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Paris Saint-Germain players dominate Champions League Team of the Week

With another wild week in the Champions League in the bag, let's see who's made ESPN FC's Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas -- Real Madrid

In truth, this wasn't a good week for goalkeepers in the Champions League. Manuel Neuer and Fabiano basically had nothing to do for Bayern Munich and Porto (the latter's main contribution was to knock out teammate Danilo after dashing out of his goal for no real reason), Basel's Tomas Vaclik and Shakhtar Donetsk's Andriy Pyatov conceded 11 goals between them, while even Thibaut Courtois had a few dodgy moments and could have done better with Thiago Silva's goal that eventually knocked Chelsea out.

Iker Casillas' performance wasn't by any means flawless either, which might seem like the mother of all understatements considering he let in four goals, but he deserves plenty of credit for making a couple of crucial saves and one excellent catch as the game reached its conclusion and Schalke threatened to knock Real Madrid out. And all of this under some fearful abuse from his own fans, who whistled and jeered his every move -- when you're as much of a club legend as Casillas is at the Bernabeu, abuse like that must be difficult to take. Perhaps he should be criticised for conceding so many times, but under the circumstances he should also be praised for doing his bit to keep his side in the competition too.

Defence: David Luiz -- PSG

The idea of this Team of the Week is to base assessments of players on their all-round performance and contributions to their team, the result and indeed the spectacle. However, sometimes it's worth making selections based on just one moment, and David Luiz provided one of those, with his header to draw PSG level in their game against Chelsea. It had everything, the perfect aesthetic moment, the hirsute Brazilian flying through the air and powering the header, with that mass of hair going everywhere, and directing the ball in via the crossbar. Goals like that are brilliant to watch, a mass of muscle and sinew propelling the football in a spectacular manner, and for this reason Luiz earns a spot in our team.

ESPN FC's Champions League Team of the Week.
ESPN FC's Champions League Team of the Week.

Defence: Maxwell -- PSG

Of course Luiz contributed to a fine defensive effort at Stamford Bridge, and so did Maxwell. Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn't have many complimentary things to say about assorted teammates in his autobiography, but one man he seemed to be a big fan of was the versatile Brazilian, with whom he has played at Ajax, Inter, Barcelona and now Paris Saint-Germain. And while Maxwell is hardly the most sparkling name in the Parisian ranks, he put in a fine performance in his side's victory, frustrating the Chelsea players from the off, with Oscar irked so much that he had to be withdrawn at half-time before he got himself sent off. From wherever he was watching after his dismissal, one assumes Zlatan approved.

Defence: Jerome Boateng -- Bayern Munich

It was party time in Munich as Bayern simply bulldozed Shakhtar Donetsk, the contest effectively over in the fourth minute after Olexandr Kucher was sent off for felling Mario Gotze. From that point, Bayern did the decent thing and at least had some fun, as the best team in the competition very much should after their hugely inferior opponents are reduced to 10 men, and surprisingly enough the best player on the pitch was a defender. Jerome Boateng didn't have a huge amount of defending to do, so he set about picking the Ukrainian side to pieces, scoring one and setting up another couple as the Bavarians showed Chelsea exactly how to deal with ten men. It was quite an exhibition, and Boateng was a key performer.

Jerome Boateng nets in Bayern's seven-goal rout of Shakhtar.

Centre-midfield: Bastian Schweinsteiger -- Bayern

Of course, Bayern needed someone a little further up the pitch to direct operations too, and there are still few better at that in the world than Bastian Schweinsteiger. Looking at the team selected by Pep Guardiola before kickoff, it looked like Schweinsteiger might have a slightly thankless task, given that he was the only player in front of the back four that had anything close to defensive instincts, playing behind a flair-filled four of Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Goetze and Thomas Mueller. Of course, after the sending-off Schweinsteiger didn't have quite as much defensive responsibility as he might otherwise would, so was free to conduct the destruction of Shakhtar, which he did with some gusto.

