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Champions League Player Power Rankings: Bayern, PSG Shine in Round of 16 Week 1

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterFebruary 20, 2014

Champions League Player Power Rankings: Bayern, PSG Shine in Round of 16 Week 1

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Each week, we provide Premier League player power rankings as par for the course. Now we're moving into the UEFA Champions League business.

    These rankings represent the top 10 in-form players in the knockout stages only. Therefore, the first week's installment is largely a collection of the best performances on show.

    It will be updated next week after the second batch of games featuring clubs like Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

     

    All statistics via Squawka.com 

Honourable Mentions

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    Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

    There were, by our count, 19 star performances across all four UEFA Champions League games. Unfortunately, not all of them can be honoured in our top 10.

    Here are the unlucky nine.

     

    Kaka

    Adel Taarabt

    Diego Costa

    Laurent Koscielny

    Thiago Alcantara

    David Silva

    Lucas Moura

    Jordi Alba

    Maxwell

10. Dani Alves, Barcelona

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Dani Alves took some undeserved flack for his performance on Tuesday, but where some saw a player unreliable in possession, we saw an aggressive right-back winning his battles and pushing Barcelona up the pitch.

    He capped his performance with a goal, making it 2-0 to the visitors and creating a very tough situation for Manchester City.

    His linkup with Lionel Messi and Xavi is immense. 

9. Diego Godin, Atletico Madrid

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    Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

    Diego Godin was excellent at the San Siro and came away with a well-earned clean sheet.

    Milan ramped up several periods of pressure at home to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, but they failed to find a goal. The defence stood tall as Godin dominated the aerial arena in the box and gave his strikers the chance to nick a winner.

    Diego Costa obliged. 

8. Marco Verratti, Paris Saint-Germain

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Marco Verratti didn't make our UEFA Champions League Team of the Week because of the astonishing displays from other central midfielders. However, he was certainly one of the top 10 performers overall.

    His ridiculous Maradona-esque turn on the edge of his own box to weave out of trouble was synonymous with the unprecedented confidence levels the Italian has.

    He picked up an assist for Blaise Matuidi's goal and was excellent throughout. 

7. Gerard Pique, Barcelona

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Barcelona's defence was surely an area Manuel Pellegrini was looking to exploit on Tuesday, but Gerard Pique stepped into the limelight and dominated Alvaro Negredo.

    He was aerially superb, efficient in his tracking and positive when stepping forward to break up play. A super showing from the much-maligned centre-back. 

6. Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Manuel Neuer looked bored at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night, and it's no surprise why. Bayern Munich dominated possession against 10-man Arsenal, and their goal was rarely threatened.

    However, on the odd occasion the Gunners did venture into the other half—in the first 10 minutes of the match, in particularthe German was on his game.

    His penalty save against Mesut Ozil may have seemed easy, but it was still a penalty save. 

5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his ninth and 10th goals of the UEFA Champions League campaign so far as Paris Saint-Germain destroyed Bayer Leverkusen.

    This was by no means his best game, and his passing radar seemed a little off throughout the first half, but he stepped up and did the damage that essentially leads to a free runout at the Parc des Princes in March.

4. Thibaut Courtois, Atletico Madrid

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    Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

    Thibaut Courtois made an astonishing, world-class save to deny an Andrea Poli header early at the San Siro on Wednesday night.

    In a way, it set the tone. Atletico Madrid held firm and adopted a "you shall not pass" mantra all evening long. 

    The Belgian is heralded as the best young goalkeeper in the world, but in this form, how far away from the mantle of best goalkeeper in the world can he be?

3. Philipp Lahm, Bayern Munich

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Philipp Lahm split his time between right-back and defensive midfield on Wednesday. It's rare to see a player so able to switch seamlessly between roles.

    He bombarded the flank as a defender and created sustained pressure using smart decision-making. Then, he moved centrally and helped dominate possession.

    The German would opportunistically split wide and create overloads where possible, overwhelming Nacho Monreal in the process.

2. Blaise Matuidi, Paris Saint-Germain

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Blaise Matuidi reminded Europe he's one of the finest central midfielders currently plying his trade with an all-action, goalscoring performance against Bayer Leverkusen.

    He latched onto Marco Verratti's pass and slotted home the opener and then showed great strength in the box to hold off markers and allow space for Zlatan Ibrahimovic's golazo.

    Fortunately for PSG, he's now closing in on the new deal agreed at the back end of 2013. 

1. Toni Kroos, Bayern Munich

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Toni Kroos' performance on Wednesday night surely reminded Bayern Munich he's well worth paying.

    He monopolised the ball with ease, created chances for his teammates, retained possession (completed 144 of 149 passes, a 97 percent success rate) and scored the opening goal.

    He hit the post later on, going just a few inches from making it 3-0.

     

     

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