Home Sports Champions League team of the week: Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham and Cristiano...

Champions League team of the week: Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham and Cristiano among picks

143
0


With 44 goals over two nights, it’s fair to say the Champions League is well and truly back.

Europe’s premier club competition hasn’t let us down this week as the group stage kicked off with heaps of drama, some goal-fests and even a shock result as Manchester United lost to Young Boys.

But who really shone for their teams? After each Champions League matchday, Sportsmail will select its team of the week to highlight the top performers across Europe.

Here’s our pick from the first round of games. 

Bayern Munich made mincemeat of Barcelona in one of the matchday one highlights as the Champions League group stage got underway this week

Bayern Munich made mincemeat of Barcelona in one of the matchday one highlights as the Champions League group stage got underway this week

GOALKEEPER

Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)

Not too many people are tipping Real Madrid for Champions League glory this season amid a perception the Spanish giants have been cut down to size.

But they got off to the perfect start with a last-gasp 1-0 win over Inter Milan at the San Siro. They wouldn’t have got far without Thibaut Courtois, however, who is reasserting himself as one of the world’s best goalkeepers.

A one-man wall against Inter’s attacking threat, he made four crucial saves to keep his team in contention and lay the foundation for Rodrygo to snatch the win.

Thibaut Courtois makes one of several crucial saves as Real Madrid defeated Inter Milan

Thibaut Courtois makes one of several crucial saves as Real Madrid defeated Inter Milan 

DEFENDERS

Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

Having come so close last season, Pep Guardiola will be desperate to deliver Champions League glory to the blue side of Manchester this time.

They started with a madcap 6-3 win over RB Leipzig on Wednesday night, a contest that was never really comfortable for City until the impressive Joao Cancelo scored a stunner from outside the box.

The full-back had posed Leipzig a real headache all night and earlier saw a sumptuous through ball assist count for nothing as Ferran Torres was adjudged offside.

Joao Cancelo scored a stunning goal as Manchester City ran riot against RB Leipzig

Joao Cancelo scored a stunning goal as Manchester City ran riot against RB Leipzig 

Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)

Defending champions Chelsea needed the virtue of patience in breaking down Zenit’s back line on Tuesday night but it was a defender of their own who often provided the impetus.

The Blues are struggling to convince Antonio Rudiger to sign a new £125,000-a-week contract amid whispers of interest from PSG, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich.

But the German is a marauding presence on the field, wowing the Stamford Bridge crowd by running from his own half, slicing through Zenit before shooting wide.

Antonio Rudiger bursts forward out of defence during Chelsea's slender win over Zenit

Antonio Rudiger bursts forward out of defence during Chelsea’s slender win over Zenit 

Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich)

No doubt the statement result of the first week was Bayern Munich’s 3-0 trouncing of Barcelona, yet more clear evidence of how the Nou Camp club’s stock has slumped.

The German champions dominated the contest but the clean sheet was welcome and Dayot Upamecano certainly showed his class at the back.

Showing his strength in the tackle and aerial duels, Upamecano showed precisely why Bayern were so keen to see off other suitors around Europe to sign him from Leipzig earlier this year.

Dominant Dayot Upamecano kept the Barcelona threat comfortably at bay in Bayern's 3-0 win

Dominant Dayot Upamecano kept the Barcelona threat comfortably at bay in Bayern’s 3-0 win

Cristiano (Sheriff Tiraspol)

‘But Manchester United lost dismally and Cristiano Ronaldo was taken off…’ I hear you cry.

No, not him, but Cristiano da Silva Leite of Moldovans Sheriff Tiraspol, who created a splash with their first-ever win in the Champions League proper against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Brazilian left-back Cristiano set up both goals, for Adama Traore and Momo Yansane, to signal clearly the newcomers won’t be pushovers in Group D.

