Europe’s top five leagues returned to action this weekend following the international break, with a number of excellent performances with hat-tricks and braces aplenty.
With players from Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur and Lazio all featuring, Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne are the best represented club in this weekend’s line-up.
Without further ado, here is our European Team of the Week.
GK – Karl-Johan Johnsson (Guingamp)
The 28-year-old made five saves against Bordeaux, as Guingamp won 2-1, and all five stops were exceptional. After two fingertip saves to deny Lukas Lerager and Malcom, Johnsson then kept out a penalty from the latter. Much to the goalkeeper’s disappointment, Malcom turned home the rebound to make it 2-1, before Johnsson then produced a superb double save to keep his side ahead, as they held on for all three points.
RB – Mathieu Debuchy (Saint-Etienne)
Right-back Debuchy has been in excellent form since his move from Arsenal back to Ligue 1 with Saint-Etienne. Against Nantes, Debuchy made five interceptions and six clearances – more than any other player on either side – as well as blocking three shots and winning three aerial duels. At the other end, he showed excellent composure to open the scoring for Saint-Etienne, while his four efforts at goal was behind only midfielder Remy Cabella (6).
CB – Andrea Masiello (Atalanta)
Playing as part of a three-man Atalanta defence, Masiello produced an excellent display to help his side to a 2-0 win against Udinese. The former Genoa man made four clearances and one interception, as well as completing 91% of his passes. The 32-year-old’s goal is definitely worth a watch, as he showed excellent technique to volley home and seal an important win for his side as they kept up the pressure on AC Milan.
CB – Dante (OGC Nice)
A professional display from the experienced defender in a 2-0 win for OGC Nice against Troyes. Dante made two interceptions and three clearances. He also blocked four shots and won three aerial duels. On the ball he also impressed, as he made two key passes and had 110 touches during the game, with only midfielder Wylan Cyprien managing more. The 34-year-old had a pass success rate of 84% from his 90 passes played.
LB – Ben Chilwell (Leicester City)
Chilwell impressed for Leicester in their 2-0 victory against Brighton away from home. The young full back was excellent defensively, recording a game-high seven clearances, as well as three tackles and one interception as the Foxes kept Brighton at bay. Going forward, Chilwell was also a threat, as he provided the assist for Vicente Iborra’s opener and also made more key passes than any other Leicester player.
CM – Luis Alberto (Lazio)
The former Liverpool man produced a supreme midfield display as Lazio beat lowly Benevento 6-2 in Serie A. With pass success rate of 85% and seven key passes played during the match, Alberto controlled 9.3% of the overall possession in the game and had more touches than any other player. With two assists already to his name, he rounded off the win for Lazio with a calmly taken penalty late on.
CM – Remy Cabella (Saint-Etienne)
A simply stunning display from the former Newcastle United star. With one assist and two goals, the midfielder was the main man as Saint-Etienne won 3-0 away at Nantes. After setting up Mathieu Debuchy for his side’s opener, Cabella, who had more touches than any of his teammates, then showed excellent composure to make it 2-0 just after half time, before curling home beautifully from 20-yards to round off the victory for Saint-Etienne.
CM – Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
This was one way to silence the critics and doubters. Alli has been under fire in recent weeks, and played very little of England’s games against the Netherlands and Italy, but he showed his class at Stamford Bridge. Receiving a long ball from Eric Dier, Alli’s touch and finish for his first goal was superb, before showing excellent composure four minutes later to finish from close range to seal the 3-1 victory for Spurs against Chelsea.
ST – Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
The Polish striker grabbed his second hat-trick in the month of March against former club Borussia Dortmund, as Bayern Munich moved one step closer to the Bundesliga title. Lewandowski’s first was superbly finished, lifting the ball over Roman Buerki, while his second and third were simply a case of being in the right place at the right time as he tapped home from close range, with Bayern hitting Dortmund for six.
