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BEST
XI

Ahead of the knockout rounds in Europe's premier club competition, Michael Cox selects an all-star lineup from the players of the 16 remaining teams.
Ahead of the knockout rounds in Europe's premier club competition, Michael Cox selects an all-star lineup from the players of the 16 remaining teams.

Manuel Neuer | Goalkeeper |
Bayern Munich | 28
The World Cup-winning goalkeeper has helped repopularise the art of goalkeepers sweeping dramatically outside their penalty box but he also remains an outstanding shot-stopper.
Reserve: Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea

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Philipp Lahm | Right-Back |
Bayern Munich | 31
Bayern manager Pep Guardiola has often deployed the versatile veteran in central midfield but Lahm remains the best right-back around. Highly energetic, he is defensively solid and also excellent on the ball.
Reserve: Stephan Lichtsteiner, Juventus

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Mats Hummels | Centre-Back |
Borussia Dortmund | 26
Dortmund are struggling at the wrong end of the Bundesliga but Hummels' individual quality isn't in doubt. A proactive defender who intercepts the ball high up the pitch, he's also comfortable in possession.
Reserve: Giorgio Chiellini, Juventus

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Diego Godin | Centre-Back |
Atletico Madrid | 29
The world's best centre-back over the past 18 months, the Uruguayan is rarely caught out of position and is towering in the air, a quality he often exhibits to great effect in the opposition box, too.
Reserve: Thiago Silva, Paris Saint-Germain

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Cesar Azpilicueta | Left-Back |
Chelsea | 25
There are many more talented full-backs in an attacking sense but the Spaniard is probably the best old-fashioned left-back around. He's never caught out of position and is a reliable tackler.
Reserve: David Alaba, Bayern Munich

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Toni Kroos | Centre-Midfield |
Real Madrid | 25
Since switching to a deep-lying midfield role at Real Madrid, Kroos has rediscovered the form that briefly made him one of the world's best No. 10s at Bayern -- he rarely wastes a pass.
Reserve: Sergio Busquets, Barcelona

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Paul Pogba | Centre-Midfield |
Juventus | 21
A brilliant technician and physically intimidating, Pogba can play any midfield role and seems to get better with every game. He's also capable of some outrageous long-distance goals.
Reserve: Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea

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Arjen Robben | Right-Wing |
Bayern Munich | 31
A top-class performer for over a decade, Robben seems to have improved under Pep Guardiola. He's found an extra yard of pace, is less predictable in possession and is now a regular goalscorer.
Reserve: Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal

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Lionel Messi | Centre-Forward |
Barcelona | 27
Cristiano Ronaldo may have won the last two Ballon d'Or awards but there's still little to choose between he and Messi, who is among the best passers, dribblers and finishers in the world combined.
Reserve: Carlos Tevez, Juventus

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Cristiano Ronaldo | Left-Wing |
Real Madrid | 30
Having recently turned 30, Ronaldo should theoretically be on the way down, but his goalscoring record remains outrageous and his counter-attacking speed is absolutely frightening.
Reserve: Neymar, Barcelona

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Sergio Aguero | Striker |
Manchester City | 26
Starting to rival Messi and Ronaldo with his goalscoring record, if not his all-round play. Aguero is little more than a brilliant penalty box striker, but his acceleration and unerring finishing makes him a must-watch.
Reserve: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain

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