Dele Alli and Sergio Aguero light up Champions League Best XI
With the fourth games in the group stage complete, Nick Ames picks the best Champions League XI -- with Tottenham and Manchester City having a few to celebrate.
Do you agree? Have your say in the comments below.
Goalkeeper: Silvio Proto (Olympiakos)
Olympiakos shut out Barcelona on an historic night for the Greek side and it owed plenty to their 34-year-old goalkeeper. Proto denied Lionel Messi three times in the first half alone, although he was fortunate after the break to see him shoot uncharacteristically off target when a goal looked inevitable. He had earned that bit of luck and Olympiakos held on for a point despite weathering an onslaught from their visitors.
Right-back: Kieran Trippier (Tottenham)
Trippier has emerged from Kyle Walker's shadow to show he is one of the best right-backs around and demonstrated that in style against Real Madrid. He showed fine technique to create Dele Alli's first goal with a volleyed cutback from the byline and patrolled his flank expertly all night, supplying some superb first half deliveries and monitoring Real's threat well as the game went on. This was probably his finest performance for Tottenham and one that should establish him among the team's cornerstones.
Centre-back: John Stones (Manchester City)
This season has seen rapid acceleration in Stones' progress and after a tricky start, he was imperious once more in Manchester City's impressive 4-2 win at Napoli. He rose high to give them a 2-1 lead with a tremendous header shortly after the break and his all-round display, looking reliable and composed in possession while fending off the threat of Dries Mertens & Co. was that of a player looking more confident and comfortable than ever.
Centre-back: Clement Lenglet (Sevilla)
It was vital that Sevilla got back on track after their thrashing in Moscow on matchday three and they made their breakthrough against Spartak just before the half-hour. It came via a fine, soaring header from young defender Lenglet, who played well throughout against a sharp counterattacking team, and helped them inch their way back into the top two of a group that should go to the wire.
Left-back: Layvin Kurzawa (Paris Saint-Germain)
No defender had ever scored a hat trick in the Champions League era before PSG faced Anderlecht -- and then Kurzawa got to work. The French side were 2-0 up and cruising by half time but nobody could have expected what came next: a rebound from Neymar's free kick, a sharp far post header and a raking angled drive completed a treble that had come out of the blue, and not even Kurzawa appeared to believe it.
Centre midfield: Radja Nainggolan (Roma)
Roma completely outplayed Chelsea in Tuesday's 3-0 win and crucially, managed to outdo their famed energy levels. Nainggolan laid down the standard in that department, covering every blade of grass and ensuring their midfield rarely had time to settle into the game. He was also a driving force in possession and looked the kind of all-round midfielder the English champions badly lack, particularly in the absence of N'Golo Kante.
Centre midfield: Michel (Qarabag)
Qarabag's 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid, following the point they had earned in the home fixture, was the standout result of matchday four. And what a moment it was for Michel, the Spanish midfielder, when he powered in a header to put the Azeri side ahead five minutes before the break. The lead did not last thanks to Thomas Partey's wonderful finish but Michel and his colleagues held out with composure to confirm a draw they richly deserved.
Centre midfield: Dele Alli (Tottenham)
Alli had not been in his best form prior to Real Madrid's visit -- but what a way to put that right. This might have been a career-defining performance and his two goals, a sharp piece of anticipation for the first and a deflected second after he had fashioned the chance well, capped a brilliant all-round display. He also had a big hand in Christian Eriksen's strike, Tottenham's third, and looked like a player perfectly at home on the game's biggest stage -- even if he missed a golden chance to crown his performance with a hat trick.
Right forward: Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma)
Roma and El Shaarawy tore Chelsea apart, the forward setting the tone just 39 minutes in when his thunderous, first time finish flew past Thibaut Courtois. His second goal was cutely taken after some hesitant defending and was a reminder that, at 25, El Shaarawy still has his peak years to come. With consistency, he could take Roma a long way in this year's competition.
Centre-forward: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
What a star Aguero has been throughout his six years at City and his goal in Naples, which made him their all-time record scorer, was characteristically well-taken. Aguero seized possession after a Leroy Sane-led counterattack appeared to have broken down, burst forward and arrowed his finish into the far corner, giving City a lead they never relinquished. It was a crucial contribution in the context of their European campaign, and also in the entire history of the club.
Left forward: Marlos (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Shakhtar are on the verge of qualifying for the knockout stage ahead of Napoli, and a crucial comeback win over Feyenoord was confirmed by two superb goals from their Brazilian-born winger. He curled in from the edge of the box to put them 2-1 up in the first half and then danced through to dink home Shakhtar's third -- putting them on the brink of an achievement that had seemed unlikely when the group stage draw was made.
Nick Ames is a football journalist who writes for ESPN FC on a range of topics. Twitter: @NickAmes82.