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Champions League: Players who impressed in the quarters

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Raphinha scored twice to see Barcelona beat PSG in the Champions League.
Raphinha scored twice to see Barcelona beat PSG in the Champions League. Photo/The Times
  • We look at the players who impressed in the Champions League quarterfinal first legs.

After a round of thrilling European action filled with spectacular goals and dramatic moments, we look at the players who impressed in the Champions League quarterfinal first legs.

Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich

Manuel Neuer

Manuel Neuer. Photo/ The Athletic.

This week’s goals came in at an unprecedented rate, thus fantastic goalkeeping displays were hard to come by. Despite a relatively calm night at the Emirates, when the legendary German goalkeeper was unable to score either goal, Manuel Neuer gets the start in goal.

With this moment of extreme confidence, he started the build-up to Bayern Munich’s second goal and produced the saves that were expected of him. Even at 38 years old, Neuer is still a unique individual.

Leroy Sane – Bayern Munich

Jakub Kiwior had a tough night against the Bayern Munich winger and was substituted off the field at halftime against Arsenal due to Leroy Sane’s brilliant play. The German can start games with his dribbling abilities since he is a direct, dangerous, and excellent ball-carrier.

After showing multiple warning signals during the first leg, he will be the man to stop in the return after torturing the Gunners throughout the early exchanges at the Emirates. Harry Kane is not the only player on the Bundesliga champions, Mikel Arteta was correct.

Gabriel Jesus – Arsenal

Gabriel Jesus might not be the prolific centre-forward Arsenal fans crave, but the Brazilian showed his value off the bench against Bayern Munich. His introduction immediately turned the game in Arsenal’s favour as he provided a mobile and energetic focal point for the side.

Jesus set up the crucial equaliser with some fine footwork inside the box, drawing in the Bayern Munich challenges before slipping a pass into Leandro Trossard. He did enough to state his case for a start in the return in Munich.

Federico Valverde – Real Madrid

Federico Valverde.

Federico Valverde. Photo/ Bein Sports

Like always, he covered every blade of grass in a signature all-action show. The Uruguayan scored his second goal of the season at the ideal moment, and his impact in a game of this size cannot be understated as he forces other teams into unwelcome routes. That’s a unique technique.

Antonio Rudiger – Real Madrid

Even if Real Madrid let up three goals that evening, Antonio Rudiger will be happy with his performance. Erling Haaland was hardly in the game until the German effectively restrained him at the Bernabeu.

The Norwegian was shaken by Rudiger’s unwavering style of defense, and the big defender will be essential to any advancement at the Etihad. It’s uncertain who he will collaborate with because Aurélien Tchouameni is suspended.

Josko Gvariol – Manchester City

Possibly the greatest game he has had since joining Manchester City from RB Leipzig in the summer. Despite continuing to play the less preferred position at full-back, Gvardiol has showed good signs recently.

He had four tackles and three interceptions in his strong defensive performance against Real Madrid, and his first goal for the Citizens was nearly flawless. What a way to break his duck, the Croatian went up and unleashed a rocket with his weaker right side.

Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid

Alvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann. Photo/ VOI.

The creative center of Atletico Madrid‘s operations when the Spanish team defeated Borussia Dortmund in their quarterfinal. When the Frenchman is in this kind of mood, he’s a sight to behold. He contributed to nearly all of Diego Simeone’s team’s victories, including a brilliant scoop that set up Samuel Lino for the game’s second goal.

In nine appearances in the Champions League this season, he has already contributed to seven goals.

Raphinha – Barcelona

He performed admirably on the big stage, bringing Barcelona tantalizingly close to the Champions League semifinals. The Brazilian opened the score at Paris Saint-Germain with a forceful finish on his weaker side after testing Gianluigi Donnarumma with a lackluster attempt early on.

After PSG had won the match, he added a second goal to level the score, skillfully volleying in Pedri’s incredible ball. Does Barcelona truly think that they will sell him this summer? Based on the evidence of his performance, that appears to be a serious error.

Ronald Araujo – Barcelona

A nearly flawless performance from the Uruguayan, who repeatedly saved Barcelona from a fast-moving Paris Saint-Germain attacking line.

To frustrate the home team, he executed multiple last-ditch challenges, made four clearances, and was unbeaten on the dribble. A specific goal was stopped by his comeback and challenge of Bradley Barcola. This season, no player in the Champions League has managed to dribble past Araujo.

I am an ardent sports enthusiast interested in writing about football, motorsport and athletics.

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