Champion League

5 Standout Players From 1st Leg

The UEFA Champions League returned with four fascinating quarter-final first-leg matches on Tuesday (April 9) and Wednesday (April 10). Real Madrid and Manchester City played out an eye-catching 3-3 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu while Arsenal held Bayern Munich to a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night. The following night, Barcelona beat Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) 3-2 away from whereas Atletico Madrid clinched a narrow 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Spanish capital.

Unsurprisingly, we were treated to some sensational performances throughout the four UEFA Champions League quarter-final matches. Continue reading to check out the top five players who stood out over the European Gameweek:

#5 Vitinha – PSG

Vitinha PSG
Vitinha Scored A Fine Goal In The 3-2 Defeat To Barcelona

PSG central midfielder Vitinha was easily the home side’s standout performer in their 3-2 defeat to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night (April 10). He dictated the tempo with his crisp passes, created multiple goalscoring opportunities, and applied an excellent finish to put PSG 2-1 up in a blistering passage of play in the second half.

In the 50th minute, the Portugal international got on the end of Fabian Ruiz’s pass into the Barcelona box, opened up a bit of shooting space, and rolled his finish past Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The brilliant goal aside, Vitinha completed 82 of 84 passes, created three chances, and played 12 passes into the final third. He also delivered five accurate long balls, performed five clearances, and made four recoveries.

#4 Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid

Antoine Griezmann Was One Of The BEst Players Of Champions League QF 1st Leg
Antoine Griezmann Provided An Assist In Atletico Madrid’s Win Over Borussia Dortmund

Unlike the other four players on this list, Atletico Madrid legend Antoine Griezmann did not score in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg. His goal involvement in the form of a fine assist as Los Rojiblancos beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the Civitas Metropolitano Stadium on Wednesday night (April 10).

In the 32nd minute, the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner pounced on the ball and picked up Samuel Dias Lino with a gem of a lobbed pass just inside the area. The left midfielder gracefully brought the pass down before rolling his finish underneath Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel.

Griezmann, UEFA Player of the Match for Atletico Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund, created a whopping six chances on Wednesday night. He also delivered four accurate crosses and long balls, won both attempted tackles, performed eight recoveries, and won five of seven duels. A 10/10 display from the 33-year-old!

#3 Federico Valverde – Real Madrid

Federico Valverde Was One Of The Best Performers Of UCL QF 1st Leg
Fede Valverde Scored A Superb Volley Against Manchester City

Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid held last season’s Treble winners Manchester City to a breathtaking 3-3 draw in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday night (April 9). It was a mixed bag for the hosts, as some of their top players failed to live up to expectations, which kept Madrid from carrying an advantage to next week’s return leg at the Etihad Stadium.

Federico Valverde is one of the few Real Madrid players who performed even better than expected against Manchester City. He enjoyed the high-intensity tussles throughout the 90 minutes and topped it off with a world-class volley to save the day. Showing no signs of fatigue, the Uruguayan charged into the City box in the 79th minute, applying a first-time finish to Vinicius Jr.’s cross to make it 3-3 for the home side. The goal was only the cherry on top, as his performance would have been noteworthy even without it.

He completed 22 of 26 passes against City, created a chance, kept two of his three shots on target, and delivered three accurate long balls. Valverde also won both his tackles, made five recoveries, and came out on top in four duels.

#2 Phil Foden – Manchester City

Manchester City's Phil Foden Was Brilliant In UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg
Phil Foden Won The UEFA Player of the Match Award Against Real Madrid

Manchester City ace Phil Foden fired on all cylinders in the 3-3 draw with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday night. The England international linked up superbly with his teammates, knocked the ball around effortlessly, and scored a phenomenal goal to top off a scintillating performance.

The Manchester City academy graduate had been knocking on the door from the first half, but his efforts finally bore fruit in the final half-hour of the game. In the 66th minute, Foden spotted some room just outside the Real Madrid box. And with Toni Kroos choosing to step back, he got the license to dispatch an impeccable curler. The ball swung beautifully toward the outside to zip past Andriy Lunin and nestle into the top-left corner.

In addition to scoring an excellent goal, Foden completed 43 passes with 93% accuracy, pulled off a dribble, made three recoveries, and won two ground duels. For his efforts, Foden took home UEFA’s Player of the Match Award.

#1 Raphinha – Barcelona

Barcelona's Raphinha Was One Of The Best Performers Of UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals
Barcelona Ace Raphinha Scored Twice Against PSG

Brazilian winger Raphinha made headlines with his sensational performance in Barcelona’s 3-2 win over PSG in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night. The former Leeds United winger chipped in with two goals, on either side of half-time, first putting the Blaugrana in front and then equalizing for them.

In the 37th minute, Raphinha showed his positional awareness to latch on to Lamine Yamal’s parried cross into the area. He then sent it beyond Gianluigi Donnarumma and into the back of the net, giving Barca the start they were looking for. Raphinha struck again in the 62nd minute, this time brilliantly catching Pedri’s lobbed pass into the box and sending it into the bottom left corner with a sumptuous volley. Before coming off in the 76th minute, Raphinha created three chances, had four shots on target, completed two dribbles, and won two ground duels.



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