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The end of the group stages is in sight with four games done and dusted and the round of 16 is taking shape with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City already through. Here's our pick of the individual performers from this week's games ... and no, there will be no representatives from Copenhagen against Manchester United. Such unseriousness can't be rewarded, ludicrously fun as it certainly was:

GK: Ivan Provedel, Lazio

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Ivan Provedel
LAZ • GK • #94

A curiously underwhelming week for goalkeepers this, one in which those who made the most saves also tended to concede the most as well. Much as I'm tempted to give this spot to Anthony Racciopi, it does seem a little perverse to say that the Young Boys goalkeeper should get the call because while he conceded three goals, the post shot xG says he should have let in three and a half.

Given that it's a second appearance for Provedel, in part a collective chapeau to the Lazio defense that held Feyenoord goalless only a fortnight after they'd been ripped to shreds by the Dutch champions. Equally, the save he made from Santiago Gimenez was as good a parry as this column saw over the last two days.

RB: Giorgi Gocholeishvili, Shakhtar Donetsk

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Giorgi Gocholeishvili
SKD • D • #13

Perhaps the shock of the entire group stage so far came in Hamburg on Tuesday afternoon as Shakhtar stunned Barcelona (the leading lights in the potential champions not named Manchester City grouping) with a performance of real defensive discipline against overwhelming possession and field tilt. One player who can say they were central both to that and the brilliant first-half winner was Gocholeishvili, who timed his run perfectly to collect a cross-field pass by Herohiy Sudakov before finding space between Barcelona's center backs to drop a looping cross onto the head of Danylo Sikan.

Beyond that moment, Gocholeishvili embodied the sheer work that Shakhtar put into this unlikely victory. Take a moment in the sixth minute where Taras Stepanenko hurtles to a loose ball so he can get it ahead of Ilkay Gundogan and Gocholeishvili then does the same to turn a potential Barcelona dart down his flank into an opportunity for the men in orange and black attack. That is how you carry the day against superior opposition.

CB: Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund

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Mats Hummels
BVB • D • #15

Tackle statistics can be among the more misleading in football but when you attempt eight of them and win all eight, you are doing something right. Hummels covered the flanks in remarkably sprightly fashion for a man of his 34 years and simply bullied Callum Wilson whenever the England international tried to get going in the open field. Last time Dortmund met Newcastle, Hummels excelled with his back to the wall. This was more authoritative defending, a hint of disdain rippling through his performance.

If you're going to come to the Westfalenstadion, you're going to have to bring something pretty special, the performance seemed to say. Newcastle did not. Indisputably, Hummels did.

CB: Nacho, Real Madrid

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RMA • D • #6

A routine win at home to Braga is not necessarily the sort of game where you would expect a Real Madrid center back to excel but perhaps part of the reason why the 13 time champions so eased into the knockout stages was the solid platform provided by their captain. From the outset Nacho was winning his aerial duels, mopping up when Braga tried to counter in behind and putting his boot on anything particularly dangerous. What more do you need?

LB: Aihen Munoz, Real Sociedad

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Aihen Munoz
RSO • D • #3

I am once again asking the internet which Real Sociedad player I should pick for team of the week. In many ways that is the point -- how do you slow this brilliant assault on the Champions League when it is the defensive equivalent of whack a mole. You might quell Takefusa Kubo but that probably means you've opened up space for Brais Mendez.

So in the knowledge that the editors at will not simply allow me to name the Real Sociedad starting XI, I'm obliged to pick the man who excelled at both ends of the pitch. Munoz laid on the assist for the game's opener while dominating his defensive duties, winning most of his duels and making plenty of interceptions.

CM: Joey Veerman, PSV Eindhoven

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Joey Veerman
PSV • M • #23

The PSV midfielder might only have lasted just over an hour but he made plenty of telling contributions to a crucial 1-0 win for the Dutch side. In just 66 minutes, Veerman made nine ball recoveries and won three of his four ground duels. Add the three chances he created and this was a consummate midfield display.

CM: Mikel Merino, Real Sociedad

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Mikel Merino
RSO • M • #8

I simply cannot be confined to one player from your new favorite team who could make some noise in the knockout stages. There is something more than a bit baffling about how a team who have broadly failed to set La Liga alight this season are such formidable operators in European football but they will have time to work on translating this form to domestic games now that their path to the knockout stages is assured.

As for Merino, he opened the first half rout and provided an assist for the brilliant third by playing the right pass at the right moment. His 12 ball recoveries also placed him right at the top of those rankings for the week.

RW: Bukayo Saka, Arsenal

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Bukayo Saka
ARS • F • #7

If anyone deserves their share of flowers it is the man who was kicked around the Emirates Stadium in the first 34 minutes, a period where the five fouls Saka suffered drew him level with the entire Paris Saint-Germain team in their defeat to Lazio on Tuesday. It was hard to shake the sense that there was something cynical to the way Sevilla kept hitting him but in true Saka fashion, these fouls were as much about the forward breezing his way past genuine challenges as anything else.

As is his way, the 21-year-old got revenge, a run in behind the defense, brilliantly found by Jorginho before he squared for Leandro Trossard to get the opener in a game Arsenal dominated. Combining with the similarly irrepressible Gabriel Martinelli, he delivered the match winner on the counter, dropping the shoulder to get away from Adria Pedrosa before rolling the ball into the bottom corner.

CAM: Xavi Simons, RB Leipzig

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Xavi Simons

Nominally Simons lined up on the right wing for Leipzig on Tuesday but given that most of the passes he received came in central areas, this seems an occasion that justifies a fair bit of rule bending. So does the quite wonderful goal with which he secured the Bundesliga side's place in the last 16. Such brilliance is rather becoming par for the course where Simons is concerned and Crvena zvezda will doubtless be pleased to see the back of him after wonder goals home and away.

LW: Rafael Leao, AC Milan

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Rafael Leao
MIL • F • #10

Just as you were starting to fret that Leao might be teetering on the brink of a slump, he delivered the sort of performance that made him shine the brightest in San Siro's galaxy of attacking talents. Of course, his overhead kick, its spectacularity not dulled by range, was the stand out moment but his ball carrying pinned wide on the left was vital in allowing Milan to shake off the pressure PSG put on their area. It was hard to track the number of occasions that a clearance would circulate its way to Leao, who would ultimately get his team up the pitch through his dribbling or ability to win fouls.

This was a game to answer critics, as Leao himself would admit. "They push me," he said. "People can keep talking, I talk on the pitch." Talk he certainly does. Loud and clear.

ST: Alvaro Morata, Atletico Madrid

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Álvaro Morata
ATM • F • #19

There he goes, ol'xG buster. Morata sees your valuation of a shot and laughs at it. Three shots worth a combined 0.77 xG? You know he's leaving here with at least a brace. After all, this is the Champions League's joint-top scorer we're talking about.

The shots taken by Morata in the 2023-24 Champions League. Ten shots worth 1.85 xG? That'll be five goals TruMedia

Alvaro Morata. Never doubted him. Not for an instant.