There are some first appearances of the season in our select XI from Tuesday and Wednesday after some gripping encounters left the last eight balanced on a knife edge
There were surprise results, stunning goals and sensational performances as the Champions League quarter-final first legs lived up to their billing this week.
As ever, 11 of the standout performers from Tuesday and Wednesday’s games have earned a place in our team of the week, with some old familiar faces joined by some debutants for this season.
In goal, Thibaut Courtois was in inspired form as he kept Barcelona at bay for large spells to ensure Atletico Madrid will take a slight advantage into the second leg following their 1-1 draw at Camp Nou.
Our back four features two of Manchester United’s defenders for the first time this season: Phil Jones put in an impressive display to keep Franck Ribery from making a telling impact at Old Trafford before switching to the left flank following Alexander Buttner’s injury and doing much the same against Arjen Robben. He is joined by Nemanja Vidic, who put in his finest display in Europe for two years, commanding the United penalty area and brilliantly heading home Wayne Rooney’s corner for his goal. Alongside Vidic is Pepe, who was exemplary against Borussia Dortmund and made one particularly stunning tackle to deny Henrikh Mkhitaryan a priceless away goal. At left-back, Maxwell was once again in good form for Paris Saint-Germain, keeping Willian and the roaming Eden Hazard relatively quiet whilst offering a consistent threat on the overlap in attack.
The midfield this week is anchored by Michael Carrick, whose positional awareness and range of passing was crucial to United nullifying Bayern’s threat through the middle. Ahead of him, Andres Iniesta gets the nod after his classy showing and astounding assist for Neymar against Atletico, while Diego also earns a spot from that game thanks to his outrageous strike shortly after replacing the injured Diego Costa. Isco delivered one of his best recent displays for Madrid to earn a spot in the side, and Ezequiel Lavezzi‘s match-winning contribution for Paris Saint-Germain against Chelsea sees the Argentine line up on the wing.
In attack, Mario Mandzukic earns the solitary spot this week thanks to the Croatia striker’s telling efforts as a substitute against United. He set up Bastian Schweinsteiger’s vital away goal and proved a handful for the Red Devils defence after replacing the ineffectual Thomas Muller.