Picking a Champions League Group Stage Best XI

November 26, 2013 1:29 AM

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Picking a Champions League Group Stage Best XI

The UEFA Champions League group stage is quickly coming up to the important final couple of games, where qualifying teams for the knock-out stages will be decided.

While some teams have great all-round strength, there have certainly been a number of stand-out players who deserve to feature in a combined XI of the group stage.

Atletico Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois doesn't always get the headlines he deserves, but he has been in exceptional form once more this season.

The on-loan Chelsea man has conceded just twice in four games so far, despite Atleti conceding an average number of shots per game similar to the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona (also conceded two each) and Bayern Munich (just one conceded).

The Belgian keeper is an excellent shot-stopper, has good positional skills, takes the ball well in the air and has shown a great level of consistency.

Philipp Lahm could technically fit in almost anywhere in the team, such is his ability, but we'll keep him in his more accustomed role of right-back.

The Bayern captain is very strong in defence, offers plenty to his team going forward, has a non-stop engine to keep running all game and offers the composure on the ball that many other top midfielders lack.

In short, he's almost a perfect playmaker from full-back, and Bayern utilise him to great effect.

It's tough to argue with Marquinhos' inclusion; so far he has performed superbly for PSG after arriving this summer, making more defensive clearances than any of his team-mates while featuring in every game and netting two goals to boot.

The teenage Brazilian is certainly showing why PSG were so keen to splash out such a big amount of money on him.

At Atletico Madrid, Miranda has been the rock ahead of his goalkeeper ensuring Courtois remains protected.

He has continued his exemplary form from last season into this and remains a key part of Atleti's challenge on domestic and continental fronts.

With a 100% record so far, Atletico's defence has been just as impressive as the team's free-scoring attack.

The Austrian is going about proving himself one of the top attacking full-backs in world football today, with plenty of neutrals already believing he is the outright best on the left side.

Alaba, who can also play in midfield, has scored twice, assisted once and averages more than two shots a game in the Champions League—not bad from defence.

The double pivot in midfield features Aaron Ramsey and Angel Di Maria, which might be a little overly offensive, but it recognises two very good players who have noticeably upped their games this term.

Ramsey has saved some of his best and most important Arsenal performances for the Champions League, including two goals and an assist.

Di Maria of Real Madrid has been having to play at his maximum level just to keep his place in the side after another big summer of expenditure, but he has featured both from his usual right flank and in a more central role of late.

He has racked up four assists in just three starts, the joint-highest tally in the competition so far, and continues to prove his worth to the Spanish side.

Arjen Robben of Bayern Munich is one of the most in-form players around and certainly has been over the past eight months or so.

Cutting in on his favoured left foot from the right flank, he's a real danger on account of the whip he generates in his shots, his ability to dribble past defenders and the spaces he opens up for team-mates by dragging defenders out of position.

Toni Kroos has been nothing short of amazing in midfield for Bayern in this season's Champions League.

Whether operating behind the forward or slightly deeper, he's simply irrepressible in the team setup, where he is expected to maintain possession, press quickly and help create scoring chances.

Out of 355 attempted passes so far in his four appearances, he has completed a thoroughly ridiculous 97% of them—misplacing just 10. Kroos has developed into a star man for his team and helps make everything happen around him.

Cristiano Ronaldo. Obviously, who else? Arguably the most in-form player on the planet this season up until his recently attained injury, Ronaldo has been in scintillating form in the Champions League, leading all players in scoring with eight goals in just four games.

His abilities need no introduction, with Real Madrid with a great chance of winning any game that he simply takes to the field in.

All eyes will be on whether he walks off with a Ballon d'Or this year with the Portuguese forward certainly doing everything possible at the moment to stake his claim.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes centre-stage in the attack, with his seven goals in four games so far making him the highest-scoring striker so far.

Ibra hit four goals against Anderlecht and has been in stunning all-round form for PSG.

The French side can be seen as an outsider for the title come the end of the season, and with Zlatan in such terrific form there is no reason why they won't be a real force to contend with in the knock-out stages.

Source: bleacherreport.com

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