UEFA Champions League 2023-24 returned with 16 high-intensity fixtures across Tuesday (October 3) and Wednesday (October 4). While the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Newcastle United dazzled fans with a show of strength, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), and Arsenal failed to live up to lofty expectations.
Below, we will take a quick look at a handful of players who stood out this week in the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League. Without further ado, let’s check out the top five performers from UCL Matchday 2:
#5 Julian Alvarez – Manchester City
Manchester City picked up an impressive comeback win over RB Leipzig on Matchday 2 of the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League season. The 3-1 win was down to the timely introductions of Jeremy Doku and Julian Alvarez, with the attacking pair chipping in with one goal each.
While Doku also performed superbly, Alvarez’s performance felt more urgent and directed, leading to his selection over the Belgian. Introduced in the 79th minute, Alvarez got on the scoresheet just five minutes later, applying a sensational finish to Doku’s layoff. The 2022 FIFA World Cup winner took a touch on the edge of the area to set himself up and then found the back of the net with an unstoppable curler.
After pulling City ahead (2-1) for the first time, Alvarez also turned provider, spearheading a devastating counter-attack and superbly finding Doku in space. The jet-heeled forward made no mistake in guiding it beyond the Leipzig keeper.
#4 Bruno Guimaraes – Newcastle United
Following a goalless draw with AC Milan in their UEFA Champions League opener, Newcastle United welcomed PSG to St. James’ Park for their Matchday 2 appointment. Many expected the Parisians to dominate proceedings, but the Magpies had other ideas. Despite having less of the ball, Eddie Howe’s side bossed the game and deservedly walked away with a 4-1 victory. Central midfielder Bruno Guimaraes was at the heart of it all. He passed the ball around with authority, pressed PSG midfielders aggressively, and created chances at will.
After seeing his strike saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 39th minute, Guimaraes showed superb awareness to find Dan Burn with an inch-perfect cross at the far post. The left-back, waiting to bounce, expertly guided the ball beyond the keeper.
Against PSG, Guimaraes completed 25 passes, created two chances, and played eight passes into the final third. On the defensive front, he made a whopping 14 recoveries, won both his tackles, and came out on top in five of eight ground duels.
#3 Rasmus Hojlund – Manchester United
Manchester United swallowed another defeat in the UEFA Champions League this season, succumbing to a 3-2 loss to Galatasaray at Old Trafford on Tuesday. While the Red Devils’ overall display was undoubtedly poor, Rasmus Hojlund’s performance was near-spotless.
The 20-year-old center-forward scored two excellent goals, giving United the lead on two occasions. His first goal came in the 17th minute, with him applying a simple headed finish to send Marcus Rashford’s delivery beyond the goalkeeper.
The Dane scored again in the 67th minute, this time doing all the work by himself. Making the most of an unforced error, Hojlund raced away with the ball before chipping the onrushing keeper and putting United 2-1 up. Unfortunately, Hojlund’s efforts counted for naught as Baris Alper Yilmaz (71′) and Mauro Icardi (81′) sealed a notable away win for the Turks.
#2 Alvaro Morata – Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid secured a hard-fought 3-2 win over Feyenoord on Tuesday, and center-forward Alvaro Morata was their standout performer. The Spaniard scored two great goals, on either side of half-time, to seal an important victory for Los Rojiblancos.
Morata showed great awareness in the 12th minute to equalize at the Estadio Civitas Metropolitano. He intercepted a loose ball inside the area and coolly buried it with a left-footed finish. The Spain international doubled his tally in the 47th minute, applying a first-time finish to convert Nahuel Molina’s delivery from the right wing. The brace aside, Morata made two headed clearances, recovered the ball thrice, and won four duels.
#1 Jude Bellingham – Real Madrid
Arguably the signing of the summer, Jude Bellingham extended his purple patch for Real Madrid this week, helping them secure a 3-2 win at Napoli on UEFA Champions League Group C Matchday 2. The former Borussia Dortmund star scored once and claimed an assist to maintain Madrid’s 100% record in the competition.
In the 27th minute, the 20-year-old England midfielder unselfishly laid the ball off for Vinicius Junior inside the area. The effervescent Brazilian applied a confident finish to cancel out Leo Ostigard’s 19th-minute opener. Seven minutes after setting up Vinicius, Bellingham got on the scoresheet in spectacular fashion. Receiving the ball just past the halfway line, Bellingham went on an unstoppable run, leaving four defenders in the dust before finding the top-right corner with a cool right-footed curler.
Over the course of the game, Bellingham created four chances, completed three dribbles, played 13 passes into the final third, and won eight duels.