Centre-midfield: Marco Verratti -- PSG

"It seems like he almost wanted to play with 10 men," said Thierry Henry after the game, about PSG's playmaker Marco Verratti. The Italian is still only 22, but he was absurdly composed at Stamford Bridge, demanding the ball at all possible opportunities and playing the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic off the park. Verratti barely gave the ball away all night (if you go in for such statistics, his pass completion rate was 92 percent), and while one could criticise the admittedly very quiet Fabregas for going missing in a big match, in truth he was barely allowed to play by Verratti, but also Blaise Matuidi and Adrien Rabiot. It was a fine collective effort, but the Italian was at the centre of it.

Left-midfield: Christian Fuchs -- Schalke

Much of the attention after Tuesday night's game in Madrid was on the subpar performance from the home team, and the subsequent reaction of their fans, but it should be remembered that Schalke, a side who have rather struggled for consistency this season, pulled off a famous win, even if it wasn't enough to send them through. A big part of that was Christian Fuchs, playing at left wing-back, and doing much more attacking than he did defending, causing Alvaro Arbeloa some dreadful problems down the Bernabeu flank. Fuchs chipped in with a goal and an assist, the former smacked home to give his side an early lead, the latter a neat pass to set up Leroy Sane for a measured curler as Real panicked and very nearly went out.

Right-midfield: Yacine Brahimi -- Porto

Fairly quietly, Porto are making fine progress in this season's Champions League. The Portuguese side cruised through their group, not losing a game and conceding just four goals in their six matches, and made comfortable progress to the quarterfinals with a convincing victory over Basel. And once again, a key factor in that progression was the increasingly impressive Yacine Brahimi, who set his side on their way with a brilliant curling, dipping free kick, then laid on the second, teeing Hector Herrera up to curl home and essentially end the tie. Brahimi was only signed last summer, but Porto are never shy about selling their talent on for a profit, and they might have a few clubs interested in the Algerian should he carry on like this for the rest of the season.

Yacine Brahimi celebrates after scoring Porto's first in their rout of FC Basel.

Forward: Javier Pastore -- PSG

Javier Pastore has not exactly been a fixture in the PSG side this season, injuries and his occasionally flakey form meaning that in recent weeks he has often had to make do with substitute appearances. However, he was included from the start against Chelsea, and that was one of the better decisions Laurent Blanc made, because the Argentinean was excellent, particularly after his role changed considerably following the dismissal of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. From the start Pastore was largely stationed on the right, drifting in to support Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani, but following the red card he was given a more disciplined brief, his job to help with the running from the front required in such a situation. In both roles he was excellent, and while he didn't directly contribute to either goal, he was a big reason for PSG's terrific performance at Stamford Bridge.

Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo -- Real Madrid

And so, the record changes hands. Which it will probably do again next week. In the quarterfinals. Cristiano Ronaldo overtook Leo Messi's Champions League scoring record with his brace against Schalke on Tuesday, as the pair continue to play tennis with landmarks, batting them back and forth and all the while making it look less likely that anyone will ever catch them. The question "What would Real do without Ronaldo?" was asked a number of times as he twice saved them from ignominy, equalising a couple of times as Schalke took unlikely leads, and it's a valid query. Ronaldo has been in a relative slump in recent weeks, but one genius' slump is a mortal's respectable run; Ronaldo scored only three goals in his previous seven games, but obviously he won't be quiet for long, and showed as much with a couple of crucial strikes in the Bernabeu.

Forward: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar -- Schalke

He's a slightly strange player, is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The Dutch forward has scored goals throughout his career, from Heerenveen to Ajax to Schalke, but hasn't quite succeeded at the two big clubs he has represented. One of those was Real Madrid, where he started brilliantly but faded away, before the club spent millions on Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Therefore, it would have been sweet for the Dutchman to bag a brace at the Bernabeu on Tuesday night, as his Schalke side won the battle but lost the war, eliminated on aggregate. The first was a classic poacher's effort, snaffling a rebound to give his side some hope, but the second was a magnificent strike, hammered in off the underside of the bar and not giving Iker Casillas a sniff of saving it. In the end his efforts were in vain, but they were still excellent.

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.


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