What an amazing week of UEFA Champions League fixtures. February 21st and 22nd saw one of the best games you’d ever see in your life as Manchester City narrowly edged out AS Monaco by a score of 5-3 and the other three games also all had incredible moments of action. Through all the enthralling fixtures there were some standout players and these are the best of the bunch. This is the Team of the Week for this week’s matches in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. Enjoy!
Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel bailed Leicester City out of jail on so many occasions on Wednesday night against Sevilla and was instrumental in keeping the score down to just 2-1. The Leicester City goalkeeper wasn’t just the Foxes best player, he might have been the best player on the pitch, constantly coming up with big saves to keep the score down. Not only did Kasper save a penalty from Joaquin Correa, he also palmed away four other shots, some that looked destined to hit the back of the net. Ranieri’s side were dreadful in defense throughout the match and lacked a lot of organization against the side from Seville. So if it hadn’t been for Kasper’s quick reflexes and excellent positional sense, Leicester would have been destroyed in this match. The Danish goalkeeper has probably been Leicester’s best player this season and put in a near man of the match performance as the Foxes can now go into the second leg with a relative amount of confidence. Rating: 9.5/10.
Right Back: Sime Vrsaljko
Sime Vrsaljko has had a key role to play in Atletico Madrid’s lineup in the absence of the injured Juanfran and was phenomenal on Tuesday night in helping Simeone’s side claim a 4-2 win. Vrsaljko was a key provider of chances during the match for Atletico, completing all 3 of the crosses he attempted and assisting one goal. But he was also amazing in Atletico’s incredibly organized defense, making 6 tackles, 2 interceptions and 5 clearances! The Croatian defender is unlikely to keep his place in the side forever but for now is filling the void left by Juanfran wonderfully well and making a massive difference for Simeone’s team. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Back: Adil Rami
Adil Rami is one of the most underrated defenders in world football. His defensive awareness is incredible and everything he does is timed to perfection. Rami completely tamed Jamie Vardy in Sevilla’s 2-1 victory over Leicester, making life so much more difficult for the English international and completely dominating every single 1v1 battle they engaged in. The Frenchman was a beast in the air, winning all of his aerial duels and even hitting the crossbar from his only attempted shot in the match, a header that almost found its way in. Rami also made 2 incredibly timed tackles, 2 interceptions, blocked 2 shots and made 4 clearances while always ushering away danger from the likes of Vardy and later on Demarai Gray. Adil Rami is an incredibly underrated defender and is certainly one of Sevilla’s most important players as they look to win a European tournament for the fourth straight time. Rating: 8.5/10.
Left Back: Alex Sandro
There were several standout left backs in the UEFA Champions League this week from rising Sevilla star Sergio Escudero to the always impressive Filipe Luis but Alex Sandro tops the pile, not for the first time this season. Sandro was magnificent against FC Porto on Wednesday and was Massimiliano Allegri’s best player as The Old Lady claimed a calm 2-0 victory. Sandro was a constant presence and threat for the Italian side down that left-flank, touching the ball 111 times and delivering 11 crosses, one of which found the foot of Dani Alves for Juve’s second goal of the night. His wonderful crossing ability and exploitation of space for Juve also resulted in him creating 4 chances, more than any other player on the field. As expected Sandro also stuck to his defensive tasks well, making 4 tackles (again more than any other player) and completing 2 interceptions. Alex Sandro has established himself this season as one of the best left-backs in the world and is currently tearing it up with Juventus in the UEFA Champions League and Serie A alike. Rating: 9.5/10.
Defensive Midfield: Fabinho
Fabinho has been AS Monaco’s most impressive player this season and he just continues to impress, even against one of Europe’s elite teams. Coming up against a Manchester City midfield that included Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Yaya Toure, this was supposed to be a very tough evening for the 23-year old Monaco men. But the Brazilian proved exactly why he is one of Europe’s finest midfielders with his performance on Tuesday as De Bruyne, Silva and Toure could not get into the game. De Bruyne in particular looked absolutely lifeless at times and Fabinho with the help of his sidekick Tiemoue Bakayogo limited the Belgian to just 51 touches. The AS Monaco man is normally key to Monaco’s team for his goal-scoring prowess from the spot, tough tackling nature and impeccable defensive awareness but in this match showed a different part of this game, becoming the provider. Fabinho assisted both of Monaco’s first half-goals; the first with an amazing cross right on to the diving head of Radamel Falcao and the second from a ball over the top of the heads of the City defenders which Mbappe-Lottin ran onto in a flash and slotted home. Fabinho is not normally such an incredible play-maker of goals but with two assists against Pep Guardiola’s team, showed a different side to his game that has not often been seen this season. With assists now clearly a part of his repertoire, Fabinho is not just becoming one of Europe’s finest midfielders but is proving that he already at that level. Rating: 9/10.
Right Wing: Raheem Sterling
Full of pace, vibrancy and energy, Raheem Sterling ensured that Benjamin Mendy had an absolute shocker at left-back in Manchester City’s 5-3 win over AS Monaco. The British winger has been in fine form this season and looked sublime in this match, allowing the Citizens to play with a great amount of width, pace and power, particularly on the counter attack. His all-round play was massive for Pep Guardiola’s team and with another goal and assist to his name he continues to prove why he has arguably been the manager’s best player this season. Sterling also won 3 take-on’s to give the aforementioned Mendy all sorts of problems and completed 93% of his passes, doing what Guardiola likes best and helping to keep possession for his team. Raheem Sterling has been in incredible form this season and had an amazing game to possibly end Monaco’s hopes at advancing to the next round. Rating: 9.5/10.
