The duels for the Champions League quarterfinal stage have been drawn, but plenty of players have already left their mark on this season’s competition.
Here, theScore fashions an XI with the top performers of the 2018-19 Champions League campaign to date, while noting those who just missed out.
GK – Andre Onana (Ajax)
One of Ajax’s beaten finalists from the 2017 Europa League final has blossomed into a goalkeeper with sharp reflexes and superb command of aerial deliveries. Including the Champions League’s qualifying rounds, the 22-year-old Onana’s produced six clean sheets this season.
Notable mention: David De Gea (Manchester United)
RB – Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
The first match Kimmich missed in this Champions League term was Wednesday’s defeat in the second leg with Liverpool. He’s only 24, but leads Bayern Munich for assists, fouls won, and short passes completed in Europe, and may have vaulted Dani Carvajal as the finest right-back on the continent.
Notable mention: Joao Cancelo (Juventus)
CB – Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Chiellini is often noted for his imposing presence at the back – he wouldn’t flinch at the prospect of heading an asteroid – but he’s also one of the most intelligent defenders on the planet. The 34-year-old has intercepted the ball more often than any of his Juventus comrades in the Champions League.
Notable mention: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
CB – Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Under “towering header” in a dictionary of footballing terms will now be an image of Van Dijk scaling Javi Martinez and Mats Hummels before nodding past Manuel Neuer. His second leg against Bayern was what we’ve come to expect from the Dutchman. He is, simply put, Liverpool’s most vital player.
Notable mention: Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
LB – Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Vertonghen’s not on this list just for his assist and goal in the first leg against Borussia Dortmund, or primarily for his masterful defensive showing in the second leg. His performance when Inter visited also merits praise; Vertonghen made seven interceptions and unfussily smashed five clearances at Wembley.
Notable mention: Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City)
DM – Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon)
Like his teammate Houssem Aouar, Ndombele’s going to command a huge fee. The French international impressed in two group-stage matches against Manchester City, scored twice against Hoffenheim, and was Lyon’s best player over the double-header with Barcelona in the round of 16.
Notable mention: Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich)
CM – David Silva (Manchester City)
The Manchester City veteran was timid by his standards in the two legs against FC Schalke, but he shone in Group F. Silva’s already scored the same amount of goals as he did in the previous three Champions League campaigns combined, making Phil Foden wait longer to assume the creative mantle.
Notable mention: Houssem Aouar (Lyon)
AM – Dusan Tadic (Ajax)
Tadic ditching the dreariness of Mark Hughes’ Southampton for Ajax has paid off handsomely. Tadic has played the same amount of key passes that Paul Pogba and Luka Modric have between them, and four of his six goals and two of his three assists came in matches against Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Notable mention: Hakim Ziyech (Ajax)
FW – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Messi and Robert Lewandowski top the scoring chart on eight apiece. The Argentinian has also produced three performances – PSV Eindhoven at home, away at Tottenham, and Wednesday’s second leg against Lyon – that were immaculate. Overall, Messi and Tadic have been the best to watch on continental duty.
Notable mention: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
FW – Moussa Marega (FC Porto)
Marega showed FC Porto what they were missing when he regained fitness for Tuesday’s second leg. He scored and assisted to help topple Roma, lifting his tournament goal tally to six. Before this season, the 27-year-old Malian international had never scored in continental play.
Notable mention: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
FW – Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Mbappe’s touch and balance were a little off in the second leg against Manchester United, but he otherwise produced an excellent 2018-19 Champions League term. His pace is undeniable, and the timing of his runs is getting better and better.
Notable mention: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)