The UEFA Champions League semi-finals have officially come to a close with Juventus and Real Madrid unsurprisingly but still amazingly, advancing to the next round. Both teams were just absolutely unstoppable in the semi-finals and now it makes for a very intriguing final matchup. But without further ado, it is time for our second of two Team of the Weeks for the round. To check out the first click here -> UCL Team of the Week (May 2-3). These are the eleven best players for the second-leg fixtures of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas
Keylor Navas couldn’t prevent his team from losing on Wednesday night, but he still played amazingly well, making 5 stunning saves to keep Atletico out on several occasions. He has often been criticized this season and his spot in the team may be handed on a silver platter to David De Gea next season but Keylor Navas is still one heck of a goalkeeper. Five saves and easily the best goalkeeper of the round. Rating: 8.5/10.
Right Back: Dani Alves
Somehow at 34 years of age, Dani Alves is still the best right-back in the world. If you had asked me my opinion on Dani Alves at the start of the season I would have told you he was starting to fade away and that his move to Juventus was a bit of a signal that his best times have come and gone. But the exact opposite has turned out to be true. The Brazilian looks just as fit as ever before and his role in the Juventus team has been immense, contributing to all four goals they scored in the two legs against Monaco. Alves assisted Mandzukic’s first goal of the night to take his tally up to three assists for the round alone and then hammered home a stunning volley from a long-way out to make the game 2-0. On top of getting forward to whip in five crosses and create three chances, the 34-year old also impressed in defense, making 6 tackles! Dani Alves really is just the complete fullback and with the way he’s going at Juventus this season he just shows no signs of slowing down whatsoever. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Back: Giorgio Chiellini
How good has Giorgio Chiellini been in the UEFA Champions League this season for Juventus. He’s just been immaculate for The Old Lady and is really establishing himself as possibly one of the three or four best centre backs in the world. Chiellini came up with several important interventions for his team against AS Monaco including what seemed like a nearly impossible clearance away when sliding right in front of his own net to clear the ball away from the toe of Falcao. The Italian defender made 5 clearances in total, slightly higher than his fantastic tally of 3 blocked shots and 3 duels won in the air. Giorgio Chiellini has just been incredible this season for Juventus and really truly is one of the best defenders on the planet. Rating: 8.5/10.
Left Back: Alex Sandro
This season Alex Sandro has become one of the best left-backs in the world. He is so good in all areas of the game and his role in Juventus’ team, providing symmetry to all that Dani Alves does, is so crucial to the way they play. The Brazilian fullback won all of his battles against the opposing Djibril Sidibe who was made to look very poor as a right-wing-back. He completed nearly 93% of his passes, made 2 tackles, won 2 duels in the air and was a constant source down the left-hand-side for Allegri’s team. Alex Sandro is a beast in all areas of the game and has established himself as one of the best left-backs in the world.
Centre Midfield: Joao Moutinho
Having to play second fiddle to Fabinho and Tiemoue Bakayogo this season must have been tough for Joao Moutinho. We all know his quality and how good of a player he can be but simply to accommodate Monaco’s star-studded young lineup of rising talents, the Euro 2016 winner has had to make way. 30-years old now but Moutinho’s quality is still there for all to see and despite playing against what is possibly the most well-oiled machine in world football, he actually dominated the midfield. He had 86 touches on the ball, which was 24 more than any Monaco player and despite trying the most elaborate of passes, still managed to complete 96% of them! In addition to having three way-ward shots, he created 4 chances for his teammates to score and even assisted Monaco’s only goal on the night brought to us once again by Mbappe-Lottin. Moutinho’s passing, delivery and skill on the ball is just excellent and with some of these young talents seemingly on their way this summer, he will easily re-establish himself as one of Ligue 1’s best very soon. Rating: 9/10.
Centre Midfield: Toni Kroos
So dominant in possession of the ball once again, Toni Kroos controlled Real Madrid’s match against Atletico from midfield. The German midfielder gets on the ball more than anyone else in any given match that he plays and his passing and defensive aptitude are both absolutely sublime. Kroos completed 96% of his passes on Wednesday night, completing all of his long balls and making 3 accurate crosses. He also created 5 chances, just being a crucial link from defense to attack all game long. Defensively he was also on top of things, making 2 tackles, 2 interceptions and 2 clearances. Toni Kroos is the best midfielder in the world and is one of very few players to make both Team of the Week’s for the UCL Semi-Finals. Rating: 9/10.
Centre Midfield: Saul Niguez
Atletico Madrid dominated the first third of the game and that was in large part due to the energy and vibrancy brought to the table by the midfield. Saul Niguez was a massive part of that, playing alongside Gabi in the centre of the park and holding crucial defensive responsibilities while still being given the license to move forward. It was his goal that gave Atletico so much hope that they could get back into the game, a task that looked close to impossible before the match began. Defensively he was also solid, making 3 interceptions, blocking 2 shots and making 1 tackle. Saul Niguez really has established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world these past two years and now that Atletico haven’t made the final of this competition, he could be on the move this summer. Rating: 9/10.
