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Champions League Team Of The Round: Last 16 First Legs

Best Formation: 3-5-2

Goalkeeper

Cedric Carrasso - Bordeaux


Carrasso may not have been especially overworked in the Bordeaux goal against Olympiacos, but when he was called into action he responded brilliantly. Late in the game the French side were under pressure but were saved by their goalkeeper whenever their defensive line was broken. A fingertip stop to deny Lomana LuaLua was excellent, but the former Marseille goalkeeper’s reaction block to repel a close range header was arguably even better.

Defence

Lorenzo De Silvestri - Fiorentina


Kept the shackles on Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery and perhaps typified la Viola's overall approach to the game. De Silvestri rarely allowed the Frenchman to pass by using a combination of physicality and tactical discipline. Fiorentina were unlucky not to have been rewarded for their performance with at least a point.

Jean Alain Boumsong - Lyon

A maligned figure throughout his career, there can be little doubt that Boumsong does still have the potential to be an immensely solid centre-back. He realised this against Real Madrid, commanding in the air and solid in the tackle, not allowing any of los Blancos’ world-class forwards room to breathe. An immense showing.

Lucio - Inter


The Brazilian produced one of his vintage performances, combining great skill, power and discipline like no other defender can. In this sense, he is the Drogba of defenders on his day, and he certainly got the better of Chelsea's main man - as well as anyone else he came up against - for the entirety of the evening.

Midfield

Varela - Porto

His early goal against Arsenal may have been a result of a goalkeeping error but Varela left Gael Clichy in his wake and gave the France international a torrid evening. With confidence coarsing through his veins, the wide-man proved to be a world away from the player who once plied his trade for modest Recreativo.


Esteban Cambiasso - Inter


Never a defensive midfielder to have been considered one of the best in the world, but has always been consistent. This season has seen his performances dip, however, but he got back to somewhere near his best when it mattered, giving Chelsea's midfield no time on the ball, shielding his back four extremely well and tipping the balance back in his side's favour with an exceptional instinctive strike from distance.

Darren Fletcher - Manchester United

AC Milan are a team supreme in possession but the storied Italian side got very little time on the ball against Manchester United. The reason? Darren Fletcher. The Scot was deployed wide, rather than centrally, but still made it his business to hassle and harry. His assist for Rooney's second goal was playmaking of the highest order too.


Keisuke Honda - CSKA Moscow


Arguably, the Japan international outshone his more illustrious team-mate, Milos Krasic, on his Champions League debut. The former VVV Venlo playmaker was at the heart of the Russian side's play, linking midfield and attack through the central area. Unlucky not to have scored at least once. An encouraging show.

Ronaldinho - AC Milan


The Milan left-sider has been on fire this season and his performance against Manchester United emphasised his claim to be one of the world's foremost attackers. A goal and an assist told only part of the story as the Brazilian tore through the English champions time and again.

Attack


Cacau - Stuttgart

Following on from his four-goal salvo against Koeln last weekend, the naturalised German striker ran Barcelona ragged. The Swabians had the European champions on the rack for the first 45 minutes of their encounter and Cacau was to the fore. He scored the vital go-ahead goal and could have added a second through his persistence before Barca re-established themselves in the tie.

Wayne Rooney - Manchester United

Is he the best player in the world at the moment? It's certainly hard to argue with his form. Already enjoying his best ever goal scoring season, with 27 in 35 games, the Manchester United striker is nigh-on unmarkable for each opposition he faces. He knocked two headers past Dida to put the Red Devils in the ascendency in the tie.

Line-Up

Carrasso

De Silvestri    Boumsong    Lucio

Varela    Fletcher    Cambiasso    Ronaldinho

Honda

Rooney Cacau

Honourable Mentions:

Timo Gebhart - Stuttgart
Mickael Ciani - Bordeaux
Fernando, Ruben Micael - Porto
Arjen Robben - Bayern Munich
Jesus Navas - Sevilla
Diego Milito - Inter