MX23RW : Wednesday, November 14 05:30:07

Champions League Team of the Week - Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Nabil Fekir

Sports Mole selects its Champions League team of the week from matchday one of the group stages, including Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba and Nabil Fekir.

The 2018-19 Champions League began in fitting fashion on Tuesday when Lionel Messi scored the opening goal of the tournament with a stunning free kick - the first of a hat-trick which earns him star billing in the team of the week for matchday one.

Barcelona's 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven was the biggest of the opening round, but there were also notable victories for fellow European giants Bayern Munich, holders Real Madrid and Juventus, the latter of whom overcame the sending-off of Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Valencia at the Mestalla.

The English clubs endured mixed fortunes, with Liverpool striking late to earn a deserved win over Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United cruising to a 3-0 triumph over Young Boys in Switzerland.

Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City both began their campaigns with defeats, though, as Spurs capitulated late on to lose to Inter Milan at San Siro before pre-tournament favourites City were stunned at home by Lyon.

Here, Sports Mole picks its team of the week from matchday one of Europe's premier club competition.



CL TOTW MD1

Ronaldo's red card left Juventus with a mountain to climb at the Mestalla, but a sturdy defensive performance and two penalties from Miralem Pjanic ensured their victory. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was crucial to their clean sheet, saving a penalty late on and making six stops throughout the match. Milan Borjan of Red Star Belgrade also deserves a mention, having made seven stops to keep Napoli at bay.

Szczesny is one of three Juventus players to make the team, alongside right-back Joao Cancelo and centre-back Leonardo Bonucci. No Juve player made more tackles or won more aerial duels than Cancelo, while Bonucci used every ounce of his experience to steer his depleted side to all three points in Spain.

The likes of Sergi Roberto and Dani Carvajal are honourable mentions at right-back, while Giorgio Chiellini, Felipe and Abdou Diallo were all in the running for a place at the heart of the defence, but the second centre-back spot goes to Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez, who scored the winning goal against Monaco as the Stade Louis II.

There are no doubts as to who fills the left-back slot, with Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico scoring twice for the Dutch outfit and keeping a clean sheet in their 3-0 win over AEK Athens. Marcel Schmelzer and David Alaba also played well, but neither seriously threatened Tagliafico's place in the team.

Paul Pogba was the star of the show during United's win over Young Boys, registering two goals and an assist on the artificial pitch while wearing the captain's armband. Alongside him in midfield is Galatasaray's Fernando, who did not pick up any goals or assists of his own but was instrumental in his side's 3-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow.

There was plenty of competition for midfield places, with Real Madrid duo Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in contention alongside the indefatigable James Milner, while further forward the likes of Isco, Christian Eriksen and Antoine Griezmann all deserve honourable mentions.

Lionel Messi's record-breaking eighth Champions League hat-trick earns him an immediate place in the side, while his Barcelona teammate Ousmane Dembele was also on the scoresheet against PSV with a fine solo effort. Arguably the shock of the round came at the Etihad Stadium, where Nabil Fekir was instrumental in Lyon's win over Man City with a goal and an assist.

A less familiar name leads the star-studded lineup, but Michal Krmencik's brace earned Viktoria Plzen a point against CSKA Moscow as he became the first Czech player to score two goals in a Champions League game since Pavel Nedved in September 2003.

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Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo leaves the field in tears after being sent off during his side's Champions League clash with Valencia on September 19, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City1210203653132
2Liverpool129302351830
3Chelsea128402781928
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs1290320101027
5Arsenal1273226151124
6Bournemouth126242116520
7Watford126241714320
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd126242021-120
9Everton125431915419
10Leicester CityLeicester125251716117
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves124441213-116
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124261318-514
13West Ham UnitedWest Ham123361418-412
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle12237915-69
15Burnley122371225-139
16Crystal Palace12228817-98
17Southampton12156821-138
18Cardiff CityCardiff122281125-148
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield12147622-167
20Fulham121291131-205

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