The 10 best players from the Champions League quarter-final first legs – ranked


Just the 18 goals across four Champions League games this week. Who says European football is boring?

The eight teams left in the competition put on an absolute spectacle in the first legs of their quarter-final ties and, unsurprisingly, there were plenty of players who stood up on the biggest stage to make their quality known.

Here are the ten best performers from the first legs, ranked.

Phil Foden

Another masterclass from Foden / JAVIER SORIANO/GettyImages

There’s no other way to put it. Phil Foden is on an absolute tear right now.

The latest moment of magic came from the edge of the Real Madrid penalty area as Foden unleashed a scorching strike which crashed beyond Andriy Lunin in the blink of an eye.

Bukayo Saka

Saka was key for Arsenal / Catherine Ivill – AMA/GettyImages

Arsenal got off to a rip-roaring start against Bayern Munich after Bukayo Saka’s early goal.

Most of Arsenal’s best moments came through Saka, who gave Alphonso Davies such a tough time that the German media are still wondering what has happened to the Bayern Munich left-back.

Leon Goretzka

A big midfield showing from Goretzka / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Leon Goretzka is one of many Bayern players to have attracted criticism this season, but he silenced his doubters with an all-action display against Arsenal.

Showing real defensive discipline, Goretzka helped control the midfield battle and even popped up with an assist for Serge Gnabry’s equaliser.

Vitinha

Vitinha continues to impress for PSG / Catherine Steenkeste/GettyImages

Vitinha has quietly proven himself as an elite midfielder during his time with Paris Saint-Germain, and the 24-year-old’s stock rose even higher after a dazzling showing against Barcelona.

He may have come out on the losing side, but Vitinha was one of the main reasons PSG were still in the game, with his smart strike putting the French giants ahead early in the second half.

İlkay Gündoğan

Gundogan’s big-game experience made the difference / Tim Clayton – Corbis/GettyImages

The youth in the Barcelona squad has been both a strength and weakness this season, but Xavi’s youngsters dovetailed perfectly with the experience of Ilkay Gundogan in midfield.

Gundogan stepped up to play a leading role in Barcelona’s subduing of PSG, giving his all in the press and even sending in the corner which was headed in by Andreas Christensen late on.

Erling Haaland, Antonio Rudiger

Rudiger bested Haaland once again / Ion Alcoba Beitia/GettyImages

Having turned Erling Haaland into a meme last season, Antonio Rudiger once again took responsibility for City’s cyborg striker. While there were fewer jokes involved in this performance, the ruthless success was the same.

Rudiger clearly set out with his sole focus being the neutralisation of Haaland, and he did not disappoint as he kept the game’s greatest goalscorer quiet again as Real Madrid battled to a draw.

Josko Gvardiol, Dani Carvajal

Gvardiol was City’s stand-out / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Josko Gvardiol’s start to life at Man City was largely uninspiring but he has quietly started to find his feet, with his performance in the 3-3 draw with Madrid perhaps his finest in a City shirt so far.

He was an injury doubt heading into the game but looked as fresh as he ever has as he lashed in a glorious goal to snatch his side a share of the spoils.

Kylian Mbappé, Jules Kounde

Kounde stuck to Mbappe like glue / Tim Clayton – Corbis/GettyImages

While Rudiger was occupying Haaland, Jules Kounde took it upon himself to send an early reminder to Kylian Mbappe that he cannot waltz into La Liga and run the show next season.

Kounde gave his absolute all to keep up with Mbappe, who was limited to shots from distance as his fellow Frenchman shadowed him like a man possessed.

Antoine Griezmann

Griezmann’s great individual season continued / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Antoine Griezmann created six chances for Atletico Madrid as they secured a huge 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund, and his assist for Samuel Lino’s goal was the least his performance deserved.

As is required in a Diego Simeone setup, Griezmann also put in the dirty work at the other end of the field, playing a vital role in everything positive from Atletico.

Raphinha

Raphinha was the winner of the round / Lionel Hahn/GettyImages

In one of the most entertaining rounds of Champions League football in recent memory, it was Raphinha who emerged with his head held highest.

Still seemingly with a point to prove to both fans and officials from his own club, Raphinha netted twice in Barcelona’s big win over PSG, reminding the world that he really is a top talent.

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