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Five Aside
 By Nick Ames

Schmeichel, Neymar and Sergio Ramos make Champions League Best XI

With just eight teams left in the Champions League, the FC panel reveal who they believe will emerge victorious.

With the round-of-16 second legs complete, Nick Ames picks the best Champions League XI.

Do you agree? Have your say in the comments below.

ESPN FC's Champions League Team of the Gameweek.
ESPN FC's Champions League Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper -- Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester)
To save one penalty in a round-of-16 tie might be regarded as useful; to save two is magnificent and although Sevilla's Steven N'Zonzi did not give Schmeichel the hardest of jobs, the Leicester 'keeper still had to guess correctly and anticipate the ball's direction. It would be remiss not to point out that he had conceded it in the first place, but Schmeichel's performance was about more than that: he made a crucial early save from Samir Nasri too and oozed composure in the latter stages as the pressure was piled on.

Right-back -- Djibril Sidibe (Monaco)
In the 24-year-old Sidibe, Monaco have one of the world's most sought-after full-backs. Foraging forward at every opportunity, he was a persistent menace and, barring the second-half purple patch during which Manchester City equalised, was solid in his own half too. Monaco are a thrilling prospect when they pour forward and Sidibe is integral to their free-flowing approach.

Centre-back -- Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Ramos has never been everyone's cup of tea but can anyone seriously doubt his remarkable influence on this Real Madrid side? When they were on the ropes at Napoli he produced when it was needed, with two thumping headers -- the latter diverted in by an unfortunate Dries Mertens -- steering them home after a torrid first half. When the chips are down you can count on Ramos to deliver - at either end of the pitch.

Centre-back -- Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona)
Barcelona's remarkable defeat of Paris Saint-Germain was decided further up the pitch, but Umtiti's presence at the back was an important factor too. One superb first-half tackle on Edinson Cavani may well have been a crucial moment; as the match wore on, and with Barcelona threatened on the counter more than once, his anticipation and sharpness in the challenge came into their own -- as did his calm distribution from defence.

Left-back -- Benjamin Mendy (Monaco)
Make that two of the most sought-after full-backs. Mendy showed exactly why he has been linked with many of Europe's top clubs in the win over City; he is exactly the kind of player Pep Guardiola, for one, could do with and the outlet he provided on the left -- bombing upfield at every opportunity as City's right side was, particularly in the first half, regularly overwhelmed. He also subdued Raheem Sterling at the other end, and the evidence suggests that Monaco should enjoy him while they can.

Central midfield -- Tiemoue Bakayoko (Monaco)
Bakayoko headed Monaco's winner just as they appeared to be a spent force, but his performance was about far more than his decisive goal. The 22 year-old was a dominant midfield presence throughout, especially in a first half that his side controlled from start to finish, and looked to have exactly the physical attributes that City's midfield sometimes lacks -- showing why he is being watched by Manchester United. Alongside the equally excellent Fabinho, who scored Monaco's second goal, he formed a winning partnership that deserved to steer them through.

Central midfield -- Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester)
Leicester have a genuine star on their hands in Ndidi, who appears the perfect replacement for N'Golo Kante and -- at just 20 -- has plenty of time to improve considerably. Ndidi got to grips early on with Sevilla's midfield, helping Leicester squeeze the space and disrupting their opponents' passing rhythm, and covered a vast amount of ground. More than that, though, his ability to pick the right pass took the pressure off his team more than once. On a night for heroes, Ndidi was right up there.

Midfield -- Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich)
Not for the first time, Bayern did not have to be at their very best to teach Arsenal a lesson. They were subdued in the first half at Emirates Stadium but as spaces opened up Vidal seized control remorselessly, exploiting space twice on the counter to score -- the first goal a neat dink over David Ospina -- and showing the kind of cold-blooded attitude his team will require against better opposition in the latter stages.

Left-wing -- Neymar (Barcelona)
Make no mistake, Barcelona would have had no chance of pulling off their amazing comeback had Neymar, from a difficult angle to the left of centre, not bent a perfect free kick past Kevin Trapp with three minutes of the 90 left to play. He showed admirable cool from the spot two and a half minutes later to set the stage for Sergi Roberto's winner -- and it was the least he deserved after a superb performance that, from the first whistle, brimmed with the intent to put things right.

Right-wing -- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund)
Aubameyang's hat trick ensured Dortmund comprehensively overhauled their first-leg deficit against Benfica and served as a reminder that, when he is on form, Thomas Tuchel's side have the ability to beat anyone. His first goal, heading home after a well-timed run to the back post, levelled the tie early on and the strikes that followed -- both converted clinically from close range -- completed a trio of trademark striker's finishes.

Centre-forward -- Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
Vardy did not score against Sevilla -- in fact, he missed a fine chance to score towards the end -- but his performance was about so much more than that. He snapped and snarled into Leicester's opponents from the off, chasing after every ball as if his life depended on it and bothering them sufficiently to win the free kick that created Wes Morgan's opening goal. If he was not exactly an innocent party in Samir Nasri's sending off, that episode was further demonstration that Vardy was determined to play on the very edge and -- come what may -- drag his team through.

Nick Ames is a football journalist who writes for ESPN FC on a range of topics. Twitter: @NickAmes82.


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