Champions League group stage 2020 | Best XI
Manchester United and Inter Milan were among the giants of the game to crash out in the Champions League group stage, while Real Madrid survived a big scare. The Champions League draw for the last 16 has now been decided, throwing up some enticing clashes for the knockout rounds. But which players stood out during the opening few weeks of this year’s tournament? We’ve put together our top Champions League team for the group stage, featuring no more than one player from each side.
GK: Anatolii Trubin (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Twin wins over Real Madrid almost took Shakhtar to the next round, with the performances of their young goalkeeper Trubin crucial in both victories against Los Blancos. The 19-year-old kept three clean sheets, though a poor individual performance in a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach showed his lack of experience.
Trubin was particularly outstanding in Shakhtar’s goalless draw against Inter.
DF: Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax)
Ajax will be playing in the Europa League after Christmas, having failed to come through a tough Group D, but Mazraoui’s performances at right-back were a highlight for the Dutch giants.
The Morocco international recorded an average of 3.2 tackles per game during the group stage, as well as 2.3 interceptions per game, ranking near the top in the tournament for both metrics.
DF: Cristian Romero (Atalanta)
Atalanta went into matchday six needing at least a draw away to Ajax to seal qualification. The Serie A side duly came up with a terrific defensive display with Romero key at the back in a 1-0 win that booked their place in the next round.
Romero was also brilliant when Atalanta recorded a shock 2-0 win at Anfield against Liverpool.
DF: Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich)
Defending champions Bayern cruised through the group stage with Sule contributing to very efficient defensive performances as they topped Group A with ease.
Bayern only conceded two goals in the four group stage games that Sule played this season, while the centre-back also found the net in the 2-0 home win against Lokomotiv Moscow. Sule earned the man of the match award for his dominant defensive display in that game.
DF: Angelino (RB Leipzig)
Knocking out Manchester United will have been extra sweet for Angelino, with the left-sided defender on loan at Leipzig from Manchester City.
Angelino contributed three goals and three assists for Leipzig in the group stage, with the Netherlands international a constant threat down the flank. That Leipzig lost 5-0 to United in the group stage but still qualified was largely down to Angelino.
MF: Dominik Szoboszlai (Salzburg)
Hungarian starlet Szoboszlai is expected to be on the move in the January transfer window after shining for Salzburg during the group stage.
With 2.3 key passes per game, Szoboszlai’s creativity was on show and he also scored twice, including a sensational 20-yard strike from outside the penalty area against Lokomotiv Moscow.
MF: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
United might be heading for the Europa League, but Fernandes could not have done much more to help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side during the Champions League group stage.
Fernandes found the net four times during the group games, with his brace in United’s home win against Istanbul Basaksehir having seemingly set up the team for qualification.
MF: Juan Cuadrado (Juventus)
No player recorded more assists than Cuadrado’s tally of five in the group stage.
The Juventus star has become a more important player for his team than ever before since the appointment of Andrea Pirlo as the team’s new head coach.
Cuadrado was a key player in Juve’s 3-0 win at Barcelona, which clinched top spot in Group G.
FW: Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
Critics of Neymar often claim he fails to deliver the performances expected, but he certainly turned up during the group stage.
The Brazil superstar wrapped up the Champions League group stage with a superb treble against Istanbul Basaksehir, having also hit a double against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
PSG still crave the Champions League trophy above everything else and, if they are to go one step better than last year, Neymar remains their most important player.
FW: Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
Edging out Lazio striker Ciro Immobile for the central striking role is Haaland, who sat joint top of the scoring charts for the group stage after hitting six strikes.
A pair of braces against Club Brugge helped to confirm the 20-year-old’s status as one of the most exciting young players in world football right now.
Haaland scored 10 Champions League goals last season but is on track to be even more prolific in his second campaign in the competition.
FW: Diogo Jota (Liverpool)
New Reds signing Jota immediately set to work paying off his transfer fee after joining Liverpool from Wolves, scoring four goals to secure the last spot in our team of the group stage.
The Portugal international was expected to play a backup role for the Premier League champions, but a hat-trick in the 5-0 win at Atalanta has made it hard to leave him out of our team of the Champions League group stage.
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