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Our picks for the best Champions League XI of the week
Thirty-two teams competed in the first round of the Champions League group stages provided a considerable amount of drama and entertainment. This week’s round of fixtures were just the start of what will be a long – and hopefully enjoyable – Champions League campaign.
There was plenty of Premier League interest as no less than four teams from the English top flight competed. Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool fans will be content knowing that their teams managed to come out on top. Chelsea, on the other hand, failed to impress against Europa League winners Sevilla.
Here’s our Champions League team of the week based on the first round of fixtures:
DAVID DE GEA – MANCHESTER UNITED
Although he hasn’t necessarily enjoyed the best couple of years for Manchester United, David De Gea proved on Wednesday night that he still has much to offer. Dean Henderson isn’t too far behind him in the pecking order, so it’s important that he continues to perform in order to retain the number one spot.
De Gea produced several fine saves to keep out PSG. There was nothing he could do about the PSG goal as Martial headed into his own net from a corner. He frustrated the PSG frontline with his agility and positioning throughout the night in what was on of his best performances for a while. Perhaps De Gea could be back to his best.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) OCTOBER 20, 2020
AARON WAN-BISSAKA – MANCHESTER UNITED
Another Man United player to start off the XI, Wan-Bissaka produced a very good defensive performance against PSG.
Wan-Bissaka managed to keep Neymar and Mbappe quiet as they regularly operated down his side. There’s no doubting Wan-Bissaka’s defensive capabilities, especially in an era where full backs are often more adept in the final third. He displayed his defensive acumen several times throughout as he regularly dispossessed the PSG players with his gangly legs.
He failed to penetrate the PSG backline going forward but he more than made up for that with his performance in his own half.
FABINHO – LIVERPOOL
Virgil Van Dijk’s absence meant that someone had to fill his position to partner Joe Gomez. The player chosen to do so was Fabinho. Although not a natural centre back, he has played in the position last season after previous injury issues within the team. You wouldn’t be able to tell he’s not a centre back based on Thursday performance.
In what was arguably one of the best performances of Fabinho’s Liverpool career to date, he consistently broke down PSG’s momentum with great anticipation, positional play and tackling. He made the most important play of the game from a Liverpool perspective as he cleared what would have been a certain goal off the line.
Fabinho’s clearance off the line 😳 pic.twitter.com/y2TIQDvEWt
— B/R Football (@brfootball) OCTOBER 21, 2020
If Fabinho can keep up those kind of performances at centre back, Liverpool will be in safe hands in the absence of Van Dijk.
The midfielder looked Fab at centre-back…💪
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) OCTOBER 22, 2020
CRISTIAN ROMERO – ATALANTA (ON LOAN FROM JUVENTUS)
Romero made his Champions League debut this week against Midtjylland and he certainly impressed. The young Argentine centre back is on loan from Juventus and it might not be long before he breaks into the first team at the Old Lady if he keeps up these kind of performances, especially with many of their defenders aging.
Romero was solid defensively in an Atalanta backline which kept a clean sheet. Additionally, he appeared very comfortable on the ball and even managed to chip in with an assist.
The 22-year-old centre back certainly has a bright future in the game.
ANGELINO – RB LEIPZIG (ON LOAN FROM MANCHESTER CITY)
Although normally a left back, Angelino has played on the left wing for Leipzig so far this season to good effect. We’ve put him in our XI at left back due to other impressive performances at left wing, but we couldn’t leave him out of the team.
Not normally known for his goalscoring ability, he netted all of his sides’ goals in a 2-0 victory over Istanbul. His late running into the box caused serious problems for the Istanbul back four as he consistently found himself finding space.
Manchester City may come to regret sending Angelino out on loan as left back is arguably their weakest position.
⚽️ Angelino | 16′
⚽️ Angelino | 20′
— Goal (@goal) October 20, 2020
TETE – SHAKHTAR DONETSK
In a shock result at the Santiago Bernabeu, Shakhtar came away with a 3-2 victory against Real Madrid. Madrid were strong favourites for the tie, especially considering that Shakhtar were missing no less than ten first team players due to positive covid-19 tests.
Tete played a massive role in gathering the win by scoring one and assisting one. His goal was a perfectly placed low shot into the bottom corner. Courtois failed to get a hand on the ball despite being at full stretch. His assist was also delightful as he backheeled the ball into the path of Manor Soloman who made no mistake with his finish.
Tete is a talented young player. After coming through the youth academy of Gremio, he moved to Shakhtar in 2019 and has made quite an impression since. We wouldn’t be surprised if he earned a move abroad within the next few years. The player himself has identified Manchester United as a dream destination, so maybe United fans could have something to look forward to in the next couple of years.
JOSHUA KIMMICH – BAYERN MUNICH
In one of the more embarrassing results of the first week, Bayern comfortably dispatched of Atletico Madrid by 4-0.
Joshua Kimmich played a key role in the victory as he looked very comfortable on the ball, providing an assist in the process. The versatile midfielder is arguably one of the most underappreciated players in the world. An integral part of the Bayern squad which has been making serious noise within the last year or so, he rarely gets the plaudits he deserves.
Kimmich. Straight BALLER 👊 pic.twitter.com/DoqnRpj7je
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) OCTOBER 21, 2020
CHRISTOPHER NKUNKU – RB LEIPZIG
Like Angelino, Nkunku also played well in Leipzig’s comfortable win over Istanbul.
He played well as he looked very comfortable on the ball and even linked with Angelino as he provided an assist for the Spaniard. Nkunku has played well for Leipzig since transferring from a PSG team where he was nothing more than a rotation play. He has settled well in the Bundesliga and has certainly been a good acquisition for Leipzig.
KINGSLEY COMAN – BAYERN MUNICH
Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry being ruled out meant Kingsley had the opportunity to start against Atletico. He made use of that opportunity as he was the best player on the pitch that night.
Coman scored two and also assisted one in a man of the match performance. Coman has had an illustrious career so far despite not being a regular starter anywhere he has gone. Perhaps after yesterday’s performance he can find a permanent place in the squad, although it will prove nearly impossible to displace Sane and Gnabry.
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) OCTOBER 21, 2020
LIONEL MESSI – BARCELONA
After a slow start to the season by his standards, Lionel Messi was back to top form as he helped the Blaugrana overcame Ferencvaros.
Messi scored and assisted in what was a top performance. His all-around play was also impressive as he made four key passes and was a constant threat to the Ferencvaros defence. I don’t think there was any doubt that Messi would get back to his best as the season progressed, but this performance will certainly help him do so.
Ferencvaros became the 36th team Leo Messi has scored against in the Champions League, extending his own record ✨ pic.twitter.com/MftkCFRNoh
— B/R Football (@brfootball) OCTOBER 21, 2020
ALVARO MORATA – JUVENTUS (ON LOAN FROM ATLETICO MADRID)
Morata is an often-maligned figure in world football, particularly after his unsuccessful spell at Chelsea. On his day though, Morata is a world class striker and he proved so on Tuesday with a fine poaching display.
Morata scored Juventus’s two goals as they ran out as winners against Dynamo Kiev. His off the ball movement, positioning and anticipation were too much for the Kiev defence to handle as he put in a quality striking display.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen)