European Team of the Week: Lionel Messi and Mario Mandzukic Lead by Example

WhoScored@@WhoScoredFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2015

BILBAO, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 08:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona reacts during the La Liga match between Athletic Club and FC Barcelona at San Mames Stadium onÊ February 8, 2015 in Bilbao, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Lionel Messi is WhoScored.com’s European Player of the Week this week.

Barcelona’s star directly contributed to three of the Blaugrana’s goals in their 5-2 win over Athletic Club on Sunday evening, with his two assists and one goal helping to attain a rating of 9.74, along with the Man of the Match award.

With five key passes and four successful dribbles over the 90 minutes, the Argentine was a constant offensive threat to the Athletic back line.

Marcell Jansen stars on the opposite flank, following impressive back-to-back outings for Hamburg against Paderborn and Hannover. Two goals in his two matches helped him to successive Man of the Match awards and an average rating of 8.88.

A combined total of five successful dribbles contributed to his impressive rating, but it was the defensive side of his game that stood out. Over 180 minutes, Jansen made seven tackles, five interceptions and five clearances.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07:  Nigel Pearson, manager of Leicester City exchanges words with James McArthur of Crystal Palace during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium on February 7, 2
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

An all Premier League pairing makes up the rest of the midfield, with Chris Brunt partnering James McArthur in the middle of the park.

Brunt played a crucial role for West Brom after they came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Turf Moor on Sunday. The 30-year-old netted on the stroke of half-time to halve the deficit before turning provider for Brown Ideye to draw the Baggies level. Brunt also played three key passes in the stalemate, while his seven clearances helped West Brom come away with a point.

McArthur’s weekend will be memorable because of his altercation with Leicester boss Nigel Pearson, but he played an influential role in Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium. The 27-year-old put in a notable defensive shift, making four tackles, nine interceptions and six clearances as the Eagles came away with a clean sheet and all three points.

Perhaps the shock result of the weekend came at the Vicente Calderon, where a rampant Atletico Madrid put La Liga table-toppers Real Madrid to the sword to come away with a 4-0 win. Mario Mandzukic churned out a Man of the Match display for Los Rojiblancos, leading the line with aplomb for Diego Simeone’s side.

The Croat provided the assist for Tiago to set Atletico on their way after 13 minutes before capping off a commendable display with a goal in the dying embers of the Madrid Derby.

Mandzukic was a real handful for the Madrid back line, winning five aerial duels in the victory, while his impressive work off the ball will have appeased Simeone. With five tackles to his name, the 28-year-old did not give makeshift centre-back pairing Raphael Varane and Nacho a moment's rest in the encounter.

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 07: Mario Mandzukic of Atletico de Madrid wins the header before Daniel Carvajal of Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid CF at Vicente Calderon Stadium on February 7, 2015 in Madr
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

David Barral partners with Mandzukic this week. The Spaniard bagged a hat-trick for Levante as they romped to a 4-1 win over Malaga, ending their run of nine games without a win. All three of Barral’s shots on target found the back of the net as he led the line impressively to help his side secure a crucial victory in their battle to stave off relegation.

Midfielder by trade Cheikhou Kouyate stars at centre-back in WhoScored.com’s European Team of the Week. West Ham came perilously close to securing a morale-boosting win over Manchester United on Sunday evening, with Kouyaté central to a nigh-on-perfect defensive showing against the former champions.

The Senegal international netted a superb opener for the Hammers and put in a noteworthy shift in an unfamiliar position alongside James Tomkins.

Kouyate limited Falcao and Robin van Persie’s influence commendably, making three tackles, one of which was a last-man tackle. When factoring in an interception, 13 clearances, five aerial duels won and a 90 percent pass success rate, the 25-year-old was deserving of the Man of the Match award and a place in the Team of the Week.

Ragnar Klavan partners Kouyate at the heart of the defence. The Estonian landed back-to-back Man of the Match awards following determined defensive performances for Augsburg against Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Having lost defensive partner Christoph Janker following his red card just after the hour mark at Dortmund, Klavan kept his calm to lead by example as Augsburg secured all three points and a clean sheet.

Klavan then followed up his display at the Westfalonstadion with the opener in the 2-2 draw with Frankfurt, while his clearance off the line ensured the Fuggerstadter came away with a positive result. All in all, the Estonia international won 14 aerial duels over the two games and made two tackles, six interceptions and 23 clearances to earn an average rating of 8.52.

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Míchel Macedo features at right-back this week on the back of an impressive showing for Almeria. The 24-year-old netted a second-half brace from both of his shots on goal in the space of five minutes to help his side come from behind to overcome Cordoba 2-1.

Two tackles, one interception and three clearances helped his side come away from the Estadio Nuevo Arcangel with their third league win from their last five away games.

Wendell rounds out the defence this week after his displays against Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen earned him an average rating of 8.12 over the two fixtures. Wendell registered an assist from the two games from just three key passes, while a combined total of nine tackles, 13 interceptions and six clearances exhibited the defensive side of his game.

Jonas Lossl completes WhoScored.com’s European Team of the Week. The young Dane was on hand to make five saves and claim two crosses in Guingamp’s impressive 1-0 win over Monaco. Guingamp have finally found some form in Ligue 1 and Lossl’s performance at the weekend was the latest in a long line of fine displays that have helped Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side move up the table.

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team rankings.

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