UEFA Champions League 250: Ranking the Top Footballers After the Group Stage

Daniel TilukFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2017

UEFA Champions League 250: Ranking the Top Footballers After the Group Stage

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    B/R

    Out goes the group stage, and in comes the knockout stages.

    The Champions League's last-16 draw offered some mouthwatering ties, with several of Europe's top clubs locking horns over two legs thanks to some inventive swirling of the balls, but one piece of business remains from the group stage: ranking the best players at their respective positions after Matchday 6.

    Standout footballers were in abundance during the group stage. Many of the usual suspects were amazing, but often lesser known, or even unknown, footballers shocked our collective consciousness and arrived from nowhere.

    In that sense, Bleacher Report is taking a holistic approach: breaking down each position, finding those outstanding footballers and grading each according to his output. With 250 players—from the 32 qualified clubs in the group stage—competition for places is tough, but there is enough room for thorough investigation and critique.

    Each player is evaluated by your slightly biased but mostly fair author, who will bring you player grades based on the action after every round of matches.

    Before presenting the sixth set of grades for the 2016/17 Champions League, though, a reminder of the methodology is in order.

Methodology

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    Power Sport Images/Getty Images

    Footballers are graded on a series of four key attributes in their respective positional roles. Using a grading scale, starting at zero and going up to anywhere from 10 to 25, the system is altered by the most recently completed matchday—reaching a maximum of 100 points.

    The 250 players are divided into positions and ranked against/with their contemporaries:

    • 30 goalkeepers
    • 20 right-backs and right wing-backs
    • 20 left-backs and left wing-backs
    • 40 centre-backs
    • 60 defensive, central and attacking midfielders
    • 25 right midfielders, right-wingers and right-sided forwards
    • 25 left midfielders, left-wingers and left-sided forwards
    • 30 strikers and centre-forwards

    Domestic form will bear no weight in the Champions League proceedings.

    Obviously no system is perfect, and there are flaws with every conceivable methodology, but giving each group of players a unique grading system—rather than throwing every footballer into the same equation—should offer a truer end result from matchday to matchday.

    Grading is a subjective process. We all have things we notice and things we appreciate more than others; in that respect, no ranking is ever definitive.

    In the event of ties, we simply ask: "Who do we think had a better game?" The winner gets top billing.

Goalkeepers

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    TF-Images/Getty Images

    In the last matchday of the group stage, managers had an array of situations to handle. Some clubs were already eliminated, some were qualified for the knockout stages and others were somewhere in between. This offered coaches chances to rotate their squads, and the players who most felt the brunt of these alterations were goalkeepers.

    Given makeshift back lines to marshal in several cases, No. 1s were tasked with being the last line of defence for back lines that were not always comfortable corralling attacks. More than a few goalkeepers received drubbings as a result—most notably Leicester City's Ben Hamer.

    In Kasper Schmeichel's absence the 29-year-old Englishman, in front of a scarcely used back four, retrieved five FC Porto goals out of his net. Hamer cannot receive too much punishment for his solitary 90 minutes of Champions League football, but it shows what can happen when change happens en masse.

    On the goalkeeping spectrum's other end, Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer played at his expected world-class level for one of the few times during this season's UCL campaign. Manager Carlo Ancelotti's arrival has altered Neuer's directives slightly from previous management, but the Germany international was instrumental in Bayern earning a clean sheet and three points against Atletico Madrid.

      

    Grading Scale

    Hand: Handling (graded out of 25)

    Pos: Positioning (graded out of 25)

    Kick: Kicking (graded out of 25)

    Saves: Saves (graded out of 25)

    Ovr: Top possible score of 100

     

