VIDEO: Stones, Dzeko & The Ones to Watch in the UEFA Champions League

The long wait is over – club football’s greatest competition is back!

But who will lead his club to glory with the most impressive performance this week?

Who will rise up above the rest and be crowned the UEFA Champions League Player of the Week, sponsored by Banco Santander?

Will Roma striker Edin Dzeko inspire his side past reigning champions Real Madrid? With five goals and two assists already, nobody has been involved in more goals than he has in this year’s competition.

Football Santander | Player of the Week Ones to Watch MD5 | Groups E-H

The UEFA Champions League returns tonight! Who will emerge as a Player of the Week contender on Matchday 5?
Posted by Football Santander on Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Or will John Stones help Manchester City pass their way through Lyon by keeping up his 96 per cent pass completion rate?

AEK Athens’ goalkeeper Vasilios Barkas has also been impressive with his distribution, completing a competition-best 54 accurate long passes so far, and he will be key to his side’s chances against Ajax.

Young Boys head to Old Trafford hoping to give Manchester United the run-around, but holding midfielder Nemanja Matic will be well prepared – he’s covered 45.6km in four UCL matches this season, more than anyone else in Group H.

Voting for Player of the Week opens on Thursday .

Follow Football Santander on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram for continued coverage of the UEFA Champions League.


Why Dzeko won’t be the answer to Real Madrid’s striker search

Real Madrid’s search for a new striker will not lead them into luring Edin Dzeko away from Roma, Goal understands.

Speculation regarding a possible move for the Bosnian frontman has been building steadily as the January window draws ever closer.

There have been no denials coming out of Santiago Bernabeu regarding supposed interest in a proven performer currently plying his trade in Serie A, but a deal is highly unlikely.

Dzeko is not enjoying the best of times in front of goal in 2018-19, with a barren run having been extended to six games for club and country.

That sequence has been taken into account by the Blancos, who already boast plenty of international-calibre firepower on the books in the form of Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Isco, Karim Benzema, Lucas Vazquez, Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz.

Santiago Solari has declared himself to be happy with his current options and will not be pushing his board to deliver another fresh face over the winter.

Stability is being welcomed in the Spanish capital, following an upturn in form in the wake of Julen Lopetegui’s departure, and there is an acceptance that spending for the sake of it at this stage may not be the wisest choice.

Madrid are also eager to land another marquee addition at some stage, with links to Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar refusing to go away as a suitable replacement is sought for the departed Cristiano Ronaldo.

Edin Dzeko Roma

Immediate cover may be pursued in January, but Dzeko is not going to be the man to answer the call.

The 32-year-old frontman passed up the opportunity to head back to England a year ago, with the former Manchester City star opting to shun interest from Chelsea.

He stated his full commitment to Roma at that stage and expressed a desire to take in more memorable Champions League nights with the Giallorossi.

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That stance has not changed, while Dzeko’s wife has made it clear that her preference would be to remain in the Italian capital, rather than head to cities of a similar standing in England or Spain.

Roma are also under no pressure to sell, with big-money deals in recent windows having helped them to balance the books.

With all of those factors taken into account, the chances of Dzeko making his way to Madrid in 2019 are minimal and alternative options will be considered – be that in January or for next summer.


Fantasy Football: Defenders take centre stage again in our Champions League Team of the Week

It was another week of defensive dominance in the Champions League as nine of the 16 matches this week featured a clean sheet. This trend was certainly reflected in Fantasy as well with the maximum amount of defenders allowed (five) making it into our Team of the Week. To see who they are, and who else made the cut from round three, just keep reading!


GK: Fernando Muslera – Galatasaray – 1 Game, 6 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DEF: Achraf Hakimi – Borussia Dortmund – 1 Game, 3 Assists, 1 Clean Sheet = 16 Points

The left-back sure had an incredible Wednesday. Not only did Dortmund shock Atletico Madrid with a 4-0 victory, but three of those goals were assisted by Hakimi. Earning the clean sheet at the end was just the cherry on top of this performance which earned him the title of Goal Fantasy Player of the week. Looking forward, assuming he starts the remaining Champions League matches, Hakimi looks an amazing value costing just 5.5m!

DEF: Raphael Guerreiro – Borussia Dortmund – 1 Substitute Appearance, 2 Goals = 15 Points

DEF: Aymeric Laporte – Manchester City – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

Aymeric Laporte Manchester City 2018-19

DEF: Jordi Alba – Barcelona – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

Any fears that Barcelona would struggle without Lionel Messi were swiftly put to bed as Barcelona cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over Inter Milan. Alba’s contributions were significant again, this time as he picked up his first Champions League goal of the year. Currently, no defender has more assists or Fantasy points than the Spaniard which makes him worth owning for the rest of the group stages, and beyond.

