Finally being able to watch the UEFA Champions League in full this week, has inspired me to do a Team of the Week for this week in the world’s greatest club tournament. As per usual in a typical UEFA Champions League group stage phase weeks, there were several blowout victories. However, this week’s Team of the Week has still managed to all sorts of players coming from all sorts of different teams. This is The Mastermind‘s Team of the Week for Gameweek 3 in the UEFA Champions League.
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon
Has there ever been a player in the history of football who has performed at such a high level for so long? Gianluigi Buffon has been doing it for Juventus ever since he was 21 and even before that was a regular in Parma’s Serie A side from the age of 17. Now at the age of 38 he is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world and exemplified that with an incredible performance on Tuesday night in Juve’s 1-0 win over Lyon. The Italian goalkeeper made 4 saves including one stunning penalty save, dominated his area with 5 cross claims (100% that came his way) and completed 85% of his passes to help his side hold on to a narrow victory over the French side. Gianluigi Buffon is not only one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time but at the age of 38 is still one of the very best in the world today and is one of just a few world class goalkeepers left in the world. Rating: 9.5/10.
Right Back: Miguel Layun
Miguel Layun is one of the best fullbacks in the world. Have no idea who he is? Miguel Layun is a Mexican international who used to play as a midfielder for Watford FC until he caught the eye of FC Porto and was converted into a fullback. Now he is playing in the UEFA Champions League for Portugal’s greatest ever club side and is developing into one of the very best right-sided defenders in the world. Porto’s Tuesday night performance illustrated that notion as Miguel Layun stole the show from a defensive perspective and ran the show from an offensive perspective. The Mexican defender had 101 touches on the ball, 3 shots on target, created 4 chances, whipped in six crosses and scored the goal that got the Dragons back in to the match. He also completed 3 tackles, 3 interceptions and 3 clearances, winning the majority of his battles down that right side and help his side keep the score at 1-1 until they were eventually able to go on and win the match in the final minute. Miguel Layun is a phenomenal defender and is perhaps even FC Porto’s best player as they look to make it past the Group Stage. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Back: Samuel Umtiti
French defender Samuel Umtiti caught the eye of Barcelona after shining for France at Euro 2016 and has had a brilliant start to his career in Spain including another fantastic performance on Wednesday night against Manchester City. Samuel Umtiti was just constantly in the way of everything Manchester City tried to create, playing a massive role in helping his side keep a clean sheet and claim a 3-0 victory over Pep Guardiola’s side. The French defender won 100% of his duels in the air, made 2 interceptions, 3 blocks and 5 clearances, never missing a beat and never allowing Sergio Aguero any space to work with. Samuel Umtiti has had an excellent start to his Barcelona career and had another phenomenal performance against last year’s semi finalists Manchester City. Rating: 8.5/10.
Left Back: Kieran Gibbs
Kieran Gibbs was finally given his chance to show his stuff in Arsenal’s side in their UEFA Champions League match against Ludogorets and hardly put a foot wrong as his side cruised to a 6-0 win. Gibbs was excellent defensively making 3 interceptions, 5 clearances and 6 tackles, while also featuring fairly prominently for the Gunners in the attack, whipping in two crosses with 91% of his passes completed. Kieran Gibbs had an excellent match against Ludogorets and will be unfortunate to lose his place next week to Nacho Monreal. Rating: 8/10.
Defensive Midfield: Julian Weigl
Julian Weigl is as calm and composed on the ball as a twenty-one-year old could possibly be. He is so cool in possession and always able to find holes, create space and disrbitue the perfect pass. The 21-year old German did all of those things on Tuesday night and more in Borussia Dortmund’s 2-1 victory over Sporting Lisbon, scoring his team’s winning goal to help them climb to the top of the pile in the group standings. In typical Julian Weigl fashion, the German had 94 touches on the ball on Tuesday night, completed 82 passes, made 2 tackles, won 2 dribbles, 4 duels in the air and in atypical Weigl fashion, scored a goal, his first ever as a professional footballer. It was another colossal performance from Julian Weigl against Sporting Lisbon as he continues to build his reputation as one of the most complete midfielders in the world. Rating: 9/10.
Centre Midfield: Marco Asensio
With all the injuries to Real Madrid’s starting 11 at the moment, Spanish midfielder Marco Asensio was deservedly given his chance to play in his first ever UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and was their best performer as Los Blancos walked to a 5-1 win over Legia Warszawa. The central midfielder had 4 shots in the match, 2 of which were on target, created 2 chances, completed 94% of his passes, 100% of his tackles and had 88 touches on the ball, helping Madrid dominate the match and secure an incredible victory. It was an incredible performance from Marco Asensio in his first ever UEFA Champions League match and if he can somehow work his way into this star-studded Real Madrid side and earn regular playing time he could soon be thought of as one of the best midfielders in the world. Rating: 9/10.
