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A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled into an XI from across Europe’s top seven leagues. You can read this for all details on Talent Radar, who is eligible under it and what else we publish within this feature.
[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2016 – 21 years old and below for outfield players // 22 years old and below for goalkeepers]
While love-birds across the world celebrated Valentine’s Day last week, football fans celebrated the return of the UEFA Champions League and the chaotic competition it generally throws up. The group stages of the Champions league can often be dull and boring, but the same cannot be said of the knockout rounds, as managers and players need to be on edge to ensure they dont concede the vital space to their opponents. The shock result of the week had to be from Paris, as PSG humbled the mighty Barcelona 4-0 to establish their claim as one of the top European sides going.
Defence: Benfica have long been dominant in Portugal, and look like they will remain so, with their current lead in the Liga NOS standings. A 1-0 win against Dortmund at home in the Champions League though is a big result, as Benfica now travel to Germany with a lead to protect, in their bid to end the mysterious curse on their European success. Moraes was one of the best players for his team on the night, making 5 saves, and even keeping a penalty kick out.
His teammate, Victor Lindelof wasn’t far behind. The Swede has earned a lot of praise for his performances this season, and rightly so. In a backs to the wall performance against a vibrant Dortmund side, he made 4 interceptions, keeping dangerous players like Marco Reus at bay. Such performances have meant that Lindelof has been in high demand, just like the Genting bonus offer; the Sweden will certainly be attracting potential suitors in the next window making it more difficult for Benfica to hold onto their prize possession.
Alongside him at center back, is another Champions League performer, Presnel Kimpembe. The young defender put on a fine show at the Parc Des Princes against Barcelona, looking very comfortable defending against the likes of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar as PSG cruised to a spectacular win. The future looks bright for both Kimpembe, and his team, after he has broken through the ranks and earned his place in the starting XI at PSG.
Making a comeback to this team in Benjamin Henrichs. The prodigious young defender has been touted as a future star, and after a tough recent run, he’s back in the mix of things. He was very effective at the back in his side’s 1-3 win away at Leverkusen, making 6 tackles and 4 interceptions over the course of the match, keeping the door firmly shut on the opposition.
The left back, Robert Bauer put in a similar performance as Bremen scored an impressive away win at Mainz, keeping a clean sheet and scoring twice in the process. Bauer was important for the former, making 6 interceptions in all for his side.
Midfield: Starting off the midfield trio is the impressive Corentin Tolisso. The Lyon man featured near the top of our midfield rankings, especially at the start of the season, but has since fallen behind the pace a bit, much like his team. A great performance from him this particular weekend brings him back into the limelight though. 2 goals and 4 shots on target in a barnstorming performance won Lyon the game 4-2. He was in the midst of the action going forward, and even made 5 key passes.
Though not as prolific as his partner, Leandro Paredes also managed to get on the scoresheet in Roma’s heavy win over Torino, earning the Argentine his place on the team sheet for this week.
The third member of this incredible midfield trio is the talented Ruben Neves. The excellent ball playing midfielder too, managed to find the back of the net this weekend in a domineering win for the Dragons at home. He was slick on the ball as well, making 74 passes at almost a 90% completion rate.
Forwards: Making his first appearance in the ToTW for this season is Gyrano Kerk. The youngster usually sees his teammate, Sebastien Haller in our rankings and teams, but a good performance for his side, including a goal and an assist over the weekend against PEC Zwolle mean that he too, has earned place. The first of many such appearances for the youngster, one hopes.
While a goal and an assist are good enough for Kerk to win a spot in the side, the same performance has seen Francois Kamano retain his place in the team of the week. Bordeaux bounced back well from a thrashing at the hands of PSG last week with an impressive win, and the forward once again played a starring role in the win.
Our third forward will repeat the trick to make it back into the team after a short hiatus. Timo Werner has been a regular name on this team, and his good work has kept Leipzig’s fairy tale alive. This weekend, he’s fired them back into the title race with a goal and an assist. They’re only 5 points behind the leaders now, and that’s a very positive sign for them.