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U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #13: Calvert-Lewin, Gnabry and Harit feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Young Players 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. 

[Max. Age Limit: 22 years old on match-day for outfield players, 23 years old for goalkeepers]

Lille got their first win in four games after a 1-0 home win over Toulouse. Whilst this key result was nearly taken away by a awful penalty decision from the referee in favour of the away side, keeper Mike Maignan ensured his side got all three points by saving the subsequent penalty from Andy Delort at the ninety minute mark. This crucial stop along with a few minors saves earlier were enough to earn Maignan a spot in our XI this week.

Feyenoord’s mini-revival is in full swing with the defending champions now having won two games in a row having not won a single game for nearly two months before that. Bart Nieuwkoop has been at the forefront of this turn of fortunes, putting in another solid performance as Feyenoord got a well fought 1-0 win over Vitesse. The Dutchman was defensively important, as he has been in the preceding four games having established himself in the side after missing the first couple of months with a hamstring injury.

Kevin Akpoguma takes his place in the centre of defence after Hoffenheim’s resounding 4-0 victory over RB Leipzig. In what was expected to be a difficult game for the home side given Leipzig’s dynamic attack, Akpoguma and his defensive partners held firm for a famous victory. The 22-year-old Akpoguma even managed an assist with a simple long ball over the top for Serge Gnabry’s who scored the first of his two goals. Partnering Akpoguma in defence is Bilbao’s 20-year-old Unai Nunez who had to be a sharp in Athletic Bilbao’s 0-0 stalemate against champions Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo and his attacking co were left frustrated at the end of the ninety as the Basque club heaped more misery on Real as they failed to take advantage of Barcelona’s earlier dropped points.

Rio Ave’s Yuri Ribeiro is the only Portuguese Primeira Liga player in this week’s team as he helped his side to a 3-1 away victory over Tondela. With the score tied at a goal a piece, Ribeiro helped create two goals and lead his side to victory. A marauding run down the channel followed by a clever cut back helped set up Guedes for the sides’ second; he then set his namesake Ruben Ribeiro off for a sole effort to seal the victory.

A three man central midfield sees Houssem Auoar make another appearance in his breakthrough season as he was involved in Lyon’s 2-1 away victory over Caen. The 19-year-old’s in-game intelligence continues to impress in another mature performance – seven tackles, three interceptions and an eighty-three percent pass completion rate would have certainly impressed Bruno Genesio. Lazio got back to winning ways in a 2-1 away win over Sampdoria after having failed to pick up three points in the Serie A since late October. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic impressed as he left in late against Sampdoria, the Serbian scored the equaliser ten minutes from time after a scramble in the box before Felipe Caicedo got a stoppage time winner. The midfielder had a terrific all-round game having won seven headers, three tackles and further five dribbles. The 22-year-old has certainly grown in to a well crafted midfielder, offering something on both ends of the pitch and controlling proceedings in midfield.

The tip of the three man midfield is completed by Schalke’s Amine Harit who was electric in the side’s 2-2 draw with Koln at home. The Moroccan has now scored in back-to-back games but arguably had his best game in a Schalke shirt in this draw on the weekend. Harit got his side’s second of the game with a persevering run in the box followed by a neat finish, the 20-year-old also set up four other chances, had five dribbles and another three tackles though he and his team-mates will be disappointed they managed to only earn a point against Bundesliga’s bottom club.

Speaking of whom, Koln finally had something to cheer about with a 2-2 draw away to Schalke – arguably the biggest high of their domestic season. Frenchman Sehrou Guirassy scored twice as Koln came from behind twice to earn just their third point of the season. Guirassy struck both goals in the second half, the first a poachers effort right after half time, and the second from the penalty spot just five minutes after Harit’s goal. Despite the point, Koln sacked boss Peter Stöger who helped the German side into Europe for the first time in 25 years – having not won in the Bundesliga this season, a run of fourteen games, was hard to ignore though.

Another club that have had a questionable start to the season, though seem to be turning things around are Everton. They made it two wins in a row with a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield. Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin had a part to play in both goals, first with a neat back-heel flick to set up Gylfi Sigurdsson for the opener, before scoring the second himself having played through on goal.

Serge Gnabry has had a rather difficult start to his Hoffenheim career, having missed much of the opening four months of football through two separate injuries. But now fully fit, he made up for lost time in the 4-0 win over Leipzig. His first goal came after a run through on goal followed by a decent finish past the keeper – though both the striker and keeper could have done better with their efforts. There can be no criticism of his second though, receiving the ball at the half-way line the German let fly from long ranger and past Peter Gulacsi in goal, leaving supporters in awe.

Read all our Talent Radar Team of the Week articles here

Sami Faizullah

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