    Goalkeeper Rankings | Matchday 6
    RankPlayerClubHandPosKick Saves Ovr
    1Sergio RicoSevilla2223232492
    2Jan OblakAtletico Madrid2224222391
    3Hugo LlorisTottenham Hotspur2322222289
    4Gianluigi BuffonJuventus2224212188
    5David OspinaArsenal2122222287
    6Manuel NeuerBayern Munich 2023212286
    7Anthony LopesOlympique Lyonnais2221222186
    8Danijel SubasicAS Monaco2221192183
    9Roman BurkiBorussia Dortmund 2022202082 
    10Kasper SchmeichelLeicester City2121192182
    11Ederson MoraesBenfica2120192080 
    12Keylor NavasReal Madrid1920202079
    13Robin OlsenCopenhagen2020192079
    14Iker Casillas FC Porto1920201978
    15Alphonse AreolaParis Saint-Germain2019191977
    16Yann SommerBorussia Monchengladbach2019181976
    17FabricioBesiktas 1820191875
    18Marc-Andre ter StegenBarcelona1919191774
    19Jose ReinaNapoli1819171872
    20Bernd LenoBayer Leverkusen1718191872
    21Rui PatricioSporting CP1917181771
    22Artur RudkoDynamo Kiev1619171870
    23Jeroen ZoetPSV Eindhoven1718171769
    24Craig GordonCeltic1717161868
    25Claudio BravoManchester City1517191566
    26Tomas VaclikFC Basel1715171564
    27Soslan DzhanaevFC Rostov 1616151663
    28Vladislav StoyanovLudogorets1514161661
    29Ludovic ButelleClub Brugge1415151559
    30Igor AkinfeevCSKA Moscow1315161458

     

    Notable Omissions

    • Petr Cech, Arsenal

Right-Backs and Right Wing-Backs

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    FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

    Over the course of the group stage's six matchdays, right-backs were challenged by a competitive and talented group of left-flank players. Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Dries Mertens, to name a few, have fought for every scrap, and while world-class attackers usually get their rewards, their opposite numbers in defence have been largely solid.

    Juventus' Dani Alves and Atletico Madrid's Juanfran were rested on Matchday 6, giving Rafael da Silva of Olympique Lyonnais, Dani Carvajal of Real Madrid and Lukasz Piszczek of Borussia Dortmund an opportunity to climb the rankings in their stead.

    Carvajal had maybe the toughest job of that right-back selection, playing one of Europe's best attacking outfits in Borussia Dortmund. The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle have cause and potential to interchange on the left side, but the Real Madrid defender creates his own threat moving forward.

    Logging his second assist of the competition, this one setting up centre-forward Karim Benzema, Carvajal's work helped get manager Zinedine Zidane's outfit an early 1-0 lead. The match ended 2-2, but the Spain international was vital in both directions, and his progression in the rankings reflects that.

        

    Grading Scale

    Tac: Tackling (graded out of 25)

    Pas: Passing (graded out of 25)

    Dis: Discipline (graded out of 25)

    Off: Offence (graded out of 25)

    Ovr: Top possible score of 100

      

    Right-Back and Right Wing-Back Rankings | Matchday 6
    RankPlayerClubTac Pas Dis Off Ovr
    1Dani AlvesJuventus 2023 24 22 89 
    2JuanfranAtletico Madrid23 22 231886
    3RafaelOlympique Lyonnais2021212183
    4Dani CarvajalReal Madrid2020212283
    5Lukasz PiszczekBorussia Dortmund2120202182
    6Lars BenderBayer Leverkusen2121211881
    7Philipp LahmBayern Munich2020202080
    8Serge AurierParis Saint-Germain1920192280
    9Kieran TrippierTottenham Hotspur2019212080
    10Luis HernandezLeicester City2020192079
    11Hector BellerinArsenal1820192178
    12Elseid HysajNapoli1919192077
    13Sergi RobertoBarcelona1821181976
    14Miguel LayunFC Porto1818191974
    15Kyle WalkerTottenham Hotspur1718181871
    16Andrea RaggiAS Monaco1718181669
    17Pablo ZabaletaManchester City1617181667
    18Mario FernandesCSKA Moscow1617171666
    19Peter AnkersenCopenhagen1516171765
    20Joshua BrenetPSV Eindhoven1516151662

         

    Notable Omissions

    • Bacary Sagna, Manchester City
    • Mikael Lustig, Celtic

Left-Backs and Left Wing-Backs

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Atletico Madrid's Filipe Luis was unavailable for manager Diego Simeone in their last group-stage fixture. The 31-year-old left-back has been the best player at his position (certainly the most underappreciated) for seasons, but in the latter portion of his career, the Brazil international's reputation has seen a much-warranted uptick.

