Jules Koundé eliminates Mbappé

Paris Champions League squad of the week: Jules Koundé eliminates Mbappé

Perhaps the Champions League will shine in the quarterfinals. This week’s opening legs saw goals from senior and young players, setting up each second leg for even more excitement.

Atlético Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak

Atlético Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak

Oblak was the only Champions League goalkeeper to not concede two or more goals. He saved a key Ian Maatsen shot in his team’s 2-1 win over Dortmund.

Although they were dominant, Atlético’s backline started to open up, forcing Oblak to make three crucial saves. Oblak remains strong despite a rough week for David Raya and Andriy Lunin.

Arsenal defender Ben White

Arsenal defender Ben White

Despite their domestic woes, Arsenal expected to beat Bayern Munich, but they found a side still hungry for the top flight.

White maintained his stellar season on a night when some of his defense teammates lost their discipline, particularly Gabriel in picking up the ball for the denied penalty.

He may have scored in Arsenal’s early effort to end the tie. However, one tackle on escaping Leroy Sané was almost a goal.

Barcelona defender Jules Koundé

Barcelona defender Jules Koundé

Koundé excelled in man-marking Kylian Mbappé, the game’s hardest duty. The headlines may point to Mbappé’s poor night, but Koundé almost eliminated the great man.

After 13 turnovers, Mbappé had no shots on goal and lost seven duels. Even worse, Mbappé had only 2.7% possession, a quarter of his usual hold and the lowest of any outfield starter.

Koundé played his less-favorite full-back role well. Koundé cutting off PSG’s star, helping Barcelona win 3-2.

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Defender: Pau Cubarsí, Barcelona

Defender Pau Cubarsí, Barcelona

Barça’s late run in the competition is intriguing. Manager Xavi has confirmed his departure at the end of the season.

His squad plays vertically and directly, unlike his playing days when he conducted Pep Guardiola’s take-the-ball, pass-the-ball symphony.

Big signings typically disappoint. Instead, La Masia’s young players brighten a struggling club.

Pedri provided an assist off the bench, and 17-year-old Cubarsí, the youngest defender to start a Champions League quarter-final, successfully stopped PSG attacks. Lamine Yamal was quiet. Another gem added.

Atlético Madrid defender César Azpilicueta

Atlético Madrid defender César Azpilicueta

Diego Simeone has often shown that class can last in discarded veterans. Many at Chelsea miss Azpilicueta’s calm leadership, so seeing him perform well in the Champions League’s final stages will be scant consolation.

Dortmund’s attackers had little space until a second-half push led by Azpilicueta limited the Germans to one goal.

PSG midfielder Vitinha

If Barcelona played straight and muscular in Paris, their opponents sought to play through midfield and failed.

Vitinha represents the new PSG, who want to develop their players rather than buy them. Vitinha scored the second, sprinting into the Barça box, to put PSG up 2-1.

When the Portuguese player drops deep and picks passes, it can look like the club has found a Marco Verratti replacement with more energy and discipline.

Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden

Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden

Foden admitted he failed to perform well for City in their 3-3 draw at the Bernabéu.

A player who has scored many hat-tricks in the Premier League this season may have been upset with Real Madrid’s lack of space and opportunity.

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In a week of amazing goals, Foden scored the goal of the week with a left-foot lash that thundered into the net. Foden scored the Belgian’s hallmark goal in a vital spot after Kevin De Bruyne vomited.

Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde

Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde

Madrid vs. Manchester City was a goal-fest without much fluency. Madrid couldn’t set their customary tempo, so they won the ball in midfield and hit their fast forwards swiftly.

Because Valverde was always willing to lead counterattacks, it almost worked. He scored the low-flying rocket Steven Gerrard invented to tie the match.

Atlético Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann

Atlético’s magician was on fire early against Dortmund, as his team appeared to kill the contest in 30 minutes. “Underrated,” Owen Hargreaves called Atléti’s forward.

Who seriously underrates a guy who has been at this level for a decade, minus his Barcelona missteps? He has scored seven Champions League goals this season, including his improvised assist for Samuel Lino.

Bayern Munich forward Harry Kane

After researching Arsenal goalie Raya, his penalty was scored with studied composure, possibly influenced by Bayern predecessor Robert Lewandowski.

Kane continued to challenge Arsenal with his movement and playmaking, and he showed his vicious side with a swinging elbow on Gabriel.

A group of Gunners fans stayed to chant unflattering songs while he did post-match TV responsibilities seemed like reluctant respect for a habitual tormentor who may have more to say in the tie.

Barcelona forward Raphinha

Barcelona forward Raphinha

Raphinha stole Mbappé’s stage, saving his best for the Champions League. Barcelona relied on him as their major danger against Napoli in the round of 16.

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He scored for the first time in this year’s competition after a risky start, cutting in from the left. One was a slick rebound convert, the other a flawless volley from Pedri’s assist.

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