UEFA Champions League

Champions League Player Power Rankings: All Change as We Reach the Semi-Finals

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2014

Champions League Player Power Rankings: All Change as We Reach the Semi-Finals

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    The UEFA Champions League is moving into its final stages. Just four teams remain after midweek fixtures saw Real Madrid, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich progress into the semi-finals.

    Again, there were a number of excellent individual performances on display, allowing us to focus on the best for our latest round of power rankings.

    We're sticking at a top 10 despite reduced numbers to pick from—and we've got a new No. 1 for you to enjoy.

Knocked Out and Honourable Mentions

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    While there were a number of good performances from teams who failed to surpass the last-eight stage, there is little sense in retaining those who will no longer feature in the Champions League.

    Therefore, some players from the top 10 last weekincluding Dani Alves, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Andres Iniestaare no longer with us.

     

    Honourable Mentions

    Diego Godin

    Mario Mandzukic

    Arjen Robben

    Gary Cahill

    Thomas Muller

10. Philipp Lahm, Bayern Munich

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    Matthias Schrader

    Last rank: 10

    Differential: —

    Lahm started off at right-back but was able to drift centrally when Bayern were in possession and dictate play from a deep midfield role, quickly moving back out wide when the ball was lost.

    It didn't really work, though, as Bayern were unable to create chances on goal despite overloading in areas just outside the penalty box.

    Later, he moved to the deep controlling role and certainly had a good game overall.

9. Willian, Chelsea

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Last rank: New!

    Differential: New!

    Willian was pivotal to Chelsea's win over PSG, constantly probing and moving the ball around in the final third and letting his team-mates look for openings as they searched for the goal they needed to send themselves through to the semi-finals.

    The Brazilian moved from flank to flank, looking for gaps in the channels and trying to create space for others to exploit.

    His hard work was just as important as his ball retention, as he completed 93 percent of his 46 passes and made two tackles besides.

8. Gabi, Atletico Madrid

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Last rank: New!

    Differential: New!

    Gabi is the glue that holds the Atletico team together. He presses, pulls and passes in midfield, doing the job of a box-to-box midfielder, a playmaker and a destroyer all in one.

    Against Barcelona, he made an impressive six tackles and four interceptions as he, alongside Tiago, stopped Barca playing through the middle and finding space in front of the defence.

    He was also willing to play in those ahead of him quickly, ensuring Atleti retained a threat going forward.

7. Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich

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    Jon Super

    Last rank: 6

    Differential: -1

    Manuel Neuer spends many matches watching the action unfold from a distance, but he's arguably the world's best goalkeeper, and he proves it when called into action for Bayern.

    Even so, he could do nothing about Patrice Evra's top-corner opening goal.

    He had a quiet match other than that, making one save and distributing the ball quickly when he could.

6. Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Last rank: New!

    Differential: New!

    Chelsea left-back Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of the most quietly impressive defenders on the Champions League scene this season.

    Against PSG, he was again at his best, seeing off the regular threat of Lucas Moura without too much fuss and supporting those ahead of him with his overlapping runs.

    He had 72 touches of the ball during the game, the second-highest number on the Chelsea side, and he continues to be an immovable part of Mourinho's team.

5. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

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    Martin Meissner

    Last rank: 1

    Differential: -4

    Cristiano Ronaldo did not play in the second leg, still carrying an injury for Real Madrid.

    He was on the bench just in case but didn't appear off it, and he is likely to sit out the Spanish Copa del Rey final too.

    Ronaldo drops on account of not being able to take part this time around.

4. Luka Modric, Real Madrid

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    Frank Augstein

    Last rank: New!

    Differential: New!

    Real Madrid didn't play anywhere near their best, but Luka Modric was again a star player for them in midfield.

    In fact, after Ronaldo, he's probably been Real's player of the season.

    Modric passed the ball with intelligence, kept hold of possession when necessary and was one of the few able to cope with Dortmund's high-tempo midfield game enough to create a few chances for his side. Modric also contributed more than his share defensively.

3. Koke, Atletico Madrid

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Last rank: New!

    Differential: New!

    Atletico Madrid's Koke was the match winner against Barcelona. He put in an all-around performance to ensure his side carried the greater threat in attack, and he worked hard off the ball to prevent easy chances against his team.

    Hard-working and conscientious of his tactical responsibilities and the technique to trouble one of the world's top teams, he was once more at his best as he sent Atleti to the last four.

    Koke made six tackles and three key passes and had 63 touches of the ball; no Atletico Madrid player surpassed him in any of those categories.

2. David Luiz, Chelsea

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Last rank: New!

    Differential: New!

    David Luiz was just unbeatable against PSG. In fact, it was probably his best performance for Chelsea since joining the club.

    Playing in central midfield, he was the only holder in the line of middle players, as the blues sent Frank Lampard driving further forward in search of the goals they needed to get back in the tie.

    Luiz contributed going forward by playing incisive and quick passes and even got a shot away on target from distance, but his big worth came in winning the ball back rapidly, protecting the defence so the full-backs could push on and recycling possession from deep. He had more touches of the ball than any player on the pitch with 75, and he was constantly pushing his team forward.

1. Raul Garcia, Atletico Madrid

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    Andres Kudacki

    Last rank: New!

    Differential: New!

    Raul Garcia missed out on the rankings last time, as he did not play against Barcelona in the first leg, but he's been excellent all season for Atletico Madrid and was again vital for them in the second leg.

    Whether playing in central midfield or further forward, Garcia has been a link man and a goal threat this term. He demonstrated his versatility, commitment to the team cause and adaptability by playing from the right side on Wednesday.

    Garcia made three chances, attempted four shots and made five tackles in an all-around performance. He's a key player and a big reason Atletico have a great shot at a double this season.

     

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