    In his stead against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich was the 20-year-old Lucas Hernandez. A natural centre-back, the Frenchman was Atletico's standout defender in their 1-0 loss—albeit out of position. Los Colchoneros should get a few more top seasons from Luis, but if the Brazilian's form dips or he is unavailable through injury, Hernandez at left-back might be an interesting long-term experiment for Simeone to conduct.

    Elsewhere, if one looks through the top five of each position in Matchday 6's rankings, one team and one player stands out: Copenhagen and Ludwig Augustinsson. Pipped to last-16 progression by Leicester City and FC Porto, the Danes were not expected to leave a lasting imprint on this season's competition, but they were a resilient outfit, falling two points short of the knockout stages.

    Augustinsson is their most intriguing prospect, a player sure to be coveted in transfer windows to come. The 22-year-old left-back was incredible in the Champions League, especially considering the standard of play in Denmark. A Sweden international, Augustinsson created three goals in UCL play this season (the most assists from any defender); one wonders how long he can remain in the Danish capital with his ability.

       

    Grading Scale

    Tac: Tackling (graded out of 25)

    Pas: Passing (graded out of 25)

    Dis: Discipline (graded out of 25)

    Off: Offence (graded out of 25)

    Ovr: Top possible score of 100

      

    Left-Back and Left Wing-Back Rankings | Matchday 6
    RankPlayerClubTac Pas Dis Off Ovr
    1Filipe LuisAtletico Madrid 23 23 24 2292 
    2Sergio EscuderoSevilla2222232289
    3Djibril SidibeAS Monaco2221232389
    4Ludwig AugustinssonCopenhagen2122222388
    5Benjamin HenrichsBayer Leverkusen2322212288
    6Christian FuchsLeicester City2022222387
    7Faouzi GhoulamNapoli2023222287
    8MarceloReal Madrid1922222487
    9David AlabaBayern Munich2022222286
    10Patrice Evra Juventus2021212082
    11Danny RoseTottenham Hotspur1921202181
    12Jordi AlbaBarcelona1722192179
    13Alex TellesFC Porto1821202079
    14Kieran GibbsArsenal2018201878
    15Maciej RybusOlympique Lyonnais1920201776
    16Aleksandar KolarovManchester City1818201975
    17Alex GrimaldoBenfica1917181972
    18NatanaelLudogorets1619171870
    19Marcel Schmelzer Borussia Dortmund1716181869
    20Ben DaviesTottenham Hotspur1716181768

      

    Notable Omissions

    • Maxwell, Paris Saint-Germain
    • Nacho Monreal, Arsenal

Centre-Backs

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    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

    Juventus' preferred centre-back trio, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, was given the night off by their manager Massimiliano Allegri against Dinamo Zagreb. The five-time defending Serie A champions still kept a clean sheet, won 2-0, topped Group H and drew Porto in the Champions League last 16.

    The Old Lady's boss will not be rolling the dice in the knockout stages after being pitted against the Portuguese side, and the defensive alternative to Real Madrid's BBC will surely be on display—provided their health allows. The three centre-backs slid in the rankings as a result of their Matchday 6 absence, but that should be rectified as the competition progresses.

    A renowned world-class centre-back, but one who's played under his level this UCL campaign, is Paris Saint-Germain's Thiago Silva.

    Fellow Brazilian and frequent partner Marquinhos played better during the opening matches, but their respective performance levels have shifted. Silva was lively against Ludogorets Razgrad, striking the post twice in 90 minutes. Still acclimatising to a post-David Luiz life in Paris, the 32-year-old Brazilian will be heavily relied upon in the knockout stage against Barcelona—both defensively and offensively.

