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Champions League best XI: Mbappe, Son and Sane lead top performers

Champions League team of the first legs.
The Champions League's best performers from this week.

We're halfway through the Champions League round of 16, but who were the stars of the first leg ties? Here's the best XI from the eight games so far.

Goalkeeper - Anthony Lopes (Lyon)

Barcelona rained in 25 shots on the Lyon goal but found Lopes in place to thwart the five that were on target, leaving the tie finely poised at 0-0. He saved well from Lionel Messi and, most eyecatchingly of all, acrobatically tipped over a late Sergio Busquets effort to ensure a valuable home clean sheet for the underdogs. You sense he will require better protection at the Camp Nou if Lyon are to pull off a shock, though.

Right-back - Serge Aurier (Tottenham)

Aurier has not been the most consistent of performers for Spurs but in the resounding 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund he epitomised the team at their best. The Ivorian was solid at the back and full of ideas going forward, as shown by the outstanding delivery from which Jan Vertonghen scored their second goal. On this kind of form at least, Aurier looks like one of the best attacking full-backs in the world.

Centre-back - Fabinho (Liverpool)

Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski might have been forgiven for licking his lips at the news that Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk would be suspended for the Anfield leg. But Fabinho is a classy customer, deputising expertly for the Dutchman and, along with Joel Matip, ensured the Poland international barely had a kick all night. He may not be a specialist centre-back but Fabinho's timing, distribution and game sense are up there with the best; he is, however, likely to be required in midfield by Liverpool at the Allianz Arena upon Van Dijk's return.

Centre-back - Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid)

Gimenez and Diego Godin are best known for forming an impenetrable defensive barrier in a stubborn Atletico team. But against Juventus they were the unlikely match winners at the other end and it was Gimenez, reacting sharply to a loose ball in the box and flashing a shot past Wojciech Szczesny, who got them started 12 minutes from time. Godin produced a similarly impressive finish shortly afterwards and the pair also performed admirably in keeping Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala at bay.

Left-back - Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax)

Ajax deserved far better than a 2-1 home defeat to Real Madrid and might have got it had Tagliafico's header not been controversially ruled out by VAR for offside against Dusan Tadic. Tagliafico was, like most of his teammates, on song all night and handled the threat of Gareth Bale superbly; the regret is that, for such a talented Ajax side, it was probably not enough to give them a realistic chance of reaching the quarterfinals.

Central midfield - Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich)

Many long-term Bayern watchers felt Martinez's performance at Anfield was his best for several years. He was a towering figure in midfield throughout a match that was always going to be a battle, protecting his defence and ensuring Bayern never quite lost control even as they sat increasingly deeper in the second half. He has the Champions League savvy to guide them through a return leg that looks tantalisingly poised.

Central midfield - Marco Verratti (PSG)

At his best, is there any midfielder in Europe who can match Verratti? He was imperious in the 2-0 win at Manchester United, seemingly a step ahead of everyone else at times and pulling the strings for a side that looked far better-balanced than on previous big European nights. While the focus often lies on PSG's attackers, their hopes of a Champions League crown may more accurately rest on whether they can keep the outstanding Italian fit.

Nicolo Zaniolo scored twice in AS Roma's victory over Porto.

Right wing - Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)

Still a teenager, Zaniolo announced himself to the wider world with an excellent brace against Porto. His first goal, fired expertly into the far corner past Iker Casillas after he appeared to have miscontrolled, was clinically taken while his second, a rebound from close range after Edin Dzeko's daisy-cutter had thudded the post, showed the poacher's instinct Roma may yet need in the second leg.

Attacking midfield - Son Heung-Min (Tottenham)

Nobody can really described Son as an underrated threat these days. What a player he has turned into and his deadlock-breaker against Borussia Dortmund, expertly volleyed home after the break, may yet prove one of the season's most important goals. He was a buzzing, scheming threat throughout, turning up all over the pitch to trouble the Bundesliga leaders. You never quite know where Son will arrive next to inflict harm; it is a fair bet that he will have a chance to be at it again in the last eight, though.

Left wing - Leroy Sane (Manchester City)

Sane had been kept under wraps by Pep Guardiola for most of his return to former club Schalke, but when the call arrived he delivered in sensational fashion. The winger replaced Sergio Aguero in the 78th minute with Manchester City a goal -- and a man -- down. Seven minutes later he had stepped up and cracked in a free kick that will surely not be bettered in this season's Champions League. He found the top corner, striking the ball with precision and venom to pull City level and set up a finale in which Raheem Sterling secured a 3-2 win. It was some homecoming.

Centre-forward - Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

No Cavani? No Neymar? No problem. Mbappe scorched down the Old Trafford turf to score what could be a decisive second goal for PSG, making ground at unbelievable speed to reach Angel Di Maria's delivery and touch it past David De Gea. It crowned a performance that showed he can be terrifyingly potent without his fellow star forwards. He was electric and a similar performance in the second leg would probably put the tie beyond Old Gunnar Solskjaer's men.


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