Champions League - Team of the Round: Kraft works

Thu, 24 Feb 09:43:00 2011

Bayern Munich keeper Thomas Kraft tops our list of stand-out players from the first leg of Champions League last 16 games after a sensational performance in between the sticks.

- 0

We selected our XI based on the expert ratings awarded after each game.

GK: Thomas Kraft (Bayern Munich) - The 22-year-old German shot stopper kept Bayern in the game at the Giuseppe Meazza with several key saves, providing the base from which his side could go on to secure a famous win over reigning European champions Internazionale. Fully deserved his clean sheet.

RB: Atsuto Uchida (Schalke) - The Japan right-back was the stand-out performer for the German side in a typically tight defensive performance at the Mestalla. He helped cover his centre-backs from Valencian attacks with some vital headed clearances in the middle.

CB: Chris Smalling (Manchester United) - The youngster was brought in to replace the injured Rio Ferdinand and he was again superb at the back. Imperious in the air and showed some excellent decision-making as he outshone Nemanja Vidic in the shut-out in Marseille.

CB: Souleymane Diawara (Marseille) - Along with Smalling, Diawara was largely responsible for such a turgid game in the south of France, snuffing out the attacking threat of Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney with an assured performance at the back. He won't care that it was a dire game.

LB: Jeremy Mathieu (Valencia) - The Frenchman always posed a threat going forward against Schalke and proved his worth with the cross for Roberto Soldado's goal. Not too shabby defensively either.

CM: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid) - Alonso doesn't get the nod for the probing passes and expert playmaking we saw so often at Liverpool but rather for his defensive work, which was outstanding. He put in a real shift for Jose Mourinho's team and took on the extra responsibility of helping out his back four.

CM: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal) - Playing against the club he may or may not join at some point in the future, the spotlight was always going to be on the former Barcelona trainee. He did not disappoint, putting in an imperious display, both defensively and going forward.

ARM: Aaron Lennon (Tottenham) - A constant thorn in Milan's side with his direct running down the right wing at the San Siro, the Spurs winger also created Peter Crouch's winning goal with some zippy - and not to mention intelligent - play on the counter.

ACM: Jadson (Shakhtar Donetsk) - The Brazilian scored one goal and produced a clever flick to send Douglas Costa on his way to Shakhtar's second at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma never got to grips with his movement, something which Claudio Ranieri - who has since resigned - must surely regret.

ALM: Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) - We could easily have gone for either half of the 'Robbery' pairing after Bayern's superb away win over Inter, but Ribery gets the nod for a menacing all-round display. Was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet after hitting the bar with a header.

FW: Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea) - Two quality runs and two fine finishes from the Frenchman. Anelka led the line superbly against FC Copenhagen and has netted seven times in his last six Champions League matches.


Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account