The Best XI of the Champions League Last 16

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2013

The Best XI of the Champions League Last 16

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    The Champions League Round of 16 draw took place on Monday, with each of the remaining teams learning who their opposition would be when the tournament starts up again in February.

    There will be a Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder love-in as Jose Mourinho's Chelsea meet Galatasaray, Arsenal face a tricky trip to Bayern Munich and half of Manchester City's backroom staff will reunite with Barcelona.

    We've picked a best XI from the remaining players in the world's biggest club competition, both for their performance thus far and their importance moving forward. Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments.

GK: Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich

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    There are keepers who have conceded fewer goals in the Champions League group stage—David de Gea, Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois—but there can be few arguments that Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the competition. And probably the world.

    He has conceded five goals so far, but to be fair, three of these came in the final match against Manchester City when Die Roten had already qualified.

    For his brilliant domestic and continental performances, Courtois would almost certainly be Neuer's backup in this XI.

LB: David Alaba, Bayern Munich

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    You may be under the impression that this best XI is quickly going to become a Bayern Munich XI, but David Alaba has played out of his skin in this Champions League campaign—much like the last one.

    There are few who could mount a sensible challenge to Alaba's left-back slot in the Round of 16.

CB: Vincent Kompany, Manchester City

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    The Catalan press, via the International Business Times, have shown a great deal of apprehension in light of Barcelona's Round of 16 draw with Manchester City, thanks in part to the fact that they feel a defence featuring Vincent Kompany might be hard to break down.

    Granted, the Citizens have conceded 10 goals in this European campaign, but the Belgian has been an exemplary leader and a source of cohesion throughout. The form he showed in the 6-3 demolition of Arsenal at the weekend will come in handy during City's debut in the knockout rounds.

CB: Miranda, Atletico Madrid

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    Atletico Madrid powered through the group stage while dropping only two points and conceding just three goals.

    One of the reasons for the Rojiblancos' plus-12 goal difference is centre-back Miranda. Not only has the Brazilian scored twice, including their opening goal of the campaign, but he has been a rock at the back.

RB: Gregory van der Wiel, Paris Saint-Germain

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    In his second Champions League season at Paris Saint-Germain, Gregory van der Wiel has moved out of the shadow of Christophe Jallet with some outstanding performances.

    He isn't scared to push high up the field, which is evident in the fact that he is currently in joint third place for assists (Samir Nasri and Thiago Motta have also managed four assists).

LM: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

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    On his current form, it would be a crime to leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of a Champions League XI.

    The Real Madrid star broke a goal-scoring record in this campaign, finding the net an unprecedented nine times—and it would have been 10 were it not for his penalty miss during the final match in Copenhagen.

    With Ballon d'Or favourite Ronaldo in their ranks on red-hot form, it seems Real Madrid have their best chance in several years to pick up "La Decima" (their long-awaited 10th European Cup).

CM: Thiago Motta, Paris Saint-Germain

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    Brazilian-born Italy international Thiago Motta may be entering the autumn years of his career, but he is still in rude health in this season's Champions League.

    His standout performance was the group opener at Olympiakos, in which the defensive midfielder scored two and set up another.

    Motta has also provided four assists thus far, a tally beaten only by Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria.

CM: Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal

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    This spot probably would have gone to Arturo Vidal had Juventus not scored a premature berth in the Europa League, but this takes nothing away from Aaron Ramsey's superb performances.

    The Welshman, enjoying an "annus mirabilis" in all competitions, has scored five goals and provided one assist if you include the play-off ties against Fenerbahce.

    Nowhere was his contribution more important than the deft header at Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion that gave three points and a vital resurgence to the Gunners' European campaign.

RM: Arjen Robben, Bayern Munich

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    Man City's Jesus Navas was in with a shout to obtain the right wing spot for his three assists and consistent form in the group stage, as was Atletico Madrid's Arda Turan, who has shown superb command of both wings this season.

    However, the position must be awarded to Arjen Robben, who continues to command the right side of Europe's most dominant team.

    He has scored three and provided three assists in four group games, and this rate of contribution shows no signs of slowing down for the Round of 16.

FW: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain

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    Rounding out our trio of PSG stars in this XI is the mighty Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been resplendent in this year's group stage.

    The Swede has scored eight times in five group games and may have challenged Ronaldo's goal-scoring record if Laurent Blanc hadn't rested him in the final group match at Benfica.

    We saw Zlatan at his most outrageous in the 5-0 win over Anderlecht, in which he scored four goals. One of those was a stunning 30-yard net buster that some reports clocked at 93 mph.

FW: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

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    This spot could have gone to Diego Costa, as both he and Aguero are enjoying superb domestic and continental form this season.

    However, if you ask yourself which striker you would rather have in your team right now, it has to be (an injury-free) Aguero.

    The Argentinean has found the net six times and provided two assists in the group stage, a tally he could have bolstered if Manuel Pellegrini had taken out his abacus at the Allianz Arena and brought him off the bench.

     

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