Matchday One: Hart and Tevez make Champions League Team of the Week
With the Champions League group stage matchday one now in the bag, we take a look at the players who lit up Europe on Tuesday and Wednesday night:
Goalkeeper: When a goalkeeper comes up against Bayern Munich, he usually knows he's in for a busy old time, and so it came to pass for Joe Hart. The Manchester City keeper has shown the best and the worst of his abilities this season, from a terrific performance for England against Switzerland to a couple of iffy ones for his club, but he was tremendous in City's 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich on Wednesday night. City were forced to defend for much of the game, as one might expect, and aside from a flap at a cross (which he subsequently made up for with an excellent save) in the second half, Hart kept out everything Pep Guardiola's side threw at him, until the very last. There was little he could do about Jerome Boateng's deflected shot, and while City lost the game, it would have been much worse without Hart.
Right-back: Arsenal, it has to be said, did not offer the greatest attacking threat in their 2-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. However, their primary danger came from Alexis Sanchez, who largely operated from the left, where he was fairly well dealt with by youngster Erik Durm. The young German looked a bit of a liability in Germany's Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland, but he was much more assured for his club on the right, though he is usually a left-back, even providing plenty of attacking threat as well. The old guard are moving out of the German national side, but if Durm's development continues, the next generation looks fairly secure.
Left-back: John Arne-Riise is something of a cult figure at Liverpool, not just because he was part of that miraculous Champions League-winning side in 2005, but also due to his rampaging runs from deep down the left and his ferocious shots at goal. The early evidence suggests Alberto Moreno has plenty of that about him as well, bombing up and down the flank with abandon, but while Riise's left foot was largely about power, there seems to be a little more finesse about Moreno's. It was he who put the cross in for Mario Balotelli's goal against Ludogorets that the Anfield crowd thought had secured a victory, until Steven Gerrard's injury-time penalty actually did seal the 2-1 win.
Centre-back: While there were obviously more emphatic victories in the opening round of Champions League games, perhaps the result of the week came in Portugal, where Zenit St Petersburg beat Benfica 2-0. Benfica were badly hamstrung by the early dismissal of goalkeeper Artur Moraes, but they still made quite a game of it to say the least, attacking their guests even after being reduced to 10 men. Zenit held out though, thanks partly to a fine performance in goal by Juri Lodygin, but also from their whole defence, notably from Belgian centre-back and skipper Nicolas Lombaerts, who slots into the middle of our back line.
Centre-back: It must be a slightly difficult business to be a defender playing for Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard's tendency to switch formations around could be fairly destabilising, so they need to be fairly flexible to survive in his team. Jerome Boateng perhaps wouldn't be an automatic selection if everyone was available for the Bavarian side, but he was excellent in Bayern's 1-0 win over Manchester City on Wednesday, performing the role that was asked of him, which included getting forwards a good amount as Bayern chased the game. While it would be particularly generous to award him with the clinching goal, which deflected in off Mario Gotze's back, he did enough to stand out for the German giants.
Midfielder: One of the biggest gripes about Arsenal's summer in the transfer market was that they didn't buy a proper holding midfielder, as most of their Premier League rivals did. On Tuesday that failure became stark, with Mikel Arteta -- a decent player but not the sort Arsenal need -- completely overrun in midfield, and much of that was down to the dominant performance of Sven Bender, who helped Borussia Dortmund to control the centre of the park completely in the 2-0 victory. What's perhaps more galling for Arsenal fans is that, when Ilkay Gundogan and Nuri Sahin are both fit, Bender is not even guaranteed a place in the Dortmund first team.
Midfielder: The story goes that when Tottenham arrived in Italy last summer with fistfuls of cash, intent on purchasing one of Roma's creative midfielders, boss Rudi Garcia was asked which of Miralem Pjanic and Erik Lamela he would rather keep. He chose the former, and it's easy to see why. Roma sauntered to a 5-1 win over CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, and while the young Bosnian didn't find the net himself, he was the man, as so often is the case, pulling the strings and generally being at the heart of most good things Roma did. He's a fine talent, and the longer Roma can hang onto him the better.
Midfielder: Few teams have mastered the art of picking up relatively unheralded players and turning them into stars as well as Porto. From Deco to Radamel Falcao to James Rodriguez, with many more before and after, the club have made a profit of some 350 million pounds on transfers in the past decade, and in Yacine Brahimi they could well have found another diamond in the rough. The Algerian midfielder was bought from Granada in the summer, and has made an instant impact, bagging himself a hat trick from midfield as Porto demolished BATE Borisov 6-0 on Wednesday night, one an opportunist strike, one a fine solo effort and one a brilliant free kick, equalling his tally from last season in a single game. Impressive.
Forward: Before Tuesday night's 2-0 win for Juventus over Malmo, Carlos Tevez had gone a whopping 1,988 days without scoring in the Champions League. His last goal came way back in April 2009, notching for Manchester United against Porto, and while the number of days might be rather dramatically inflated (he's made 14 appearances in the top competition in that time), it was still something of a monkey on the back of the Argentinean. However, Tevez broke his duck in some style, scoring both as Juve got their campaign off to a solid start, the second a superb curling free kick from the edge of the area. Just a shame he spoiled things slightly by doing a silly dance in celebration.
Forward: While the practicalities of Florentino Perez's second Galacticos era can, will and have been debated ad nauseum, sometimes it's better just to sit back and either admire or laugh at the ludicrous amount of talent they have out on the pitch every week. Gareth Bale had a slightly iffy start at Real Madrid, presumably as he adjusted from playing with Aaron Lennon to playing with Cristiano Ronaldo, but he has certainly settled now, and at the very least produces some brilliant moments of individual skill. The goal he scored in Real's 5-1 pummelling of FC Basel was the latest, doing the old trick of assisting his own strike, looping the ball high over a hapless goalkeeper then sprinting around him and knocking it into the net. You'd usually say that no other footballer in the world could do that sort of thing, but there are two or three of his teammates who probably could.
Forward: As an English observer, it's easy to default to the image of Gervinho as the same unguided missile he was at Arsenal, occasionally threatening but so unpredictable it was impossible to think of him as anything more substantial. However, since moving to Roma he seems to have found a home, and while he's still not exactly the most consistent player in the world, he is a big part of a team who look like they might be building something reasonably special. The Ivory Coast forward scored a couple and set up another, a terrific slipped pass to Juan Iturbe, as Roma swept CSKA Moscow aside to make the perfect start to their group. Since Manchester City and Bayern Munich will be their other opponents in this phase, he will need to be on similar form in the rest of the competition.
Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.