ST – Marko Arnautovic (West Ham United)
Up against another side down the bottom in Southampton, West Ham United and David Moyes needed a hero. They found one in the form of Arnautovic, as the Austrian netted two goals in a vital 3-0 win that moved the Hammers up to 14th. Moments after missing a guilt-edged chance, the forward smashed home from close range having seen a header saved, before expertly volleying home his second to put the result beyond doubt.
ST – Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
Absent from the recent Argentina squad, Dybala looked like a rested man as he helped Juventus put AC Milan to the sword. The forward got Juve up and running with a lovely strike into the bottom corner from distance, before teeing up Sami Khedira late on to round off a vital 3-1 win for the reigning Serie A champions. Dybala completed seven dribbles and had a 90% pass success rate, as Juve moved four points clear of Napoli.
Former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann reckons Paris Saint-Germain are better off sticking with Unai Emery as coach next season.
Rumours abound that the Spaniard’s time at the Parc des Princes is up after PSG’s latest Champions League failure.
Names touted as possible successors after PSG’s last 16 exit to Real Madrid included German Thomas Tuchel, but for Klinsmann the French giants are best off with Emery.
“Looking at things from the outside I’d say the best idea is to continue as they are, to keep their manager. Even if Tuchel is a superb coach I don’t see any reason for them to change,” Klinsmann told AFP.
Klinsmann was speaking at Bordeaux on Saturday night where he attended the French League Cup final with PSG beating Monaco 3-0.
Emery’s contract runs out in June, with Tuchel suggested by French sports daily L’Equipe and RMC radio as the best placed to take over.
“Tuchel is very talented,” added the 1990 World Cup winner.
“There is no doubt about that. But I think Paris already has a great coach. Emery is in the process of doing a fantastic job.”
Saturday’s win leaves a clean sweep of the domestic trophies for the third time in four seasons on the cards for PSG, although that will not completely make up for the disappointment of another underwhelming campaign in the Champions League.
Provided by AFP Sport
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri insists his side will start Saturday’s Serie A clash against AC Milan “a goal down” if they are already thinking about facing Real Madrid.
The Old Lady will come up against holders Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday night as Zinedine Zidane returns to Turin.
But first they welcome a rejuvenated Milan side to the Juventus Stadium looking to maintain their lead over Napoli at the top of Serie A.
Allegri wants focus to be solely on the league encounter despite the obvious excitement of a repeat of last year’s Champions League final, which Real Madrid won 4-1 in Cardiff.
“We can only think about (Saturday) night for now, otherwise we risk going onto the pitch already a goal down,” Allegri said, quoted on his club’s website.
“We will think about Real Madrid from Monday. Napoli only have one possible objective left and that’s winning the title and they are having a great season.
“There are nine games left and we play five of them at home. We want to reach the final on May 26 but our main objective is the league.”
Milan may have been turned over 5-1 by Arsenal in their Europa League last-16 tie but Gennaro Gattuso’s side are unbeaten in the league in 2018.
Allegri therefore expects a challenge as former defender Leonardo Bonucci prepares for an emotional return after departing for Milan in the summer.
“Gattuso deserves the compliments for the work that he’s done, he’s won over the initial sceptics,” he added.
“He has used his experience well from his playing days and only deserves compliments for what he is doing.
“It will be a special evening for Bonucci, who gave a lot to Juve and vice-versa. He chose to take a different path, it was his choice but he remains in the heart of the fans.”
Gattuso acknowledged that Juventus are a better outfit than his AC Milan side at present but does not want to travel to Turin to park the bus.
“If we manage to do well both in the offensive and the defensive phase we can do well against Juve. If we try to defend only, then it’s going to be tough,” he said at his pre-match press conference.
“We have to be humble and respect our opponents who are stronger than us. We must play as a team. There’s a lot at stake and we are not allowed any false-step. We need the perfect game.
“We have prepared two or three different tactical solutions based on how Juve will play.
“They have a winning mentality, fear nothing and are used to playing these games. They won’t be thinking about the match against Real Madrid.”