The second week of the Champions League was every bit as thrilling as its predecessor a fortnight ago, as Celtic and Montpellier staged dramatic comebacks and were rewarded for their battling efforts. All of Spain’s representatives – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Malaga – cantered to victories during the course of the two days, while the same could be said for three of the four English clubs; Chelsea’s 4-0 triumph over Nordsjaelland a particular highlight.
However, disappointment lay in store for Juventus, who are still without a win on their return to the competition, and Bayern Munich, following their spectacular collapse against BATE in Minsk. Goal.com is now here to present you with the definitive list of stars from the round.
Starting at the back, Manchester City No.1 Joe Hart edged out Christian Abbiati for the goalkeeper’s jersey by the slightest of margins by denying Borussia Dortmund’s attackers time and time again in a thrilling 1-1 draw.
In front of him is Mikael Lustig, who takes the right-back berth following his rampaging performance down the flank for Celtic, sending in a cross to put the side on their way to an eventual success in Russia. Leonardo Bonucci was arguably the pick of the Bianconeri‘s stoppers, and along with a thunderous drive to earn the team a point, his inclusion at centre-back is justified. Partnering him is Douglao, whose reading of Braga’s 2-0 win at Galatasaray proved hugely influential, and on the left is Eliseu, after the Portugal international produced a pair of sumptuous strikes.
A surplus of midfielders stood out on matchday one, but it was a tougher call this time around. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more dominant performance than Manuel Iturra‘s against Anderlecht. The Chilean bossed the middle of the park and was the driving force behind Malaga’s emphatic win. Cesc Fabregas‘ renaissance as a Barca player is also continuing thanks to another cultured showing against Benfica, capped off by a fine strike to seal all three points at the Estadio da Luz. And serving as the pinnacle is Mario Gotze, whose mesmeric movement in and around the box did not give City defenders a minute rest, making him worthy of filling our central attacking role in behind.
However, despite the wildcard nomination of Colombian prodigy James Rodriguez, a match-winner for Porto down the left-hand side against PSG, the two heavyweights returned to our chosen XI this week.
On the right flank is Cristiano Ronaldo, who was at his devastating best for the Blancos in Amsterdam, netting a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory. And last but not least, Lionel Messi is tasked with leading the line. The Argentine may not have scored again, but nonetheless put in a masterful performance, providing assists for both of his side’s goals in Lisbon.