Sunday, March 29

Champions League Team of the Week - Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Gabriel Jesus

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Sports Mole selects its Champions League team of the week for the final round of group games, including Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Gabriel Jesus.

The Champions League group stage came to an end this week, with all four English teams safely through to the last 16.

Holders Liverpool and Chelsea still had work to do on matchday six but got their jobs done with victories over Red Bull Salzburg and Lille respectively, while Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur had already booked their place in the knockout rounds.

Inter Milan and Ajax were among the casualties as they were consigned to Europa League football, with Inter losing at home to Barcelona and Ajax also falling to defeat in front of their own fans against 10-man Valencia.

Atletico Madrid's victory over Lokomotiv Moscow made it a clean sweep of Spanish teams into the next round too, while Borussia Dortmund, Lyon and Atalanta BC joined them in the knockout stages.

Here, Sports Mole selects its Champions League team of the week for matchday six.

Liverpool were in danger of becoming the first defending champions to be knocked out in the group stage since 2012-13 when they faced a tricky trip to free-scoring Salzburg, and there were scares on the night in what was a thrilling contest which somehow only produced two goals. Both of them went to the Reds, and Alisson Becker's seven saves were a huge factor in the holders avoiding an ignominious early exit.

In front of him are two goalscoring centre-backs, with Felipe netting the second in Atletico's win over Lokomotiv Moscow and Cesar Azpilicueta getting what turned out to be the crucial winning goal to send Chelsea through to the knockout stages.

The likes of Virgil van Dijk, Jean-Clair Todibo, Kalidou Koulibaly and Ferro deserve mentions, but in truth there were not too many outstanding defensive performances this week and the full-backs are again chosen largely for their impact going forward.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo contributed an assist for Napoli in their comfortable win over Genk, while Alphonso Davies was a constant threat down the left during Bayern Munich's win over Tottenham, helping himself to an assist as well as hitting the woodwork.

The performances of those in forward positions mean that it is a particularly attacking team this week, placing even more emphasis on Thomas Partey in the middle of the park. The Atletico Madrid man produced a complete performance as Diego Simeone's side safely booked their passage through, winning four aerial duels, five tackles and ending the match with a 92% pass success rate.

Alongside him in midfield is quite possibly the future of Man City, with Phil Foden firing another reminder of his prodigious talent. The 19-year-old capped off the scoring against Dinamo Zagreb having earlier provided an assist too, and he looks increasingly ready to take up the torch from David Silva next season.

Naby Keita, Luka Modric, Dani Parejo, Philippe Coutinho and Tomas Soucek were all in contention for midfield spots, while there was plenty of competition for the forward roles too with Sadio Mane, Dries Mertens, Pizzi, Willian and Rodrygo all considered.

However, it was impossible to leave out any of our front four this week. Paris Saint-Germain were the biggest winners of the week as they ran riot against Galatasaray, and they could have easily had Leandro Paredes and Pablo Sarabia in this team too.

Instead, the French champions must settle for their two biggest stars, who combined to devastating effect. Neymar is seemingly well and truly back to his best after his latest injury absence, having scored once and created two more, while Kylian Mbappe was not to be outdone and matched that haul of one goal and two assists.

Two hat-trick heroes lead the line this week, with Arkadiusz Milik making history as the first Napoli player to score three goals in a single Champions League game. The returning striker did it all in the first half too, effectively sealing Napoli's place in the last 16 with a 38th-minute penalty which also secured him the match ball.

While Milik benefitted from some questionable goalkeeping for his treble, there was nothing the Zagreb keeper could do about Gabriel Jesus's. The Brazilian's first and third saw him provide deadly touches from crosses into the box, while his second was the pick of the bunch as he cut inside his man before curling his finish into the bottom far corner.

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