Champions League – Team of the week

Liverpool heroes Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are among the cream of the crop from this week’s Champions League last-16 games. steven-gerrard-liverpool-real-madrid-champion_1984425

English sides provide five members of my first XI this week, although it could have been more as they make up half of the quarter-final crop. Liverpool get two entries following their demolition job on Real Madrid, while Barcelona also go double bubble after a similarly emphatic show against Lyon. Bayern Munich might count themselves unlucky to have just the one player recognised after they monstered Sporting Lisbon 12-1 on aggregate, but the Germans’ dominance it was difficult to single out individuals.

Goalkeeper – Manuel Almunia (Arsenal) OK, he didn’t really do much in the penalty shoot-out except save a hopeless Mirko Vucinic effort, but he kept Arsenal in the tie with several stops in normal time.

Right-back – Maicon (Internazionale) It might have been in a losing effort, but the Brazlian wing-back was Inter’s most consistent attacking threat at Old Trafford and he forced a change of formation from Manchester United.

Centre-back – John Terry (Chelsea) On a tough night in Turin for Chelsea’s defence – and goalkeeper Petr Cech in particular – Terry kept the Blues’ head above water with a typically gritty display.

Centre-back – Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United) He makes the team by virtue of his imperious headed opening goal rather than his slightly shaky defensive work. If Zlatan Ibrahimovic were as clinical as Vidic, United might be out by now.

Left-back – Aly Cissokho (Porto) The French-Senegalese defender had a comfortable night as he kept the shackles on Atletico Madrid wingers Simao and Maxi Rodriguez, and made some neat contributions going forward.

Right midfield – Ariel Ibagaza (Villarreal) One assist, one goal; Ibagaza was instrumental to the Spanish side’s progression after a tight 2-1 victory over Panathinaikos. The winger was a constant threat throughout and demonstrated a clinical end product.

Central midfielder – Mark van Bommel (Bayern Munich) The Dutchman capped a superb performance in Bayern’s 7-1 trouncing of Sporting with a stunning second-half strike; the midfielder was at the forefront of most of the German side’s dominance.

Central midfielder – Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) Two more goals take Liverpool’s talisman to the top of the Champions League scoring chart alongside Miroslav Klose, and his all-round contribution to his side’s success remains as unflinching as ever.

Left midfield – Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) It is not easy to stand out in a side containing Henry, Messi, Eto’o, Xavi and others, but Iniesta was arguably the pick of a stellar bunch as Barca thrashed Lyon.

Centre-forward – Lionel Messi (Barcelona) Even Cristiano Ronaldo would struggle to deny that the little Argentinian is the best player in the world. His solo effort against Lyon might have taken a touch off a defender but was genius nonetheless.

Centre-forward – Fernando Torres (Liverpool) Gave Real Madrid’s centre-backs Pepe and Fabio Cannavaro a torrid evening with his pace and guile; Torres’s early strike put Liverpool in the ascendency and set the foundation for a convincing win.

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~ by awbroady on March 13, 2009.

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