MX23RW : Wednesday, December 12 22:04:50

Champions League Team of the Week - Lionel Messi, Neymar, Paulo Dybala

Sports Mole selects its Champions League team of the week for matchday two, including three hat-trick heroes and two-goal Lionel Messi.

There were 49 goals during the second round of Champions League group games in midweek as Europe's premier club competition once again delivered.

Holders Real Madrid fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night, while fellow European giants Bayern Munich were also held by Ajax on the same evening.

There were big wins for the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Roma and Borussia Dortmund, though, while Barcelona recovered from their recent run of poor form with a thrilling 4-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.

The Spurs defeat capped off a disappointing matchday for the English clubs, with Liverpool losing late to Napoli, Manchester United once again failing to inspire in a goalless draw with Valencia and Manchester City needing a late winner against Hoffenheim.

Here, Sports Mole selects its star-studded team of the week from matchday two of the Champions League group stages.



CL TOTW MD2

The number of outstanding attacking performances this week means that the goalkeeping position is less fiercely contested. Borussia Dortmund's Roman Burki made five saves on his way to a clean sheet against Monaco, with Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer the closest competitor for a place in this team.

Burki's Dortmund teammate Manuel Akanji also earns a place in the side, having made a game-high five tackles against Monaco, and he is joined at the heart of the defence by Roma's Federico Fazio, who won more aerial duels and had a better pass completion rate than any other player on the park during the 5-0 win over Viktoria Plzen.

Ajax pulled off an impressive draw away to Bayern courtesy of Noussair Mazraoui's equaliser, and no-one on the pitch made more tackles than the right-back either. On the opposite flank it is all about attacking flair, with Jordi Alba registering three assists in Barca's win over Spurs to beat Porto's Alex Telles to a place in the team.

It is an all-Italian holding midfield lineup as Roma's Lorenzo Pellegrini and PSG's Marco Verratti are included, having each played integral roles in five-goal victories for their sides. Verratti alone registered a mammoth 10 tackles against Red Star Belgrade - five times more than anyone else on the field.

Midfield is where the competition for places in this side really hots up, with Man City match-winner David Silva, Roma's Bryan Cristante and Schalke's Weston McKennie among those to miss out, while Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic deserves a mention purely for the quality of his volley at Wembley.

It was Lionel Messi who stole the show in that match, though, with the Argentine putting in the type of performance which had fans, legends and pundits declaring him the greatest of all time once again. Messi helped himself to two goals at Wembley, but also hit the post twice and otherwise ran the show for Barcelona.

It speaks volumes for the level of attacking quality on show that Messi's performance was arguably not even the standout one of the week, though. Our front four scored 11 goals between them in this round of fixtures, and Messi was the only one of those not to bag a hat-trick.

The Argentine's old Barcelona teammate Neymar got PSG off the mark with a stunning treble against Red Star, while Paulo Dybala scored all of Juve's goals in their 3-0 win over Young Boys and also hit the woodwork in that match.

Edin Dzeko also took the matchball home in Roma's rout of Plzen, and his teammates Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert deserve mentions for the part they played in a dominant performance.

Indeed, there are a plethora of honourable mentions for the attacking positions, with Kylian Mbappe, Angel di Maria, Antoine Griezmann, Edinson Cavani, Marco Reus, Moraes and Nikola Vlasic all impressing - just not quite as much as the standout quartet selected in this very competitive week.

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Lionel Messi celebrates the opener during the Champions League group game between Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven on September 18, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool1613303462842
2Manchester CityMan City1613214593641
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs16120430161436
4Chelsea16104233132034
5Arsenal16104235201534
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd167542826226
7Everton166642319424
8Bournemouth167272526-123
9Leicester CityLeicester166462120122
10Wolverhampton WanderersWolves166461719-222
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham166372325-221
12Watford166372023-321
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton166371922-321
14Cardiff CityCardiff1642101530-1514
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle163491322-913
16Crystal Palace1633101323-1012
17Burnley1633101532-1712
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield1624101027-1710
19Southampton161691330-179
20Fulham1623111640-249

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