        

    Grading Scale

    Def: Defending (graded out of 25)

    Pas: Passing (graded out of 25)

    Dis: Discipline (graded out of 25)

    Off: Offence (graded out of 25)

    Ovr: Top possible score of 100   

    Centre-Back Rankings | Matchday 6

    RankPlayerClubDef Pas Dis Off Ovr
    1Diego GodinAtletico Madrid2422251990
    2Laurent KoscielnyArsenal2323232089
    3Kamil GlikAS Monaco2321242088
    4Raphael Varane Real Madrid 2221222287
    5Sokratis PapastathopoulosBorussia Dortmund22222221 87
    6Jeremy MorelOlympique Lyonnais2322231987
    7Giorgio ChielliniJuventus2420241987
    8Leonardo BonucciJuventus2222212186
    9Marc BartraBorussia Dortmund2223212086
    10Shkodran MustafiArsenal2222222086
    11Gabriel MercadoSevilla2321231885
    12Andrea BarzagliJuventus2320221883
    13Mathias JorgensenCopenhagen2120212082
    14Mats HummelsBayern Munich2021201980
    15Samuel UmtitiBarcelona2019212080
    16Robert HuthLeicester City2318231680
    17Gerard PiqueBarcelona1920202079
    18Jan VertonghenTottenham Hotspur1921192079
    19Sebastian CoatesSporting CP2120191878
    20Toby AlderweireldTottenham Hotspur 192020 19 78 
    21Jonathan TahBayer Leverkusen 2019 20 18 77 
    22JemersonAS Monaco1820 20 18 76
    23Stefan SavicAtletico Madrid2019201675
    24Sergio RamosReal Madrid1819191975
    25Thiago SilvaParis Saint-Germain1920181875
    26Javier MascheranoBarcelona2019201675
    27Adil RamiSevilla2119191574
    28MarquinhosParis Saint-Germain2018191673
    29Javi MartinezBayern Munich1817191872
    30Wes MorganLeicester City1918191672
    31Dusko TosicBesiktas1918181772
    32Erik JohanssonCopenhagen1817181871
    33Omer ToprakBayer Leverkusen1818181670
    34Kalidou KoulibalyNapoli1917191570
    35Jerome BoatengBayern Munich1816161666
    36FelipeFC Porto1916151666
    37Nicolas OtamendiManchester City 1815181465
    38MarceloBesiktas1718161465
    39Andreas ChristensenBorussia Monchengladbach1617161463
    40Nicolas N'KoulouOlympique Lyonnais1616151663

     

    Notable Omissions

    • Pepe, Real Madrid
    • Jose Gimenez, Atletico Madrid

Defensive Midfielders, Central Midfielders and Central Attacking Midfielders

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Arsenal miss the well-rounded game of Santi Cazorla in midfield, so their Champions League ambitions are dependent on two players.

    The first is Francis Coquelin. Arsene Wenger's midfield anchor, the Frenchman's diligence and tackling are imperative for the Gunners' free-flowing, offensive movement. Coquelin's work allows for Arsenal's second instrumental midfielder, Mesut Ozil, to find pockets of space, pull strings and be a general nuisance to opposing defences.

    Scoring four goals and assisting three others, the Germany international has provided the north Londoners with much-needed offensive production in Europe this season. His third assist came during Matchday 6 against FC Basel and, with Paris Saint-Germain slipping against Ludogorets, helped Arsenal top Group A.

    Their north London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, failed to qualify for the knockout stages, but in the club's last Champions League game this season, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen played arguably their best match of the tournament.

    Still a developing side under relatively youthful boss Mauricio Pochettino, this six-match learning experience should bode well as Spurs continue their growth.

       

    Grading Scale

    Tac: Tackling (graded out of 25)

    Pas: Passing (graded out of 25)

    Cre: Creativity (graded out of 25)

    Pro: Production (graded out of 25)

    Ovr: Top possible score of 100

       

