterans Keylor Navas and Manuel Neuer demonstrated their prowess in the clash of the titans at the Parc des Princes, with the latter keeping his side in the tie on several occasions. However, Real Madrid were indebted to their number one Thibaut Courtois, as his four saves at Anfield proved pivotal on a night where Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were frustrated time and time again.
Many expected PSG’s Colin Dagba to struggle on the right-hand side without Marquinhos there to help him out, but the 22-year-old dealt with the threat of Kingsley Coman and Alphonso Davies expertly – making five tackles and three interceptions on the night – and he edges out Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Reds are represented in the rearguard by Andy Robertson, who finished the night with an 89% pass success rate and could have chalked up a couple of assists if his teammates were more clinical.
Even though Lucas Hernandez’s efforts were ultimately for nought, the France international produced a sensational display in Bayern’s defence to keep Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at bay throughout the evening – including a last man tackle to deny the former. Liverpool’s attackers must take some of the blame for failing to find the back of the net against Real Madrid, but the unfamiliar centre-back pairing of Eder Militao and Nacho were on form throughout the 90 minutes, and the Spaniard just edges out his partner.
Liverpool were up in arms when Bjorn Kuipers decided that Casemiro’s challenge on James Milner only warranted a yellow card, but with five clearances, four successful tackles and two interceptions, the Brazilian continues to demonstrate his importance to Zinedine Zidane’s engine room and played a key role in his side’s efforts to preserve their first-leg lead.
It was a toss up between Chelsea lynchpins N’Golo Kante and Jorginho for one of the other two spots in midfield, with the Italy international winning a staggering eight tackles on the night and completing 86% of his passes. However, having lasted the full 90 minutes after just recovering from injury, as well as popping up everywhere on the pitch, Kante gets the nod in our team.
After his controversially-disallowed goal at the Etihad, Jude Bellingham was not going to be denied this time around, as the 17-year-old curled home like a seasoned centre-forward would to open the scoring at the Westfalenstadion. The teenager’s goal ultimately counted for nothing in the tie, but Bellingham’s evident potential over the two legs certainly has England fans excited for the future.
Bellingham’s fellow Englishman Phil Foden scored what proved to be his side’s winner in the first leg, and his strike in the second leg was all the more impressive, as he powered home a left-footed effort from outside the area following a short corner. Also boasting a 92% pass success rate – as well as three key passes – Foden was a simple choice for our attack.
Porto’s Mehdi Taremi deserved to be on the winning side after his spectacular bicycle kick in Seville, but as one of only two recognised strikers to find the back of the net in the second legs, he gets the nod over Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. The final spot in our team goes to Neymar, who produced a dazzling display throughout the evening against Bayern with six successful dribbles, although he was frustrated by the woodwork twice and the tireless work of Hernandez at the back.