UEFA Champions League

Champions League Team of the Week: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentApril 3, 2014

Champions League Team of the Week: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Who stood out in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first legs? Here is the Champions League team of the week from the UCL quarter-final first-leg games.

    • Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid
    • Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich
    • Real Madrid 3-0 Borussia Dortmund
    • Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Chelsea

    Please comment below with your thoughts.

GK: Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund)

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    If Borussia Dortmund emulate Deportivo La Coruna overcoming a three-goal first-leg deficit against AC Milan during the 2003-04 UEFA Champions League campaign, Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller's saves in the first leg will be brought up. 

    While Dortmund crumbled under the pressure, Weidenfeller stood tall.

    Short-range shots, long-range shots and free-kicks did not faze Weidenfeller, as he made eight saves in Dortmund's 3-0 first-leg defeat to Real Madrid.

RB: Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid)

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    If you read between the lines regarding Daniel Carvajal's thoughts on Real Madrid buying him back, he should still be playing at Bayer Leverkusen.

    "I knew they [Real] could sign me again in three years' time, so I worked very hard," Carvajal said, per UEFA.com. "But it hadn't crossed my mind that they would come back in for me so soon."

    Carvajal was outstanding offensively and defensively in Real's win over Borussia Dortmund, which reinforced Real's decision to buy him back after his one season at Leverkusen.

    His overlapping runs troubled Dortmund left-back Erik Durm.

    Carvajal created three goalscoring opportunities and provided a goal for Gareth Bale.

    Defensively, Carvajal made more tackles (eight) than anyone in Dortmund's back four: Mats Hummels (six), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (five), Lukasz Piszczek (one), Durm (zero).

CB: Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Manchester United centre-back Nemanja Vidic's header against Bayern Munich in a 1-1 first-leg draw could be a pivotal moment if United can sneak a 1-0 win in the second leg. 

    Vidic attacked United deep-lying forward Wayne Rooney's corner, and it is the reason why United manager David Moyes is spared universal condemnation for the time being. 

    Everyone expected Bayern to arrive at Old Trafford and humiliate United. 

    Well, Moyes parked the bus right in front of goal, and Vidic, who will be an Inter Milan player next season, was immense at the back

    Bayern need to work on their set-piece defending, because it will be United's only avenue of scoring in the next leg.

CB: Marc Bartra (Barcelona)

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Barcelona centre-back Marc Bartra's time to shine is right now. 

    Why? 

    Barca centre-back Gerard Pique is out for the foreseeable future with a hip fracture, per BBC Sport, and the club has been issued a one-year transfer ban for breaching rules on signing minors, per James Riach at The Guardian

    Bartra would have probably spent the game in the 1-1 first-leg draw against Atletico Madrid on the bench if Pique did not break down. 

    Yes, Bartra's job was made easier with Atleti centre-forward Diego Costa going down with injury, but it was an inspired performance from Bartra.

    If Barca's lawyers cannot overturn the transfer-window ban via the Court of Arbitration in Sport, as Chelsea did in 2010, per Sam Wallace at The Independent, it will give Bartra one season to solidify his starting position.

LB: Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid)

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Real Madrid left-back Fabio Coentrao was surprisingly reliable in the win over Borussia Dortmund.

    Coentrao had only played seven La Liga games and one Champions League match headed into the fixture; therefore, you presumed he would be a weak link.

    Instead, Coentrao stood toe-to-toe with Dortmund right attacking midfielder Marco Reus, who did not score or create a goal.

CM: Isco (Real Madrid)

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti backed up his talk of moving Isco into midfield, who, like Angel Di Maria, looks like a central midfielder despite it not being a preferred position.

    Di Maria being ill led to Isco's chance, per Football Espana, and he was influential in first-leg win over Borussia Dortmund.

    Isco completed 95 percent of his passes, made three tackles and registered three key passes (a pass that leads to a shot). 

    Several weeks earlier, Ancelotti had spoken about changing Isco from a central attacking midfielder to a central midfielder. 