    Defensive, Central and Central Attacking Midfielder Rankings | Matchday 6
    RankPlayerClubTac Pas Cre Pro Ovr
    1Mesut OzilArsenal1625252591
    2Kevin De BruyneManchester City1824242490
    3Luka ModricReal Madrid2223232290
    4Blaise MatuidiParis Saint-Germain2322212389
    5Marek HamsikNapoli2023232389
    6Marco VerrattiParis Saint-Germain21 23 22 22 88
    7FabinhoAS Monaco 2222222187
    8Thiago AlcantaraBayern Munich1923242187
    9Sergio BusquetsBarcelona2223192286
    10Arturo VidalBayern Munich2122 20 22 85 
    11Steven N'ZonziSevilla2321 19 22 85 
    12GabiAtletico Madrid 2222 21 19 84 
    13Adrien SilvaSporting Lisbon 20 21 22 21 84 
    14Francis CoquelinArsenal2321182284
    15Joshua KimmichBayern Munich  2022212184
    16Saul NiguezAtletico Madrid1922231983
    17Kevin KamplBayer Leverkusen1821222283
    18Ilkay Gundogan Manchester City19 22 22 20 83
    19Koke Atletico Madrid 1922221982 
    20Miralem PjanicJuventus1722222182
    21DaniloFC Porto2221172282
    22Julian WeiglBorussia Dortmund2020212081
    23Corentin TolissoOlympique Lyonnais1721212281
    24Victor WanyamaTottenham Hotspur2220182080
    25Santi CazorlaArsenal1920202180
    26Raphael GuerreiroBorussia Dortmund1920201978
    27David SilvaManchester City1720202077
    28Toni KroosReal Madrid1820192077
    29Andres IniestaBarcelona1721201977
    30Andre Gomes Barcelona1919201876
    31Dele AlliTottenham Hotspur1720201976
    32Ivan RakiticBarcelona1819191975
    33Daniel AmarteyLeicester City2119181775
    34Maxime GonalonsOlympique Lyonnais1820181975
    35Tiemoue BakayokoAS Monaco1919181975
    36William CarvalhoSporting Lisbon1920181774
    37Charles AranguizBayer Leverkusen1819191874
    38FernandinhoManchester City1919171974
    39Thomas DelaneyCopenhagen1818181973
    40Christian EriksenTottenham Hotspur1619191973
    41Danny DrinkwaterLeicester City1918181873
    42Mario GotzeBorussia Dortmund1619201772
    43Adrien RabiotParis Saint-Germain1818171871
    44Jordan FerriOlympique Lyonnais1918161770
    45Sami KhediraJuventus1818171669
    46Granit XhakaArsenal1717161767
    47Davy PropperPSV Eindhoven1817171466
    48Atiba HutchinsonBesiktas1816161666
    49Denys GarmashDynamo Kiev1717151665
    50Scott BrownCeltic1717141664
    51Oliver TorresFC Porto 1616161664
    52Taulant XhakaFC Basel1615171664
    53Ljubomir FejsaBenfica1517161563
    54Matteo KovacicReal Madrid1716151563
    55MarcelinhoLudogorets1515161763
    56Thiago MottaParis Saint-Germain1616141662
    57Sergi DarderOlympique Lyonnais1617151462
    58Joao MoutinhoAS Monaco1416151661
    59Gonzalo CastroBorussia Dortmund 1516 1415 60
    60Pontus WernbloomCSKA Moscow 141515 15 59 

       

    Notable Omissions

    • Arda Turan, Barcelona
    • Xabi Alonso, Bayern Munich
    • Renato Sanches, Bayern Munich

Right Midfielders, Right-Wingers and Right-Sided Forwards

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    VI-Images/Getty Images

    Barcelona have arguably the best cheat code in world football. Even when the Catalan giants are not playing particularly well, superstar and talisman Lionel Messi normally conjures up something to earn three points. Leading the Champions League in goals scored, with 10—the next closet player has six—the Argentina international has easily been the competition's best attacker.

    Drawing Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16, the 29-year-old has a tough challenge ahead, but if his group-stage form caries over into the games against the French champions, the Parisians will have nightmares.

    Elsewhere, an up-and-coming Bundesliga star is making a name for himself in European circles; Bayer Leverkusen's Julian Brandt has elevated his game from the first group-stage match, and his place in these rankings has risen accordingly.

    The 20-year-old can play in any outfield positing bar centre-back if required and has been deployed in multiple locations by Leverkusen boss Roger Schmidt this season. A natural right-footer, his preferred position is on the left, but in Champions League play, he's been used on the right-hand side in three of his five starts.

    Brandt is a prospect many heavyweights around Europe should covet, and Leverkusen's tie with Atletico Madrid looks another opportunity for the young German to parade his skill.

