MX23RW : Tuesday, February 19 09:42:56

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
1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
2Liverpool26205159154465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs26200654252960
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
5Arsenal26155653371650
6Chelsea26155645291650
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2611693433139
8Watford2610793434037
9Everton2796123639-333
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113239-733
11Bournemouth26103133747-1033
12Leicester CityLeicester2695123134-332
13Crystal Palace2676132734-727
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
15Burnley2676132947-1827
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2667132234-1225
17Cardiff CityCardiff2674152447-2325
18Southampton2659122844-1624
19Fulham2645172558-3317
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2625191448-3411

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