Champions League

Champions League Top Three of the Week: Joao Cancelo stars for Man City

The Portuguese defender was once again asked to play left-back by Pep Guardiola, but excelled in his role out wide

 
12:08pm on Thursday 25th February 2021
By
Martin Macdonald

The Champions League last 16 first leg matches have been completed, with huge wins for the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich.

In the first matches in the round last week, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland turned heads following their outstanding performances for PSG and Dortmund respectively, scoring five goals between them.

In the second week of first leg games, who impressed?

TOP CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PERFORMERS

João Cancelo
D (RL) - Man City - 26 yrs
MAN OF THE MATCH
90'
8.7
Feb 24, 2021
90Minutes played
1Assists
1Total shots
3Crosses
21Final third passes
4Dribbles
7Duels won
118Touches

With Kyle Walker being restored to the starting XI for Manchester City's game against Gladbach, Joao Cancelo was once again asked by Pep Guardiola to play on the left-hand side of the back four.

And, once again, Cancelo impressed out of position.

The fact that the Portuguese was facing down the left flank of the pitch meant that he was able to turn inside on to his right foot and pick out crosses and passes which proved an unconventional problem for Gladbach to deal with.

Indeed, it was from a situation like this which led to the opening goal, as Cancelo cut inside on his favoured right foot to whip a cracking cross to the back post for Bernardo Silva to nod home.

He completed 86/92 attempted passes, with 21 of them being sent into the final third.

Though Cancelo made five ball recoveries, he could have performed better in his duels as he only won 7/17.

Cesar Azpilicueta
D (RL) - Chelsea - 31 yrs
MAN OF THE MATCH
90'
8.5
Feb 23, 2021
90Minutes played
1Shots on target
2Tackles won
43Final third passes
9Duels won
6Aerials won
85Successfull passes %
117Touches

While Cancelo disappointed in his duels, Cesar Azpilicueta was dominant in his as he won 9/11 versus Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

The Spaniard is flourishing playing on the right of a back three under new manager Thomas Tuchel, and continued his good form from the Premier League into European action.

Though Azipilicueta would impress in his passing as he completed 88/103 with 43 being sent into the final third, his defensive prowess was more vital to Chelsea gaining the vital 1-0 away win.

He won 100% of his tackles (2/2) and 100% of his aerial duels (6/6), while he also made four ball recoveries, one interception, and four clearances.

Toni Kroos
M, DM (C) - Real Madrid - 31 yrs
MAN OF THE MATCH
90'
8.5
Feb 24, 2021
90Minutes played
2Total shots
154Touches
129Passes completed
93Successfull passes %
49Final third passes
7Ball recovered
6Crosses

The pass master of this week's Champions League games was, naturally, Real Madrid's Toni Kroos.

With Atalanta going down to 10 men early on, that allowed Los Blancos to dominate possession throughout the game, which played right to Kroos' strengths as a ball player.

He completed more passes than anyone this week with 129, with more being sent into the final third than anyone, too, with 49.

Against the Italian side, he would touch the ball a remarkable 154 times.

He would send six successful crosses into the box, too, with some coming from set-pieces.

Defensively, he won 4/6 duels, 2/2 tackles, and made seven ball recoveries.

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