       

    Grading Scale

    Pas: Passing (graded out of 25)

    Cre: Creativity (graded out of 25)

    Fin: Finishing (graded out of 25)

    Pro: Production (graded out of 25)

    Ovr: Top possible score of 100

         

    Right Midfielder, Winger and Forward Rankings | Matchday 6
    RankPlayerClubPas Cre Fin Pro Ovr
    1Lionel MessiBarcelona 242525 25 99 
    2Riyad MahrezLeicester City22 24 242292 
    3Angel Di MariaParis Saint-Germain2321 2222 88 
    4Gareth BaleReal Madrid2223222087
    5Theo WalcottArsenal2122222186
    6Raheem Sterling Manchester City 22 22 20 21 85 
    7Ricardo QuaresmaBesiktas2121212184
    8Eduardo SalvioBenfica2220212184
    9Julian BrandtBayer Leverkusen2120212183
    10Thomas LemarAS Monaco2121202082
    11Christian Pulisic Borussia Dortmund 2022201981
    12Jose CallejonNapoli2019212181
    13Thomas Muller Bayern Munich2020 20 20 80
    14Gelson MartinsSporting CP1920192078
    15Erik LamelaTottenham Hotspur2021191878
    16Arjen RobbenBayern Munich1918181974
    17Alex Oxlade-ChamberlainArsenal1818181771
    18Franco VazquezSevilla1717171768
    19Virgil MisidjanLudogorets1615181867
    20Zoran TosicCSKA Moscow1716171666
    21Andriy YarmolenkoDynamo Kiev1617161665
    22Ibrahima TraoreBorussia Monchengladbach1716161665
    23James ForrestCeltic1615161562
    24Benjamin VerbicCopenhagen1615151561
    25Birkir BjarnasonFC Basel1515151560

     

    Notable Omissions

    • Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal
    • Juan Cuadrado, Juventus

Left Midfielders, Left-Wingers and Left-Sided Forwards

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    Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are the big names on the left flank.

    They play for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Every dribble of theirs is cheered. Every shot of theirs is a highlight. Every goal or assist of theirs is broken down into digestible segments for people to fawn over. While somewhat understandable given their level of ability and extent of their fame, they tend to unfairly overshadow others around them.

    Dries Mertens, after the sale of Gonzalo Higuain and a devastating injury to Arkadiusz Milik, has been needed to create goals for Napoli, and the Belgium international has answered manager Maurizio Sarri's call. Mertens' UCL production does not deviate tremendously from his contemporaries in Spain, but his coverage—or lack thereof—might falsely suggest a massive gulf in their necessity.

    Lucas Moura of Paris Saint-Germain, Ousmane Dembele of Borussia Dortmund and Yannick Carrasco of Atletico Madrid have been outstanding for their clubs in Champions League play. Each footballer has a differing level of expectation and experience, but his importance to his club's ambitions is unquestionable.

    Placing Ronaldo and Neymar on a pedestal is fine, but placing them there to the eventual neglect of other players in the position they share is unjust.

       

    Grading Scale

    Pas: Passing (graded out of 25)

    Cre: Creativity (graded out of 25)

    Fin: Finishing (graded out of 25)

    Pro: Production (graded out of 25)

    Ovr: Top possible score of 100

        

    Left Midfielder, Winger and Forward Rankings | Matchday 6
    RankPlayerClubPas Cre Fin Pro Ovr
    1Cristiano RonaldoReal Madrid2224242494
    2NeymarBarcelona2524202493
    3Dries MertensNapoli2323 23 24 93 
    4Lucas MouraParis Saint-Germain2323222290
    5Ousmane DembeleBorussia Dortmund2324202289
    6Yannick CarrascoAtletico Madrid2323222088
    7VitoloSevilla2122221984
    8Heung-Min SonTottenham Hotspur1921202080
    9Marc Albrighton Leicester City 2221171979
    10NolitoManchester City2018192178
    11Franck RiberyBayern Munich1920201978
    12Hakan CalhanogluBayer Leverkusen2019191977
    13Bernardo SilvaAS Monaco2020181876
    14Alex IwobiArsenal1820181975
    15OtavioFC Porto1917191772
    16AdrianoBesiktas1818191772
    17Bruno CesarSporting Lisbon19 1817 1670 
    18Youssef ToutouhCopenhagen1818161668
    19WandersonLudogorets1717171667
    20PizziBenfica1718161465
    21Renato SteffenFC Basel1617161665
    22Derlis GonzalezDynamo Kiev1716151563
    23Scott SinclairCeltic1617161463
    24Jose IzquierdoClub Brugge1516141560
    25Oscar Wendt Borussia Monchengladbach1616131459

