Champions League Team of the Week: Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski lead
There really is no such thing as the UEFA Champions League.
Heavyweights collide wherever you have traveled the timeline. Lots of accolades across the continent, a hat-trick sprinkled in Barcelona and there are as many inquiries as there are celebrations… we’re looking at you, Liverpool.
Thus, after the first round of group matches, which makes Sportsmail’s The team of the week in the Champions League?
Manchester City have set up an attack clinic in Sevilla for the first round of fixtures
Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG)
People were quick to jump on the Italian for being responsible for Juventus’ goal, but looking at the game as a whole, he played a key role in ensuring PSG secured this victory.
In the first half he made a remarkable save from close range to deny a header from Arkadiusz Milik, and at 2-1 in the second he was again called upon to stop Dusan Vlahovic’s descending header through the box of repair.
Donnarumma is extremely talented but the knives are already out for him. Opponents seem to have made up their minds, but his crucial stops are hard to dispute.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (right) is heavily scrutinized by PSG fans but made two key saves
Joao Cancelo (Man City)
For anyone who has seen anything from Manchester City in recent seasons, Joao Cancelo playing well has long since ceased to make headlines.
But that performance in Sevilla was very impressive, even by his high standards.
The full-back had 105 touches, won 100% of his tackles and finished with an 89% accuracy rate.
Add in two that he produced two clearances, two key passes and two assists on a night that ended 4-0.
He’s right up there with Acraf Hakimi as the most talented full-back in the world.
Joao Cancelo (right) was fabulous against Sevilla, ending the night with two assists
Ruben Dias (Man City)
Rock solid at the back and capped off by his first Champions League goal for Man City… not a bad night’s work for Ruben Dias.
City have rarely been threatened and Dias deserves credit for orchestrating the backline.
Sevilla have been limited to just one shot on target and that defensive nastiness, alongside a new centre-back partner in Manuel Akanji, bodes well for the rest of the competition.
Tougher tests lie ahead, including a trip to Dortmund to face the yellow wall, but you struggle to find centre-backs who have the full game just like Dias.
Ruben Dias is the base Man City rely on and he added the fourth goal in the rout
Calvin Bassey (Ajax)
Talk about the height of the occasion.
Calvin Bassey, against his former side, producing an assist and helping deliver a clean sheet on his Champions League debut.
Bassey hardly took a wrong foot all night.
His passing accuracy was 97%, completing 142 of 146 attempted passes.
Eight digs highlight his ability on the other side of the ball and Ajax, as Rangers know all too well, have picked up a gem in the 22-year-old.
Calvin Bassey looks like a brilliant deal for Ajax after leaving Rangers
Alex Grimaldo (Benfica)
My word, what a goal Alex Grimaldo scored to seal a 2-0 win for Benfica.
He picked it up on the left, wandered inside and from 25 yards just fired a looping shot into the top corner. Exceptional.
It was as dominant a performance as any in the first round of matches.
A goal and an assist in Benfica’s 2-0 win, a clean sheet to go with it and four of his eight victories.
No one knows how Grimaldo was kept out of the clutches of Premier League clubs…
Clubs outside Portugal will have to pay more attention to left-back Alex Grimaldo (right)
Marian Shved (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Here’s a name a few might have anticipated to take the top spot in midfield in the Team of the Week, but it’s impossible to argue with.
Marian Shved, in his first Champions League start for Shakhtar, produced a two-goal performance as man of the match.
His spell at Celtic in 2019 never went as he would have hoped, but it was a dream start to life with the Ukrainians as one of six players to win a Matchday One double.
Keep it up and Shakhtar may have some work to do to convince him to stick to the five-year contract he signed earlier this month.
Marian Shved produced a man of the match display as Shakhtar Donetsk beat RB Leipzig
Piotr Zielinski (Napoli)
Bulldozing Liverpool is no small feat and Napoli can thank Piotr Zielinski for playing a key role in the midfield engine room.
To complement the two goals he scored in the 4-1 loss, Zielinski proved to be the heartbeat of Luciano Spalletti’s side and clearly overcame any grievances over a potential Premier League switch this summer .
Two goals, one assist and 86% passing accuracy indicate a near-perfect display.
If Napoli dance to the tune of Zielinski’s drum, they can make noise beyond just Group A’s outing.
A fabulous footballer in full flight.
Piotr Zielinski is the heartbeat of the Napoli team and his brace showed he was also a goal threat
Marcus Edwards (Sporting Lisbon)
Once dubbed the ‘mini Messi’ at Tottenham by Mauricio Pochettino, it was perhaps a wise move when Marcus Edwards stepped away from the spotlight to focus solely on his football in Portugal.
He is now reaping the rewards with a goal and an assist in Sporting Lisbon’s 3-0 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt.
In net in Germany, Edwards became the fifth different Englishman to score a Champions League goal for a non-British club since 2018-19.
Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham did it for Borussia Dortmund, Fikayo Tomori for AC Milan and Angel Gomes for Lille.
In a group that many expect to see Tottenham win, an old flame could still come back to burn them.
Marcus Edwards (left) was patient on his climb to the top, but he’s here and thriving now
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
There are no more superlatives for him, frankly.
Say what you will about the power he wields behind the scenes at PSG, but there can be little criticism of what he produces on the pitch in the biggest games.
In the first 45 minutes against Juventus he had two shots on target and two goals, both outrageously good finishes on the volley.
Add to that he won 3/4 duels on the ground and had 91% passing accuracy, it was almost perfect.
His quality is so good that you can argue that he is the best striker in world football.
Kylian Mbappe can credibly make the case that he’s the best in the world right now
Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)
Player of the week, hands down.
Yes, it’s Viktoria Plzen. Yes, they are expected to finish last in the group.
But Champions League hat-tricks are no small feat and so let’s not take anything away from Robert Lewandowski.
He topped it all off with a superb effort curled into the bottom corner, just to underscore how good he is. Bordering on unfair most of the time.
His latest hat-trick puts him third among all-time Champions League top scorers with 89, behind Lionel Messi (125) and Cristiano Ronaldo (140).
At this rate, he will reach his century sooner rather than later.
Robert Lewandowski proved age is just a number with his latest hat-trick in Europe
One word: match winner.
Tottenham huffed and huffed in the second half with little joy. Marseille were down to 10 and defending admirably, until it came down to scoring Richarlison in the air and there was only one winner.
The Brazilian was eager to score his first goal since his £50million move from Everton. You could see in recent performances how eager he was to get rid of the monkey.
Well, consider that long gone with this late show.
Four shots, two on target, two goals. Tottenham 2-0 Marseilles. Work done.
A night that the Brazilian will never forget.
Richarlison (left) left it late to spare Spurs blushing with a brace against Marseille at 10
NOTABLE MENTIONS: Haaland, Dembele, Reyna
It seems unfair to have left out this trio given their incredible impacts throughout the first day.
Two goals for Erling Haaland in the 4-0 rout of Sevilla. Two assists for Ousmane Dembele in the 5-1 thrashing against Plzen. Two assists for Giovanni Reyna, after replacing Thorgan Hazard.
But all three ran into arguments that were hard to dissuade.
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