Champions League team of the week: Gameweek 4

Another couple of nights of that sweet, sweet Gazprom. Drink it in.

We’re back with our Champions League team of the week, featuring Mohamed Salah’s fastest hat-trick, Antonio Rudiger’s bravery and everyone’s favourite footballer at the moment Kvicha Kvaratskhelia, who I am going to include a couple more times in this introduction just to get the spelling down. Kvaratskhelia. Kvicha Kvaratskhelia. There. Got it. Feel like we’ll be writing quite a bit about him in the future.

Without further ado, here are the star performers from Gameweek 4.

Not a bad night for Porto’s brick wall disguised as a human being Diogo Costa, who saved a second penalty in two weeks against Bayer Leverkusen and set up the opening goal with this ridiculous pass out from inside his own box. Wenderson Galeno didn’t even need to break stride. Beautiful.

Manuel Akanji

Akanji has looked like an astute bit of business for City / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Since joining for £15m from Borussia Dortmund over the summer, Manuel Akanji has impressed with his solidity in two key areas: mental arithmetic and on the pitch.

Against Copenhagen, Manchester City were down to ten men after only half an hour, meaning Akanji was tasked with moving out of position to right-back and covering that entire flank for the remaining hour. It was nervy at times but City held on for a 0-0 draw thanks to their Swiss army knife defender stepping up to the task.

David Raum

Raum appears to have the edge over Robin Gosens for Germany’s left-back spot / Boris Streubel/GettyImages

The former Hoffenheim wing-back had a fine game for Leipzig in their 2-0 victory over Celtic at Parkhead. Likely to be Germany’s starting left-back this winter, Raum got up and down the pitch all night long as well as performing his defensive duties to a high standard. He won four of his five ground duels and all five of his battles in the air to earn a spot in team of the week.

We’re including Antonio Rudiger for nothing other than his bravery after the defender quite literally put his body on the line to earn Real Madrid a 1-1 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk.

To go up for a header in the 95th minute knowing you’re about to get clattered in the face takes a lot of courage, but Big Rud didn’t need to think twice to bravely nod a Toni Kroos diagonal into the net and absorb the full impact of onrushing goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin. Sometimes not all heroes wear capes. Or are Karim Benzema.

Leonardo Balerdi

Balerdi also scored in last week’s reverse fixture against Sporting / Vasile Mihai-Antonio/GettyImages

Marseille’s 23-year-old Argentinian Leo Balerdi gets the nod to join Rudiger at centre-back this week. Dominant defensively, Balerdi also made 61 of his 66 passes (92%) as Igor Tudor’s men impressed again in Europe and beat Sporting 2-0 in Lisbon.


Jorginho scored his 40th career penalty against Milan / Emilio Andreoli/GettyImages

And if passes completed is your thing, here’s human metronome Jorginho. He made 88 out of 91 (97%) passes and coolly slotted a trademark hop, skip and side-foot penalty during Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Milan at San Siro. They’ve made a very promising start to life under Graham Potter, haven’t they?

Leon Goretzka

Goretzka was on fire for Bayern / Adam Pretty/GettyImages

Bayern may have eventually eased off the gas but it proved to be another comfortable night in the Champions League as they cruised to a 4-0 halftime lead against Viktoria Plzen.

The Czech side, to their credit, fought back after the break to make it 4-2 on the night but the damage was already done by then, mostly by Goretzka, who had two goals and an assist in just 56 minutes of action before being rested.

Super League proponents Juventus wanted a breakaway European competition to prevent exactly this from happening. A shame for them, then, to encounter Omer Atzili, who scored twice to earn Maccabi Haifa a historic 2-0 home win, their first in the Champions League group stages since beating Manchester United 3-0 in 2002.

Here’s that team on the night, included purely for entertainment purposes: Ricardo, Gary Neville, Silvestre, Ferdinand, O’Shea, Phil Neville, Scholes, Fortune, Richardson (Nardiello 62), Solskjaer, Forlan (Timms 79). Yikes, Fergie. Big yikes.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

Not just worthy of a big Scrabble score, Kvaratskhelia has earned his spot in the Champions League team of the week / Francesco Pecoraro/GettyImages

‘Kvaradona’ was it again during Napoli’s 4-2 win in Amsterdam, adding another goal and assist to his already impressive tally this season and generally tearing Ajax’s defence to pieces every time he touched the ball.

Watching the Georgian in full flight deserves the kind of David Attenborough voiceover usually reserved for a pride of lions tracking and killing a helpless baby buffalo.

South Korea’s favourite son is back among the goals for Tottenham. Very, very clever pun aside, Son was Player of the Match for Spurs as they beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2 at the presumably soon-to-be-named Google Stadium. His second, a rasping left-foot volley, was glorious.

Mohamed Salah - Winger - Born 1992

Three goals in six minutes for Mohamed Salah against Rangers / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Mo Salah came onto the Ibrox pitch with 22 minutes remaining and Liverpool already 3-1 to the good against Rangers and thought: “Yeah, go on then.”

He walked off with the quickest Champions League hat-trick ever (six minutes) and the match ball. A decent night’s work for the forward, all in all.

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