Team of the Round: Picking an XI of the Best Performers on Gameweek 1 of the Champions League

The greatest club competition on earth made its highly anticipated return this week, and as expected, threw up a whole shed load of drama and stunning goals as Europe’s best did their thing. 

We saw Real Madrid embark on their first Champions League match without Cristiano Ronaldo since 2009, Liverpool humble Paris Saint-Germain, and much, much more. 

In what has been an extremely tough task given the vast amount of exquisite performances across the board this week, here’s the team of gameweek one. 

Enjoy…

1. GK: Wojciech Szczęsny – Juventus

The Polish international now holds the number one jersey in Turin after the departure of Gianluigi Buffon, and based on his performance against Valencia, it will be his for some time. 

Szczesny, formerly of Arsenal, managed to keep a clean sheet despite his side playing over an hour of the game with 10 men after Cristiano Ronaldo’s red card. 

Even more impressively, the Pole managed to preserve his clean sheet even after Valencia had been awarded a penalty, diving smartly to his right to keep out Dani Parejo. 

2. RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool

Liverpool’s academy graduate looked set to face one of the toughest tests of his short career when Neymar and Kylian Mbappe rocked up to Anfield, but the 19-year-old dealt impeccably with the £360m duo, while providing a key attacking outlet for the hosts.

Alexander-Arnold completed both of his dribbles, had 91 touches and completed five out of his six tackles, whilst also making 45 passes against the French champions. 

He was crucial in the build up to Daniel Sturridge’s opening goal, and even managed to clip the bar with a free-kick late on. 

Seriously accomplished stuff. 

3. CB: Abdou Diallo – Borussia Dortmund

A £25m summer arrival from Mainz, Abdou Diallo has taken to life at Borussia Dortmund, and the Champions League, like a duck to water. 

The Frenchman, who captains the France Under-21 side, was imperious on his debut in Europe’s greatest club competition against Club Brugge, making nine recoveries. 

He completed more accurate long balls (11) than any other player in gameweek one, whilst also recording a clean sheet as well as almost getting on the scoresheet. 

Not bad for a 22-year-old. 

4. CB: José Giménez – Atlético Madrid

The Uruguay international was at his dominant best against Monaco on Tuesday night, helping his side come from behind to beat the Ligue 1 side. 

Gimenez scored what turned out to be the winning goal when he met Koke’s corner with a thumping header in first half stoppage time. 

The 23-year-old marshalled the Ateti backline admirably, so much so that Monaco didn’t even look like getting an equaliser. 

5. LB: Nicolás Tagliafico – Ajax

Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico became the first defender to score a double for the Dutch giants since Frank de Boer back in 1995, a stat which I’m sure he’ll be proud of. 

The Argentine’s two goals, including a wonder striker (misjudged cross) from the left wing, saw his side record a dominant victory in their opening Champions League game. 

6. CDM: Tanguy Ndombele – Olympique Lyon

This kid is special. 

Tanguy Ndombele ran the show against Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking Manchester City side, putting in a man of the match display as Lyon recorded a 2-1 victory. 

The 21-year-old had an 83% passing accuracy, made two tackles, won five of his six duels and completed three accurate long balls. 

Ndombele also made two key passes, including a stunning, defence splitting ball to Memphis Depay which say the Dutchman hit the post. 

7. CM: Renato Sanches – Bayern Munich

Like Tanguy Ndombele, another 21-year-old bossed the midfield in the Champions League this week, but Renato Sanches’ story has a different romance about it. 

The Portugal international moved away from Benfica to Bayern in a £35m deal two years ago, but had tailed off significantly. 

A failed loan move to Swansea last season looked to spell the end of his Bayern career, but he has been resurgent under Niko Kovac. 

On his return to his boyhood club, Sanches scored his first Bayern goal against his old club, whilst dominating the midfield with his powerful running. 

Oh, and he also got a standing ovation from both sets of supporters. 

8. CM: James Milner – Liverpool

Like a fine Ribena, James Milner is simply getting better and better with age. 

The 32-year-old continued his fine form from the previous Champions League campaign – in which he set a new record for assists – with a goal against the French champions. 

Milner also completed 86% of his passes, and made a game-high five tackles, including the one high up the pitch on Kylian Mbappe that led to Roberto Firmino’s last gasp winner. 

Oh, and he dumped Neymar onto the turf, much to the satisfaction of the Anfield faithful. 

9. CAM: Paul Pogba – Manchester United

When he’s up for it and on song, Paul Pogba is just about the best midfielder in the world.  

With the captain’s armband around his arm and Jose Mourinho’s trust bestowed in him, the World Cup winner put in a scarily good performance against Champions League debutants Young Boys. 

His first goal was a contender for the tournament’s goal of the season award even at such a premature stage of the competition, whilst his 26-step penalty oozed control and swagger. 

10. ST: Lionel Messi – Barcelona

Do I even need to write anything? 

The GOAT recorded a record eighth Champions League hat-trick with his treble against PSV Eindhoven, opening the scoring with a phenomenal, but delicate free kick. 

Amazingly, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s 16 goals in Champions League matchday one fixtures is an all-time high. 

We really are running out of superlatives for this man, so much so that nobody has even batted an eyelid at yet another hattrick. 

11. ST: Gareth Bale – Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo is no more at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Spanish capital needs a new hero. Step forward, Gareth Bale. 

The Welshman, with his emphatic strike against Roma, now has 10 goals in his last 10 games for Los Blancos. 

His goal on Wednesday evening put him level with Ronaldinho on 18 Champions League strikes; esteemed company, no doubt about that. 

Let’