Attacking Midfield: Mesut Ozil
Any time Arsenal thrash their opposition it is almost a guarantee that Mesut Ozil is in someway involved and that fact was true again in Arsenal’s 6-0 thrashing over Ludogorets, as he scored three goals and notched an assist. The German midfielder was integral to Arsenal’s build-up play and chance creation throughout the match as he almost always is, creating 2 chances, putting in 6 crosses and making a total of 53 passes. On top of that he was highly productive and efficient as demonstrated by his superb second half hatrick and first half assist and he continues to be Arsenal’s best player as they hope to make it further in the UEFA Champions League this season than they ever have before. Rating: 10/10.
Attacking Midfield: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
What started out as a decent night for Arsenal turned into an amazing night as Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain ran the show and took full advantage of the opportunity he was given to start the match, helping his side claim a 6-0 victory. The Arsenal midfielder scored a goal, assisted another and passed the ball to the person giving the assist on two other occasions. The English winger was buzzing around like a bee on Wednesday night, just giving Ludogorets such a headache, stretching them out before cutting inside and playing killer passes for a teammate to score. Chamberlain had his best performance of the season as Arsenal cruised to a 6-0 victory and could not have performed any better. Rating: 10/10.
Right Wing: Lionel Messi
It is probably no shock to you that Lionel Messi features in this week’s Champions League Team of the Week as pretty much anytime the Argentinean attacker is playing you can be assured that goals and a team of the week worthy appearance will follow. Messi was brilliant on Wednseday night against Manchester City and directly contributed to all four goals, scoring three and assisting the other to carry his side to a 4-0 win against their old manager. It was the complete performance from Messi as he created 4 chances, completed 5 dribbles, scored from all three of his shots on target, won a penalty that was eventually missed by Neymar and ran the show for Barcelona going forward leading them to victory. Imagine a Barcelona-Manchester City match without Lionel Messi and then maybe this one ends goalless, but with the Argentinean in Luis Enrique’s team a win was almost a guarantee. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Forward: Vincent Aboubakar
Powerful centre forward Vincent Aboubakar leads the line in The Mastermind‘s UCL Team of the Week with a commanding performance in Besiktas’ 3-2 win over Napoli, stopping the Italian giants from qualifying and propelling his side to second in the table. The Cameroonian striker was a massive force that the Italian side’s defenders just could not cope with, scoring two goals, completing 4 dribbles and winning his side the match with his mobility and goal scoring touch. It’s not the type of performance to make Aboubakar into a household name in the world of football but it is enough to win him his first team of the week appearance of this season’s Champions League. Rating: 9/10.
Left Wing: Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo only just last week made his first La Liga Team of the Week appearance of the season for his one goal, one assist performance in Real’s 6-1 win over Real Madrid and has now made his first Champions League Team of the Week of the season with another two-assist performance this time against Legia Warszawa. The Polish side were never going to beat the Spanish giants but Ronaldo made sure that his team annihilated their opposition. The Portuguese winger had 5 total shots, created 3 chances and completed 91% of his passes to help Real Madrid win by a massive score of 5-1. Real Madrid are one of the favourites to win this year’s tournament and they and Ronaldo will have to carry on like this if they are going to become the first ever repeat champions. Rating: 9/10.
Just Missed Out: Joshua Kimmich (Centre-Midfield)
Joshua Kimmich’s scoring run stopped being a fluke a while ago but it still amazes the whole world of football that he, a defensive minded player, is one of the team’s top scorers this season. Joshua Kimmich just can’t stop scoring at the moment and netted once again against Dutch side PSV Eindhoven to help his side claim a massive 4-1 victory. On top of his goal and commanding performance from midfield, Kimmich also completed 95% of his passes for a total of 101 passes, had 112 touches on the ball, and had 3 shots on target as Bayern blew away PSV Eindhoven. The 21-year old is a rising star in the game and if he continues on like this, will be so much more than just the next Philipp Lahm as everyone is calling him, he could be the next Phillipp Lahm and the next Bastian Schweinsteiger at the same time, he is at that versatile. Rating: 8.5/10.
Substitutes: Hugo Lloris, Laurent Koscielny, Joshua Kimmich, Andre Hahn, Arjen Robben, Alexis Sanchez, Edinson Cavani
Player of the Week: Lionel Messi
On Wednesday night, Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick against his old manager and led his side to a massive three-nil victory over what is arguably England’s best team. It wasn’t even as if Lionel Messi was particularly ruthless by his standards on Wednesday night, he was just in the right place at the right time and finished off any glorious chance that he was given to help lead his side to victory. Due to the difficulty of the opposition and the immense role he had in winning his team the match, Lionel Messi just narrowly edges out another three goal-one assist performer Mesut Ozil to win this week’s Player of the Week. For any other player this would be one of the best performances of their career but for Lionel Messi it was simply just another day at the office.
Honourable Mention: Mesut Ozil
Well that does it for this week’s UEFA Champions League Team of the Week! Hope you and enjoyed and hope to see you on Monday for Gameweek 9’s Team of the Week in the English Premier League.
- Fun fact, 3 of these players also featured in The Mastermind’s Top 15 Under-21 Footballers In The World List.