Champions League - TOTW: Messi the maestro

Thu, 28 Apr 01:45:00 2011

Two-goal hero Lionel Messi heads up our Team of the Week after his match-winning exploits in Barcelona's Champions League semi-final victory over Real Madrid.

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The team has been selected based on the expert ratings given to players in our matchcasts.

Formation: 4-3-3

GK: Manuel Neuer (Schalke) - Despite ending on the losing side, the Germany keeper was the star of the show in Gelsenkirchen. His stunning performance in between the sticks no doubt added a couple of zeros on to his summer pricetag.

RB: Fabio (Manchester United) - Preferred to both his brother Rafael and John O'Shea at right-back, the Brazilian justified his inclusion in the starting XI with a solid display bristling with attacking intent.

CB: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona) - Again asked to play in an unfamiliar position at centre-half, the midfielder barely put a foot wrong and the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria didn't have a sniff.

CB: Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United) - The first of five United players in our selection - a reflection of how well they played against Schalke - Ferdinand was imperious at the back, effectively nullifying the threat of Raul and Edu.

LB: Carles Puyol (Barcelona) - Another of Pep Guardiola's charges forced to play out of position, but at left-back the Barca skipper was just as effective as he normally is at centre-half or right-back.

RM: Xavi (Barcelona) - Being deprived of his partner Andres Iniesta did not appear to have a detrimental effect on Xavi, who was still the heartbeat of Barca's midfield in the 2-0 win over Real Madrid.

CM: Michael Carrick (Manchester United) - Carrick hasn't enjoyed many decent games this season, but what better time to come good than a Champions League semi-final? A commanding performance in the hole from the England midfielder.

LM: Ryan Giggs (Manchester United) - Okay, he missed an absolute sitter and was foiled by Neuer in a one-on-one situation, but he made amends with an assured finish in the second half and outshone fellow Champions League legend Raul.

FW: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - What can you say about the World Player of the Year? He can do everything. A poacher's goal was followed by a moment of sheer individual genius as he led Barca towards another final appearance.

FW: Javier Hernandez (Manchester United) - The young Mexican has been nothing short of a revelation in his debut season in Europe and while he did not find the mark against Schalke, his livewire display was enough to cause serious problems for the opposition backline.

FW: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) - Rooney is hitting form at a good time for United and another all-action performance was capped with another goal as his partnership with Hernandez continues to flourish.


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