Advantage to the Premier League as England battled Spain in the first-legs of this week’s Champions League semi-final, but there is still all to play for in both ties.
Manchester City hold only a narrow advantage following their 4-3 win over Real Madrid, but Liverpool will now be strong favourites to keep Villarreal at bay when they travel to LaLiga outfit with a 2-0 lead next week.
So after a double dose of victories for the Premier League teams, who makes Sportsmail’s Champions League team of the week?
Liverpool players celebrate at the end of their 2-0 Champions League win over Villarreal
Never has one man had to do so little to earn his place in the team of the week. Yet it’s hard to argue against Alisson’s inclusion in this week’s XI.
With Real Madrid conceding four against Manchester City, Ederson being slightly suspect at the other end on Tuesday night and Geronimo Rulli conceding twice at Anfield for Villarreal, it makes the Reds stopper the winner by default.
It was a very quiet night for Alisson in the Liverpool goal as he kept a rather routine and simple clean sheet in the 2-0 first-leg victory – not having to face a single shot on target.
Alisson was significantly a spectator in Liverpool’s win over Villarreal – having not had a shot to save
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
A total menace to the Villarreal defense, who couldn’t handle his constant bombardments of the right flank.
By the far the best right-back on display this week and he made it a miserable night for his opposing numbers including former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin (who was substituted just before the hour mark) and full-back Pervis Estupinan who spent the whole game camped inside his own half.
No direct goals and assists but it was a totally dominant performance from the England star, who was also tough in the challenge winning all five of his ground duels.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s attacking ability had Villarreal pinned back inside their own half
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Villarreal had just one shot on Wednesday and even that was off target but that just shows how watertight the Liverpool defense is these days.
And the heart of that back four is Virgil van Dijk who just keeps bagging the clean sheets whether he is playing alongside Joel Matip or Ibrahima Konate.
Dominant in the air and on the ground, it’s little wonder Villarreal never looked like having a shot on target, let alone even troubling Liverpool stopper Alisson.
Virgil van Dijk continues to lead the Liverpool defense following another clean sheet
Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool)
On a personal level it’s been a quiet season for Konate and it’s really been through no fault of his own.
The sensational form of Matip has meant disrupting his understanding with Van Dijk is a big risk to take and the former RB Leipzig star has had to watch most of the Premier League campaign from the bench.
Yet when called upon he continues to ensure he is a reliable alternative for boss Jurgen Klopp in Europe. After scoring goals in both legs of the quarter-final victory against Benfica, he has resorted back to the day job of keeping them out with a performance just as commanding on Wednesday as center-back partner Van Dijk.
Ibrahima Konate continues to put in excellent displays during his rare appearances this term
Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
Robertson’s inclusion in the team means it’s a clean sweep of the defensive roles for the Reds this week, yet the Scotsman was only masquerading as a left-back at Anfield.
In reality he was an additional winger as he provided extra resources on the left for overloads that helped ensure Villarreal barely struggled to get out of their own half for much of the contest.
Oleksandr Zinchenko was a close shout to be included too for Manchester City given his assist, but the left-back was also slightly at fault for Karim Benzema’s opening goal for Real Madrid as he failed to close down the striker’s cutely struck volley.
Andy Robertson helped add to Liverpool’s width in a dominant attacking display from the Reds
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
It was a strange evening for Manchester City’s attack. On the one hand they did something not many other teams do by sticking four goals past Real Madrid.
Yet, they also blew a hatful of chances in a rather profligate display where they could have built a healthy first-leg advantage instead of just the narrow one they have now.
De Bruyne though did his part. The Belgian had City flying out the blocks with a well taken header before finding Gabriel Jesus in the center to help put his side 2-0 up in 11 minutes. Once again, he is proving why he is arguably the first name on Pep Guardiola’s team sheet.
Kevin De Bruyne celebrates opening the scoring against Real Madrid on Tuesday evening
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s captain is the wrong side of 30 these days but there is no let-up in his energy as he helped the Reds dominate a one-sided midfield battle against Villarreal.
The 31-year-old along with Thiago Alcantara ran the show but Henderson makes the XI thanks to his role in the crucial opening goal to finally break down the stubborn Spanish side.
Dovetailing with Alexander-Arnold, he overlapped on the right side before a little bit of fortune saw his deflected cross loop over the keeper into the net. Luck or not it was a deserved goal for an excellent performance.
Jordan Henderson celebrates after playing a vital role in Liverpool’s opening goal at Anfield
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
There was a profligate nature to Manchester City’s finishing at the Etihad Stadium but Bernardo Silva was as sharp as the best to restore a two-goal advantage late on in the first leg.
When Zinchenko was brought down on the edge of the box it could have been very simple for City stars to stop, take a breather and settle for a set-piece special in a good position close to goal late in the game.
Silva on the other hand thought otherwise, picking up the ball, hastened into the penalty area and then blasting home an effort into the near post top corner that left Thibaut Courtois flat footed. Magnificent play to cap a strong performance.
Bernardo Silva was opportunistic with an excellent goal for City at the Etihad Stadium
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
There has been growing support for Sadio Mane to be a contender for the Ballon d’Or at the end of the year and while it is still early days to hand out personal accolades, the Liverpool star chose the right time to underline his case.
A constant key figure in a Liverpool front three that could win the quadruple this season, he took his goal magnificently on Wednesday night to put Liverpool in total command of the semi-final.
Standing outside the box, he looked to offer no danger at all. But once team-mate Mohamed Salah picked up possession, the Senegal star was sharp in darting into the penalty area to pick up a pass and slot home – showcase just why Liverpool’s attacking unit is so feared around Europe.
Sadio Mane has continued his magnificent 2022 form after scoring on Wednesday night
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Having endured a fairly mundane season by all accounts in a side chasing the Premier League title, the Brazilian has chosen one of the best times of the campaign to up his production levels.
Four goals against Watford is one thing, but to still produce the goods in a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid suggests Gabriel may be about to go on a run of form to help boost City’s hopes of a Premier League and Champions League double.
He spun David Alaba delightfully while collecting a De Bruyne pass at the Etihad Stadium, before keeping his cool to slot home with a wonderful strike and will give his confidence a significant boost.
Gabriel Jesus showed great skill and composure to give City a 2-0 lead at the Etihad Stadium
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
The only player this week to not feature from either Manchester City or Liverpool, yet he could also be a worthy contender for the stand out player of the week.
Madrid were rocking at 2-0 down when his tidy volley pulled one back, and then he kept his cool late on to net a Panenka penalty at a crucial point of the tie to fully show that even at 34 he is playing with ability and confidence not seen at previous levels of an already impressive career.
Even more so, that’s now 14 goals in the Champions League from just 10 games this season – a tally that is now highly unlikely to be beaten this term at least.
Karim Benzema has now scored 14 Champions League goals from just 10 matches this term