         

    Notable Omissions

    • Douglas Costa, Bayern Munich

Strikers and Centre-Forwards

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    TF-Images/Getty Images

    Edinson Cavani, despite scoring in the first minute against Arsenal, was wretched for Paris Saint-Germain on Matchday 1. Since then, however, the Uruguayan hitman has been fairly ruthless—only Messi has more goals in the Champions League.

    Also from Group A, Alexis Sanchez had been on top of the centre-forward rankings for multiple matchdays, but Cavani's goal against Ludogorets was enough to take him ahead of Sanchez, who claimed an assist against FC Basel. Both attackers have difficult draws in the last 16—PSG face Barcelona and Arsenal tackle Bayern Munich. For each team to have a chance against stiff competition, their creative, darting goalscorers must be on form.

    Benzema and Aubameyang, from Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund respectively, helped their sides play out a 2-2 draw on Matchday 6. The Frenchman scored the opening two goals, with the Gabon international getting one back on the hour mark. Reus got the German side's leveller, but the aforementioned star men took the headlines and climbed these rankings as a result.

    Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane was the big mover after the last matchday. The Englishman found the scoresheet for the second time this season in three Champions League starts. Beating CSKA Moscow 3-1 was not enough to get Spurs into the knockout stages, but Kane's development, along with that of his team-mates, should make Pochettino a happy manager.

       

    Grading Scale

    Pas: Passing (graded out of 25)

    Cre: Creativity (graded out of 25)

    Fin: Finishing (graded out of 25)

    Pro: Production (graded out of 25)

    Ovr: Top possible score of 100

            

    Striker and Centre-Forward Rankings | Matchday 6
    RankPlayerClubPas  Cre Fin Pro Ovr
    1Edinson CavaniParis Saint-Germain2222242593
    2Alexis SanchezArsenal23 2422 23 92
    3Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Borussia Dortmund2122222287
    4Luis SuarezBarcelona2222212186
    5Robert LewandowskiBayern Munich2120232185
    6Sergio AgueroManchester City2222202084
    7Antoine GriezmannAtletico Madrid2121212083
    8Moussa DembeleCeltic2019212181
    9Gonzalo Higuain Juventus1818222280
    10Karim Benzema Real Madrid1919202179
    11Bryan RuizSporting Lisbon2021201879
    12 Goncalo Guedes Benfica1920201978
    13Dmitry PolozFC Rostov2019192078
    14Paulo Dybala Juventus2021181877
    15Maxwel CornetOlympique Lyonnais2019201877
    16Javier HernandezBayer Leverkusen 1919191875
    17 Luuk de Jong PSV Eindhoven 1918181974
    18Harry KaneTottenham Hotspur1717201973
    19Andre SilvaFC Porto1919171873
    20Andreas CorneliusCopenhagen1819181772
    21Jonathan Cafu Ludogorets1917191772
    22Vincent AboubakarBesiktas1817171870
    23Andre HahnBorussia Monchengladbach1818171669
    24Luciano ViettoSevilla1717171667
    25 Bas DostSporting Lisbon1616161664
    26Olivier Giroud Arsenal1514181663
    27Alexandre LacazetteOlympique Lyonnais1617141461
    28Islam SlimaniLeicester City 1615141661
    29Radamel FalcaoAS Monaco1315161559
    30Jamie Vardy Leicester City 1515151459

       

    Notable Omissions

    • Arkadiusz Milik, Napoli
    • Marco Reus, Borussia Dortmund
    • Alvaro Morata, Real Madrid

    Stats and transfer fees per WhoScored.comTransfermarkt and Soccerbase where not noted.