    "I have spoken with Isco about the comparison with [Clarence] Seedorf," Ancelotti said, per Dermot Corrigan at ESPN FC. "There is more important defensive work in this position [central midfield]. He [Isco] can play there no problem he can help the team here [sic]."

CM: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

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    Andres Kudacki

    Real Madrid central midfielder Luka Modric controlled midfield proceedings in Real's 3-0 first-leg win over Borussia Dortmund.

    He led the game in passes made (80) and goalscoring chances created (four).

    He made the final pass to Real left forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored Real's third.

CM: Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain)

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Paris Saint-Germain central midfielder Blaise Matuidi highlighted the gap in quality between him and Chelsea central midfielder David Luiz.

    Luiz was a liability, giving away pointless free-kicks, being consistently caught out of position and scoring in the wrong net.

    Meanwhile, Matuidi bossed midfield, which was a factor in PSG's 3-1 first-leg win over Chelsea. 

    Luiz made five tackles in return for five free-kicks conceded, whereas Matuidi made six tackles and conceded no free-kicks.

RF: Neymar (Barcelona)

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Barcelona manager Tata Martino is a quirky guy.

    He said he wanted to celebrate Atletico Madrid midfielder Diego Ribas' outrageous long-range goal, per ESPN.co.uk.

    Though, that isn't the most quizzical behaviour from Martino in Barca's 1-1 first-leg draw against Atleti.

    What is the point of spending €57 million on Neymar, per Barcelona's official website, with the entire package estimated at around €86.2 million, per Reuters, only to play Neymar on the wrong side?

    He is a left-sided player, not a right-sided player. 

    Unless Martino wants to play Neymar on the right wing for an extended period of time, presumably to complement Andres Iniesta on the left wing, there is no point in playing Neymar on the right side in such a big game.

    In fairness to Martino, it was a gutsy decision, and Neymar was great on the right flank considering the circumstances, but how did his goal come about?

    On the left wing with him creating an angle and curling a right-footed shot past Atleti goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

CF: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    It was not a vintage performance from Barcelona deep-lying forward Lionel Messi in Barca's first-leg draw against Atletico Madrid.

    However, he kept on advancing play and had a positive mindset throughout the game.

    He tested Atleti goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois twice and created three goalscoring chances. 

    To a degree, Messi is only included in this select 11 because of what his fellow centre-forwards and deep-lying forwards did not do in their respective games. 

    • Atleti centre-forward Diego Costa's game against Barca prematurely ended in the 30th minute with a hamstring injury, per BBC Sport
    • Costa's strike partner, David Villa, did not convert his chances. 
    • Paris Saint-Germain centre-forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic was subbed out in the 68th minute against Chelsea (a 3-1 first-leg win) due to a hamstring injury, per James Orr of The Independent.
    • Chelsea deep-lying forward Andre Schurrle was anonymous. 
    • Real Madrid centre-forward Karim Benzema's biggest obstacle in a 3-0 first-leg win was Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.
    • Dortmund centre-forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was lively but did not score or create a goal.
    • Manchester United deep-lying forward Wayne Rooney did two things of note in a 1-1 first-leg draw against Bayern Munich: Sent in a great corner and contributed to Bastian Schweinsteiger's sending-off with some convincing acting, despite Schweinsteiger getting 100 percent ball. 
    • Bayern deep-lying forward Thomas Mueller could not break down United's wall.

LF: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    You tend to wonder if deep down Real Madrid left forward Cristiano Ronaldo wants to play with Gareth Bale.

    Every time Bale shoots, it is one less shot Ronaldo can take. 

    This is why Ronaldo is screaming for the ball, receiving it and shooting, averaging 6.9 shots in the UEFA Champions League (7.4 in La Liga). 

    Ronaldo had scored 14 goals in eight Champions League games, and he added extra insurance to Real by scoring a third in a 3-0 first-leg win over Borussia Dortmund.

    You can fault Ronaldo for having tunnel vision, but his goalscoring record (42 goals in 35 combined La Liga/Champions League games) is incredible. 

     

    @allanjianga

    Statistics via WhoScored.com.

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