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Champions League Team of the Week - Lionel Messi, Jorginho, Bruno Fernandes

Sports Mole selects its Team of the Week from matchweek three of the Champions League, including Lionel Messi, Jorginho and Bruno Fernandes.

Matchweek three of the 2021-22 Champions League is done and dusted, with reigning champions Chelsea keeping the pressure on perfect Juventus in Group H with a 4-0 thrashing of Malmo.

Paris Saint-Germain were given a scare by RB Leipzig in Group A but ultimately ran out 3-2 winners, while Manchester City enjoyed a comprehensive 5-1 thrashing of Club Brugge.

In Group B, an enthralling clash between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid saw the Reds claim a 3-2 victory, while Porto kept the pressure on the La Liga champions with a 1-0 win over an injury-hit and pointless AC Milan.

Ajax produced one of the results of the round with a 4-0 drubbing of Borussia Dortmund to remain perfect in Group C, while Sporting Lisbon marched to a 4-1 success over basement boys Besiktas.

Sheriff Tiraspol's perfect start to life in Group D came to an end with a 3-1 defeat to Inter Milan, as Real Madrid put five unanswered goals past Shakhtar Donetsk.

Barcelona finally claimed their first win in Group E at the third attempt with an unconvincing 1-0 success over Dynamo Kiev, while a late Bayern Munich rally saw them sink Benfica 4-0.

Manchester United were indebted to old hero Cristiano Ronaldo during a remarkable 3-2 comeback win over Atalanta BC, and Villarreal's first triumph came against BSC Young Boys 4-1.

Finally, Red Bull Salzburg retained top spot in Group G by beating Wolfsburg 3-1, with Lille and Sevilla playing out a drab goalless stalemate.

Here, Sports Mole takes on the unenviable task of whittling down the round's best performers to an 11-man Team of the Week.


DEFENCE

Gerard Pique celebrates scoring for Barcelona in October 2021© Reuters

Not a single fan in the Stade Pierre-Mauroy enjoyed value for money during Lille's drab encounter with Sevilla, but Ivo Grbic was instrumental in preserving a point for his side. The Dogues shot-stopper made a total of five saves on the day - including a full-stretch fingertip stop to keep out Lucas Ocampos's strike in the first half.

Barcelona were hardly on top form in their clash with Dynamo Kiev either, and a defensive player was also their standout performer in matchweek three. With 36 minutes played, Gerard Pique produced a striker's finish at the back post to score the game's only goal, and he also won six of his seven aerial duels while posting a 96% pass accuracy.

Another goalscoring defender to feature in this TOTW enjoyed possibly the most memorable opening 30 minutes of his career so far, as Sporting Lisbon's Sebastian Coates produced two bullet headers from two corners to set his side on their way to a romping success over Besiktas while also making three clearances, three interceptions and two tackles.

The final member of our three-man backline is another wise old head of the game in Daley Blind, who was instrumental in Ajax's dominant win over Dortmund with a goal and an assist on the night, but the equally impressive Lisandro Martinez gave him a close run for his money.



MIDFIELD

Paris Saint-Germain's (PSG) Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their third goal on October 19, 2021© Reuters

Kylian Mbappe may have scooped the man of the match award for his performance against Leipzig, but take nothing away from Lionel Messi's contribution. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner had ice running through his veins as he stepped up to tuck away the game-winning Panenka penalty - his second on the night - while he also won eight ground duels and completed seven successful dribbles.

Typically classy in the Parisiens midfield in midweek, Messi's teammate Marco Verratti was pulling the strings in the engine room and was another star of the show against Leipzig. With four successful dribbles, 11 ground duels won, five clearances, three blocks and three tackles, the Euro 2020 winner is simply unplayable on his day.

Another continental champion with the Azzurri partners Verratti in the midfield this week, as Chelsea lynchpin Jorginho did not only convert two penalties in a thrashing of Malmo, but he posted a whopping eight tackles, eight ground duels won and an 88% pass success rate in an all-action display.

Bayern Munich left it late to produce a typically dominant showing against Benfica, and Leroy Sane was instrumental in his side's late rally in Lisbon. The ex-Manchester City man claimed two goals and one assist in a 15-minute flurry - including a pinpoint free kick - and 92% of his passes came off on the night.

Completing the midfield quintet, Bruno Fernandes did not make all the headlines after United's thrilling comeback win over Atalanta, but the silky Portuguese playmaker oozed class with a sublime outside-of-the-boot assist for Marcus Rashford's goal, and he posted a staggering nine key passes, created three big chances and won nine of his 11 ground duels at Old Trafford.



ATTACK

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior celebrates scoring their second goal against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on October 19, 2021© Reuters

As West Ham United's Michail Antonio is forced to shoulder most of the attacking burden in the English capital, ex-Hammer Sebastien Haller is loving life at Ajax. The Champions League's top scorer had a hand in three of his side's four goals against Dortmund - bagging one of his own and providing two assists - while he won all six of his aerial duels and continues to lead the way in the goalscoring charts with six strikes to his name now.

Finally, there was a case for Karim Benzema to earn a spot in this XI, but the Frenchman is just edged out by his Blancos teammate Vinicius Junior, whose magnificent solo goal against Shakhtar capped off a stellar display for the young Brazilian, who finally appears to be coming into his own under Carlo Ancelotti.


SPORTS MOLE'S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TEAM OF THE WEEK

CL TOTW MD3

Sports Mole's Champions League Team of the Week (3-4-1-2): Grbic; Pique, Coates, Blind; Messi, Jorginho, Verratti, Sane; Fernandes; Haller, Vinicius Jr


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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City1511223292335
2Liverpool15104144123234
3Chelsea1510323592633
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham158342819927
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs148151617-125
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd157352524124
7Arsenal157261822-423
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves156361213-121
9Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton154831416-220
10Aston Villa156182124-319
11Leicester CityLeicester155462327-419
12Everton155371925-618
13Brentford154561921-217
14Crystal Palace153751921-216
15Leeds UnitedLeeds153751522-716
16Southampton153751421-716
17Watford1541102029-913
18Burnley141761421-710
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle151771730-1310
20Norwich CityNorwich15249831-2310

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