12.03.2005 Sports News

Essien In Champions League – Best XI

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Abhishek Thakur selects the players he thinks stole the show in the decisive leg of the Champions League ties this week…. GOALKEEPER Petr Cech (Chelsea): Made a string of important saves, the most spectacular being goal bound Carles Puyol header, to keep Chelsea in it when Barcelona were at their best. Was only beaten by the sheer brilliance of Ronaldinho. DEFENDERS John Terry (Chelsea): Marshalled Chelsea's defensive resources against Barcelona's brigade, on a night where Mourinho was concentrating more on attack than defence. The winning goal was another feather in the cap of Chelsea's captain inspirational. One wonders why Ferdinand and Campbell are always one and two for England's defence. Jaap Stam (Milan): Used his height, strength, and experience expertly to keep out Rooney and Nistelruoy. Showed Sir Alex exactly why they were wrong in letting him go. Cannavaro (Juventus): Solid as ever, and his near perfect performance saw Juventus keep a clean sheet against an aggresive Real Madrid. He continues to raise questions as to why Roberto Mancini let him go. MIDFIELDERS Mikael Essien (Lyon): Wrapped up a masterful midfield performance with two goals, sparking immediate interest from long-time fan Wenger, as well as Sir Alex Ferguson. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool): Found his form when it mattered most, used his mix of offensive and defensive abilities brilliantly to keep Leverkusen at bay and help Garcia and Baros up front. Camoranesi (Juventus): Almost everything Juventus created went through him. He was all over the pitch, breaking up attacks, sending in long balls, and embarassing Real Madrid's fragile defence with his runs. Joe Cole (Chelsea): Made Gio Van Bronkhost invisible, and had Oleguer slipping and sliding all over the place. Turned in a performance that left England, and even Sven Goran Eriksson, wondering why he wasn't in the national team. A certain starter in England's next match. FORWARDS Luis Garcia (Liverpool): Often criticised since his move from Barcelona, showed exactly why Benitez wanted him here, and why Rijkaard only agreed to let him go after Liverpool paid his buyout clause. His two goals sealed the game, leaving his team with having to complete the formalities. Ronaldinho (Barcelona): Scored and almost outrageous second goal, and almost single-handedly sent Chelsea packing, on a night where his team-mates let him down. After Paolo Ferreira's reasonable performance in the first leg, there were no doubts about how the contest ended this time. Sylvian Wiltord (Lyon): Has rediscovered the goal-scoring touch which had made him a regular with France and Arsenal. Another night where he showed that managers have often wasted him wide on the right.

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