Europa League Team of the Week: Nacer Chadli Rallies Against Benfica in Vain

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 21, 2014

Europa League Team of the Week: Nacer Chadli Rallies Against Benfica in Vain

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    Thursday's round of 16 results mean that we now know which eight teams will make up this season's Europa League quarter-finals.

    AZ Alkmaar, Basel, Benfica, Juventus, Lyon, Porto, Sevilla and Valencia managed to make their way past their respective two-legged affairs, and Thursday's heap of fixtures produced a healthy serving of star performances.

    Read on for a best XI made up of the best and brightest Europa League stars to have featured this week.

Goalkeeper: Fabiano

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    Some Porto fans may have held some fears upon seeing Helton come off injured during the 1-0 loss to Sporting Lisbon last weekend, but those same minds can rest knowing that there's another fine goalkeeping presence in the side.

    That substitute appearance against Sporting was the first Primeira Liga appearance of Fabiano's season, but the Brazilian certainly didn't look like he was lacking in match fitness en route to a 2-2 draw with Napoli.

    Fabiano made a magnificent 10 saves in total, claiming eight crosses in the process and rising to the occasion to ease Porto's injury concerns.

Right-Back: Antonio Amaya

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    Although Real Betis lost the second leg of their Seville derby to Sevilla, right-back Antonio Amaya was a rare glimmer of light in the hosts' defence.

    Sevilla winger Marko Marin had a very tough time in breaking Betis' lines as a result of Amaya's display, which included four tackles and some superb marshalling of the back line.

    The really above-average statistic managed by the Spaniard, however, is that he made no less than 13 interceptions, more than the opponents defence could manage combined.

Left-Back: Gaston Sauro

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    Basel's comeback in Salzburg was something of a miracle on Thursday evening, with the 10 men from Switzerland managing to turn things in their favour from 1-0 down.

    And it was a decisive winning header from left-back Gaston Sauro that sealed the win, the defender positioned in the right place at the right time to knock home a rebounded attempt just prior to his own finish.

    Taking the most touches of any defender on his side, Sauro held a good standard in putting Basel on the front foot, making an impressive 15 passes, not to mention 11 effective clearances.

Centre-Back: Milan Bisevac

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    Lyon elected to not take any risks in their trip to Viktoria Plzen, fielding a strong outfit in the Czech Republic, complete with centre-back Milan Bisevac in the frame.

    And the Serbian ran rampant from the back, winning every aerial duel he competed in, as well as providing the assist for Bafetimbi Gomis' goal.

Centre-Back: Ezequiel Garay

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    Francisco Seco/Associated Press

    Ezequiel Garay was another centre-back whose performance on Thursday evening was more notable for its offensive contributions.

    The Argentinian netted the opener in Lisbon; setting the Eagles on their way to successfully defending the lead they'd opened up during the first leg.

    Garay's South American flair rose to the surface, too, as he maintained a passing accuracy of 90 percent, winning 83 percent of his aerial duels.

Centre Midfield: Andrea Pirlo

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    Andrea Pirlo's 1-0 winner against Fiorentina ensured that the Turin giants kept alive their dream of winning a European final on home turf.

    The central midfielder has taken the bull by the horns in Serie A on so many occasions, and La Viola were unfortunate enough to once again feel Pirlo's wrath first-hand.

    Pirlo took a massive 88 touches, keeping up a 90 percent pass-completion rate and making three key passes, joined by Mauricio Isla as the joint-highest of any Juve player.

Centre Midfield: Viktor Elm

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    A 0-0 draw between Anzhi Makhachkala and AZ Alkmaar was far from the most entertaining of results this week, but a well-rounded outing on Viktor Elm's behalf meant that qualification for the next round was assured.

    Pitted in an engine room battle, Elm took 85 touches of the ball, as well as making four tackles, two key passes and winning seven aerial duels thanks to his sizeable frame.

Right Attacking Midfield: Eduardo Salvio

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    The aforementioned Garay was set up for his score by an attractive Eduardo Salvio cross, the creative asset using his centre-back's staunch presence to its full advantage in a corner scenario.

    However, there was more to Salvio's performance than just that one moment, as his piercing runs provided an issue for Danny Rose, who was one of several Spurs men in a makeshift Tim Sherwood back-line

    Altogether, the winger won seven dribbles against the opposition and was a general nuisance throughout.

Left Attacking Midfield: Ricardo Quaresma

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    Ricardo Quaresma's second stint as a Porto player has gone surprisingly well, with the journeyman winger experiencing a strange twist of form since returning to his former club.

    The winger again stood out in the 2-2 draw at Napoli, a game which saw him once again get on the scoreboard, this time with his left foot providing the difference from near the edge of the area.

    The Dragons will be ecstatic to once again be getting the best out of their former youngster, who drew in foul after foul with his mazy runs.

Centre Attacking Midfield: Nacer Chadli

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    Our performance of the week is especially tragic when one considers that Nacer Chadli's brace counted for nought, with a 2-2 draw at the Estadio da Luz not enough to seal qualification.

    However, the Belgian international ran Spurs' revival almost single handedly, fielded through a more central position on Thursday that evidently worked to his advantage.

    Aside from those two goals, Chadli also helped out those around him, keeping up an 86 percent passing percentage, getting three of his four attempted shots on target.

Striker: Carlos Bacca

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    In truth, the impressive strikers weren't out in force on Thursday, but Carlos Bacca's display as part of the Sevilla outfit that triumphed over close rivals Real Betis deserves some praise.

    Alongside Kevin Gameiro, Bacca was predictably the more energetic of the two, having four shots on goal, two of which found their way on target and one actually hitting the back of net.

    The 27-year-old wasn't involved in the penalty shootout it would later take Sevilla to advance, but his contributions in normal time were no less essential.

    All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.