MX23RW : Sunday, October 7 22:09:35

Champions League Team of the Week - Lionel Messi, Neymar, Paulo Dybala

Sports Mole selects its Champions League team of the week for matchday two, including three hat-trick heroes and two-goal Lionel Messi.

There were 49 goals during the second round of Champions League group games in midweek as Europe's premier club competition once again delivered.

Holders Real Madrid fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night, while fellow European giants Bayern Munich were also held by Ajax on the same evening.

There were big wins for the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Roma and Borussia Dortmund, though, while Barcelona recovered from their recent run of poor form with a thrilling 4-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.

The Spurs defeat capped off a disappointing matchday for the English clubs, with Liverpool losing late to Napoli, Manchester United once again failing to inspire in a goalless draw with Valencia and Manchester City needing a late winner against Hoffenheim.

Here, Sports Mole selects its star-studded team of the week from matchday two of the Champions League group stages.



CL TOTW MD2

The number of outstanding attacking performances this week means that the goalkeeping position is less fiercely contested. Borussia Dortmund's Roman Burki made five saves on his way to a clean sheet against Monaco, with Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer the closest competitor for a place in this team.

Burki's Dortmund teammate Manuel Akanji also earns a place in the side having made a game-high five tackles against Monaco, and he is joined at the heart of the defence by Roma's Federico Fazio, who won more aerial duels and had a better pass completion rate than any other player on the park during the 5-0 win over Viktoria Plzen.

Ajax pulled off an impressive draw away to Bayern courtesy of Noussair Mazraoui's equaliser, and no-one on the pitch made more tackles than the right-back either. On the opposite flank it is all about attacking flair, with Jordi Alba registering three assists in Barca's win over Spurs to beat Porto's Alex Telles to a place in the team.

It is an all-Italian holding midfield lineup as Roma's Lorenzo Pellegrini and PSG's Marco Verratti are included, having each played integral roles in five-goal victories for their sides. Verratti alone registered a mammoth 10 tackles against Red Star Belgrade - five times more than anyone else on the field.

Midfield is where the competition for places in this side really hots up, with Man City matchwinner David Silva, Roma's Bryan Cristante and Schalke's Weston McKennie among those to miss out, while Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic deserves a mention purely for the quality of his volley at Wembley.

It was Lionel Messi who stole the show in that match, though, with the Argentine putting in the type of performance which had fans, legends and pundits declaring him the greatest of all time once again. Messi helped himself to two goals at Wembley, but also hit the post twice and otherwise ran the show for Barcelona.

It speaks volumes for the level of attacking quality on show that Messi's performance was arguably not even the standout one of the week, though. Our front four scored 11 goals between them in this round of fixtures, and Messi was the only one of those not to bag a hat-trick.

The Argentine's old Barcelona teammate Neymar got PSG off the mark with a stunning treble against Red Star, while Paulo Dybala scored all of Juve's goals in their 3-0 win over Young Boys and also hit the woodwork in that match.

Edin Dzeko also took the matchball home in Roma's rout of Plzen, and his teammates Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert deserve mentions for the part they played in a dominant performance.

Indeed, there are a plethora of honourable mentions for the attacking positions, with Kylian Mbappe, Angel di Maria, Antoine Griezmann, Edinson Cavani, Marco Reus, Moraes and Nikola Vlasic all impressing - just not quite as much as the standout quartet selected in this very competitive week.

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Lionel Messi celebrates the opener during the Champions League group game between Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven on September 18, 2018
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City86202131820
2Chelsea86201851320
3Liverpool86201531220
4Arsenal86021910918
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs8602157818
6Bournemouth85121612416
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves843196315
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd84131314-113
9Watford84131112-113
10Leicester CityLeicester84041412212
11Everton83321312112
12Burnley82241012-28
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8224913-48
14Crystal Palace821559-47
15West Ham UnitedWest Ham8215813-57
16Southampton8125614-85
17Fulham8125921-125
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield8035417-133
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle8026613-72
20Cardiff CityCardiff8026417-132

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