It was a night to remember for Cristiano (right) as Moldovans Sheriff Tiraspol made history

It was a night to remember for Cristiano (right) as Moldovans Sheriff Tiraspol made history 

MIDFIELDERS

Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)

It ultimately wasn’t Leipzig’s night at the Etihad Stadium but you certainly couldn’t question their fighting spirit to reduce the deficit to just one goal on three occasions.

Their star performer was Christopher Nkunku, who scored a hat-trick by sneaking into the ideal position to score with his head and by continually rattling City’s defence by running directly at them.

He joined the small clique of players to have scored a hat-trick in a Champions League and finished on the losing side.

The others are Ronaldo for Real Madrid against Manchester United in 2003, Gareth Bale for Tottenham against Inter Milan in 2010 and Irfan Kahveci for Istanbul Basaksehir against Leipzig last season.

Christopher Nkunku was a thorn in the side of Man City all night but Leipzig ended well beaten

Christopher Nkunku was a thorn in the side of Man City all night but Leipzig ended well beaten

Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

You just couldn’t escape the comparisons with Steven Gerrard after Jordan Henderson’s stunning winner for Liverpool in a thriller with AC Milan at Anfield.

The way Liverpool’s skipper struck the ball so cleanly first time from the edge of the penalty area, the ball arrowing into the bottom corner, was absolutely textbook.

It also spared the blushes of Jurgen Klopp’s side after they threw away an early advantage and had to claw their way back from behind against a far-from-vintage Milan side.

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson celebrates his stunning strike against AC Milan at Anfield

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson celebrates his stunning strike against AC Milan at Anfield

Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)

An outstanding performance by the young Englishman, who scored and set up another for Erling Haaland as Borussia Dortmund started with a 2-1 win over Besiktas in the hostile Vodafone Park.

18-year-old Bellingham ran the show from midfield and ensured Dortmund started an open group also containing Ajax and Sporting Lisbon with three points.

The way Bellingham handled the occasion will delight England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of the internationals next month.

Jude Bellingham produced an excellent performance as Borussia Dortmund won at Besiktas

Jude Bellingham produced an excellent performance as Borussia Dortmund won at Besiktas 

FORWARDS

Sebastien Haller (Ajax)

The most emphatic result of the round saw Ajax smash in five goals away to Sporting Lisbon and it certainly wasn’t a bad way to announce yourself in the Champions League for Sebastien Haller.

The Ivory Coast forward may have struggled at West Ham but he has soon rediscovered his scoring touch at Ajax and this four-goal haul was certainly impressive.

Two inside the first nine minutes in Lisbon were followed by a couple more after the break as Haller joined legend Marco van Basten as the only players to have scored four on their Champions League debut.

Sebastien Haller salutes the Ajax fans and takes home the matchball after his four goal spree

Sebastien Haller salutes the Ajax fans and takes home the matchball after his four goal spree

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

One of the more predictable entries into the Champions League team of the week but Robert Lewandowski is in such sensational form you simply cannot keep him quiet.

The Pole showed off his predatory instinct as Bayern cruised to victory over Barcelona and, extraordinarily, has now scored in 18 consecutive games for them.

Lewandowski now has 10 goals in his first six games this season and he appears determined that Bayern will emulate their 2020 Champions League success.

The irrepressible Robert Lewandowski celebrates one of his two goals against Barcelona

The irrepressible Robert Lewandowski celebrates one of his two goals against Barcelona

Jack Grealish (Manchester City)

His night may have included a touchline rollicking from Pep Guardiola for failing to track back and help the defence but otherwise Jack Grealish’s first taste of Champions League football was perfect.

A well-taken goal and an assist helped Manchester City get the better of a dogged Leipzig side and Grealish certainly lived up to his £100million transfer fee.

It’s bound to be the first of many goals for the England star in Europe’s leading competition.

Jack Grealish celebrates his first Champions League goal as Manchester City ran in six goals

Jack Grealish celebrates his first Champions League goal as Manchester City ran in six goals

Previous articleStomach bloating: A daily supplement to improve gut health and reduce symptoms
Next articlePrince Philip's will ordered to remain sealed by judge to protect Queen Elizabeth

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here