Attacking Midfield: Saul Niguez
Saul Niguez first started to gain worldwide attention for his performances in the UEFA Champions League this time last year and is continuing to perform to his best in the tournament this season. The Atletico Madrid midfielder had a superb performance in this week’s Round of 16 encounter against Bayer Leverkusen, scoring a stunning goal and helping lead Atletico to a massive 4-2 victory over the German team. Niguez was magnificent in the air, winning 7 aerial duels and was also key in defense tracking back to win 6 tackles! That wasn’t all though, Saul also made 3 interceptions, 3 clearances and he had more touches on the ball (75) than any other Atletico Madrid player. Saul Niguez is just so key to the way Atletico Madrid play in the UEFA Champions League and with a fantastic performance at both ends of the pitch on Tuesday night was instrumental in their 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen. Rating: 9.5/10.
Left Wing: Leroy Sane
Several stars attempted to steal the show in Manchester City’s massive 5-3 win over AS Monaco, but Leroy Sane might just have been the brightest star in the sky. The German winger was impeccable whenever he found the ball at his feet and gave Djibril Sidibe an absolute nightmare down that left-hand side. Sidibe has earned a reputation as one of the finest fullbacks in France this season but after Sane put on a clinic against him this week, Bacary Sagna might be staying in the French National Team for a little while longer. Sane just made the 24-year old defender look absolutely silly and it was the German’s best performance in a Manchester City shirt as he assisted City’s first goal and then scored the final goal of the game. Sane also completed 91% of his passes, created 2 chances and always looked like City’s liveliest attacker. It was a phenomenal performance from the young German international in this thrilling Champions League encounter and one that might have just taken Manchester City into the next round. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Kevin Gameiro
Kevin Gameiro was pivotal in Sevilla’s Europa League winning campaign last season and is playing a crucial role in Atletico Madrid’s quest to finally lift the trophy this season. The French forward has been phenomenal for Diego Simeone’s side so far this season and put in amazing performance on Tuesday against Bayer Leverkusen. Gameiro in fact was Atletico’s key man, scoring a goal and assisting another with a wonderful piece of individual skill. In the whole of the match, Gameiro created 2 chances, completed 3 take-on’s and had 3 shots, teaming up with Griezmann wonderfully well and leading the line brilliantly for Simeone’s side. The 29-year old forward has never had any difficulty finding the back of the net throughout his career and had no trouble at all in causing Bayer Leverkusen all sorts of problems at the back; ruthlessly punishing their mistakes and leading the Red & Whites to victory. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Forward: Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero is back! Once the Argentinean gets one goal more are always soon to follow and that is exactly what happened on Tuesday night. City were down by 3 goals to 2 until Aguero found the back of the net thanks to a bit of poor goalkeeping from Danijel Subasic but it was his goal that lifted the spirits of the Sky Blues and allowed them to take control of the game. From that point on, City were the dominating force and would go on to score two more goals, one of which was a stunning volley from the Argentinean striker. Leading the line brilliantly well, he also assisted Leroy Sane’s goal and did excellently well to win what should have been a penalty until the referee called it the other way. Thanks to a horrible injury to Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero is back in the team and back amongst the goals again. Despite missing out on a few recent matches, his role in Pep Guardiola’s team is still absolutely critical as without him this match would have been a very different story. Rating 9.5/10.
Striker: Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao is well and truly back to his best again. The Colombian forward had a torrid time in England with both Manchester United and Chelsea but is back to his uncontrollable goal-scoring self again with AS Monaco this season. Falcao was magnificent against Manchester City and his performance will leaving Premier League fans around the world scratching their heads as to why he couldn’t perform to that level in his time in England. Falcao was Monaco’s key man in the match, scoring two outrageous goals. He first capitalized on a mistake from John Stones with an amazing bit of movement and a diving header to draw Monaco level, putting the game at 1-1. But then later on in the match he made things 3-2 for the Ligue 1 side with an amazing run and bit of skill to make John Stones look foolish before chipping the ball past goalkeeper Willy Caballero who looked equally foolish. Falcao was just all over this match, winning a penalty, scoring goals, making like difficult for Stones and Otamendi and at times looking ready to lead The Red & Whites into the next round. Even if Manchester City managed to grab the win in the end, it was an incredibly hard-fought performance from Monaco and the man who led the charge was undoubtedly Radamel Falcao. Rating: 9.5/10.
Substitutes: Mariano, Sergio Escudero, Alex Sandro, Steven N’Zonzi, Miralem Pjanic, Kylian Mbappe-Lottin, Antoine Griezmann
Player of the Week: Sergio Aguero
Leroy Sane was probably the best player on the pitch in Manchester City’s 5-3 win over AS Monaco, but Aguero with two goals and an assist was the most influential. The Argentinean striker is the main reason why Manchester City now look set to advance to the next round and the game would have been very different if his presence had not graced the field. With two goals, an assit and a performance to remember, Sergio Aguero is this week’s Player of the Week!
So there it is! The Team of the Week in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 for the fixtures on February 21st and February 22nd. Like what you read? Click the follow button for more articles like this every single week and make sure to check out where players like Falcao, Aguero and Sterling all stand in our latest Top 200 Footballers in the World list.