Attacking Midfield: Isco
Real Madrid’s most important player on Wednesday night without question was Francisco Suarez, more commonly known as Isco. The Spanish midfielder was always on the ball, always on the move and always wreaking havoc for Atletico Madrid. He was Real Madrid’s bright spot all game long, especially in a game where for large portions of it they weren’t on top whatsoever. Isco’s presence on the ball was just wonderful for Los Blancos and his skill and tenacity in possession allowed so many more players to get involved. The 25-year old midfielder had 99 touches on the ball, created 3 chances, won a stunning total of 8 take-on’s and scored Real’s only goal of the game. Isco is a magnificent midfielder and is so unlucky not to start more matches for Zinedine Zidane’s team. When he plays, he shines and it very unfortunate that with the embarrassment of riches that Real Madrid have to offer that he does not get more regular playing time. Rating: 10/10.
Right Wing: Paulo Dybala
Whenever Paulo Dybala found himself with the ball at his feet on Tuesday, he always looked dangerous. The Argentinean forward is just such a smooth operator when in possession and his role in both goals, particularly the first, was critical. Dyabala’s hold up play was second to none on the night and his ability to just hold the ball up before picking out the right pass was always impressive, especially when it helped lead to Mandzukic’s opening goal. The 23-year old forward had a 94% pass accuracy on Tuesday, higher than anyone else on the pitch, while also creating 2 chances, taking 2 shots and helping out defensively with 2 tackles. Although he didn’t score nor assist, it was still a fantastic display from this genius player. Paulo Dybala is a complete forward and could be on his way to leading Juventus to a surprise UCL title. Rating: 8.5/10.
Centre Forward: Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema often hides in the shadows of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, but he is still one of the best forwards on the planet. Ever since his situation with Valbuena, he hasn’t gotten anywhere near the credit he deserves. At times he can be unstoppable and he reminded us all of that on Wednesday night when he completely dominated over Atletico’s towering defense, a defense so sturdy and hard to breakdown. His hold up play was fantastic while his role in setting up Isco’s goal, Real’s only goal of the game, was critical and effectively ended the tie. Impressively, he also showed quite a bit of skill in possession of the ball, dangling his way through several defenders before finding a teammate in the build-up to Isco’s goal. In total he completed 7 take-on’s to go along with his 85% pass accuracy and 2 shots. Benzema is one of the best forwards on the planet and needs to start getting the credit he deserves again. Rating: 9/10.
Left Wing: Mario Mandzukic
Mario Mandzukic has been brilliant in both of Juve’s games against AS Monaco and has been one of the shining stars in the side, leading them through to the final match of this competition. Since Higuain came into the fold, the Croatian forward has been pushed out wide to the wing, a position not normally associated with 6’3 giants like himself. But the 30-year old has adapted to his new position wonderfully well and has always been helpful in both ends of the pitch. On Tuesdsay night against Monaco he took full advantage of his left wing position, wreaking havoc against an advanced Djibril Sidibe and even popping up with a goal, a goal that just so happened to be only his second of the competition. It seemed as though the Croatian was just everywhere from a Juve standpoint as he had 71 touches on the ball which was only surpassed by Dani Alves. He even won 10 duels in the air! To give you some context, the next highest in that regard was Chiellini with 3! Moreover, he won 5 interceptions, which was also more than any other player and highlights his fantastic defensive work ethic. So he just completely annihilated Monaco’s defenders on all fronts on Tuesday. From scoring a goal to getting away shots to winning balls in the air to doing so much from the team from a defensive standpoint as well. Mario Mandzukic is proving to be the perfect Juventus player and is turning out to be so much more than just a goal-scoring target man. Rating: 10/10.
Formation: (3-4-3): Buffon, D. Alves, Chiellini, A. Sandro, Moutinho, Kroos, Saul, Isco, Dybala, Benzema, Mandzukic
Player of the Week: Isco
8 take-on’s completed, 3 chances created, 99 touches and one crucial goal, Isco is this week’s player of the week. He wasn’t even on the winning side but he just totally dominated the game and wreaked havoc on Atletico’s defenders throughout the ninety minutes. He might not even play in the final if Gareth Bale is fit, but his role in both semi-final matches has been absolutely critical.
Manager of the Week: Massimo Allegri
It was Zinedine Zidane last week but Massimo Allegri deserves the credit this week for his team’s stunning display against Monaco. Although they only won the game 2-1, Juventus were totally dominant over the French giants and put in a massive display from back to front. Tactically his team were all over Monaco and the only freedom the French team were able to find at times was in midfield with Bakayogo and Moutinho. His defense were rock solid and the 3-5-2 worked perfectly again, allowing Sandro and Alves to do the most damage. Mandzukic as a left-winger and Dybala as a right-winger were perfect moves for the Italian to make and his time just counter attacked to perfection. Massimo Allegri is a brilliant manager and it will be incredibly intriguing to see where he ends up next season if it isn’t at Juve.
So there it is! The Team of the Week for the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League! Who would make your team? Let us know below! Thanks for reading!