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Champions League Team of the Week - Angel di Maria, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Erling Haaland

Sports Mole selects its Champions League team of the week for matchday one of the new season, including Angel di Maria, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Erling Haaland.

The Champions League group stages returned with a bang this week as 32 teams began their quest to reach the final in Istanbul in May.

Holders Liverpool were condemned to defeat in the first match of their defence away to Napoli, while Chelsea were beaten at home by Valencia on the same night.

Indeed, Manchester City were the only English team to get off to a winning start, with Tottenham Hotspur blowing a two-goal lead to draw at Olympiacos.

The pick of the ties was Paris Saint-Germain against Real Madrid and, despite being without the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani, the Ligue 1 outfit made light work of the 13-time champions with a statement-making 3-0 win at the Parc des Princes.

Real's neighbours Atletico Madrid fared slightly better by coming from two goals down to salvage a draw against Juventus, while there were big wins for the likes of Red Bull Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Bayern Munich and Ajax.

Here, Sports Mole selects its Champions League team of the week for matchday one.



CL TOTW MD1

To say that there was a huge amount of competition for this week's team would be an understatement, but one position which needed little deliberation was that of goalkeeper. It is rare that Barcelona are grateful to come away from a match with a draw, but that was the case against Borussia Dortmund as Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a penalty and made a string of other important stops to ensure a point for the visitors. Valencia's Jasper Cillessen and Napoli's Alex Meret deserve mentions too.

Ajax won hearts around Europe with their attacking performances last season and were in full flow again with their 3-0 triumph over Lille, although their two representatives in this week's team come in defence. Nicolas Tagliafico scored one and created another to earn the left-back slot above Juan Bernat and Andreas Ulmer, while Joel Veltman's towering display in the middle sees him pip the similarly impressive Kalidou Koulibaly to a place in the team.

Mats Hummels partners him at centre-back having severely limited the attacking chances for Barcelona at the Westfalenstadion, while Atletico's Kieran Trippier completes the back four having picked up an assist and provided a crucial clearance off the line in their come-from-behind draw with Juventus.

Dinamo Zagreb ensured that Atalanta's debut in the competition was one to forget, and the chief tormentors in that 4-0 drubbing were Dani Olmo and Mislav Orsic. The latter was a guaranteed inclusion courtesy of his hat-trick, while the former's dribbling was a constant threat. The in-demand Olmo has to settle for a change in position in this XI, but he is more than capable of playing in the middle.

Olmo's attacking instincts would be covered by Bayern's Thiago Alcantara, who ran the show against Red Star Belgrade. The Spain international not only provided metronomic passing en route to an assist, but also put in a game-high seven tackles to thwart any threat from the visitors.

One of the standout performances of the week - thanks in part to the profile of the match - was that of Angel di Maria against his former club. The PSG winger took his two goals really well and more than stepped up in the absence of all of the team's first-choice front three.

Few would have expected Red Bull Salzburg to provide both strikers in the opening Champions League team of the week, but their six-goal haul against Genk makes them impossible to ignore and both Liverpool and Napoli will have sat up to take note.

Erling Haaland in particular has grabbed the spotlight with his well-taken hat-trick on his Champions League debut - incredibly already the 19-year-old's fourth treble of the season - but his strike partner Hwang Hee-Chan was just as important to the size of that victory with a goal of his own as well as two assists.

Indeed, Salzburg can feel slightly aggrieved that they only have two representatives in this XI, with Zlatko Junuzovic and Takumi Minamino having both helped themselves to a pair of assists apiece. They are by no means the only players to have narrowly missed out on a place in this team, though, and the likes of Edson Alvarez, Hakim Ziyech, Dani Parejo, Ilkay Gundogan, Memphis Depay, Daniel Podence, Riyad Mahrez, Timo Werner, Raheem Sterling and Kingsley Coman are just a few of the names who deserve honourable mentions.

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Jurgen Klopp celebrates winning the Champions League with Liverpool on June 1, 2019
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