DEF: Rafinha – Bayern Munich – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

MID: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool – 1 Game, 2 Goals – 14 Points

After a three-week goal drought, Mohamed Salah has now scored three goals in the last five days! The brace was a big part of Liverpool’s win against Red Star Belgrade which propelled them to the top of Group C. As for Fantasy, this was the first time the Egyptian scored in this competition which has reduced his value somewhat, especially considering he’s still the second most expensive midfielder in the Goal game. That having been said, he could still prove to be worth his price tag as his next Champions League match will also be against Red Star.

Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2018-19

MID: Jesus Corona – Porto – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

MID: Bertrand Traore – Lyon – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

FOR: Edin Dzeko – Roma – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 15 Points

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After his brace this week, no player has scored more Champions League goals than Dzeko this season (five). In fact, he’s now only three goals behind his tally from last season’s campaign in which he played eight more matches. That goal tally has pushed him to the top of the heap in the Goal game in total points and, in this kind of form, the Roma man is a must own regardless of matchup.

FOR: Andrej Kramaric – Hoffenheim – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 12 Points



Roma boss Di Francesco hails ‘extraordinary’ Dzeko

Eusebio Di Francesco singled out Edin Dzeko for individual praise after the Roma striker scored twice and set up another in the 3-0 Champions League win over CSKA Moscow.

Dzeko netted his fourth and fifth goals of the Champions League campaign in the space of 13 first-half minutes at Stadio Olimpico, before teeing up Cengiz Under after the interval.

It marked a timely return to form for Dzeko, who has now been directly involved in 16 goals in his last 14 Champions League appearances, following an abysmal showing by Roma’s attack in a 2-0 Serie A defeat to SPAL.

And Roma head coach Di Francesco was delighted with his side’s reaction, and Dzeko’s display in particular. 

“If he’d scored [against SPAL] that would have been even better,” Di Francesco said.

“I must say, he’s an extraordinary player, and not just in terms of his finishing – he gets the team playing, brings the ball down and produces good service for his team-mates.

“He’s a fantastic professional, his pre-match preparations are always spot-on. When he has a bad game he might appear lethargic, but he does well when he’s determined.

“There were things I wasn’t happy with against SPAL, some occasions where focus was lacking. That’s football, you can never let your guard down.

“We showed a lot of good things, including the ability to dig in. CSKA are good between the lines but we found our rhythm, producing some good play and creating chances.”

Veteran Roma captain Daniele De Rossi echoed the coach’s thoughts.

“This was a great reaction after losing badly on Saturday in this stadium,” De Rossi told

“It’s never easy to come back here after a defeat and show the personality to win so clearly. We were good, now let’s try to be good more often.”

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CSKA coach Viktor Goncharenko, meanwhile, insisted that his side – who sit third in Group G on four points – can take positives from their performance.

“I don’t want to focus on negative things. We are moving forward, our young team is getting an invaluable experience by playing in these sort of games,” he told

“Surely, it will help us when we face Roma in Moscow. We’ll do our homework.”


Roma 3 CSKA Moscow 0: Dzeko turns on the style

Edin Dzeko continued his fine run of form in the Champions League by scoring twice and setting up another to lead Roma to a 3-0 victory over CSKA Moscow in Group G.

Following a hat-trick in Roma’s last Champions League outing against Viktoria Plzen, Dzeko was at his best again on Tuesday, taking the game away from CSKA – who beat defending champions Real Madrid in their previous outing – in the space of 13 first-half minutes.

Having rounded off a superb passing move for Roma’s opener, the Bosnia-Herzegovina striker doubled the hosts’ tally with a typically composed finish in the 43rd minute.

Dzeko was not done there, though, claiming an assist five minutes into the second half when Cengiz Under hammered home to wrap up the points and move Roma up to second.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side were second best early on but went ahead on the half-hour mark, Dzeko nudging home from Lorenzo Pellegrini’s cutback at the culmination of an exquisite team move.

An under-hit pass towards Under stopped the former Manchester City striker from turning provider, while the impressive Nikola Vlasic tested Robin Olsen at the other end.

But Roma got their second when Stephan El Shaarawy teed up Dzeko, who made no mistake with a first-time effort into the bottom-left corner.

Roma showed no signs of slowing down after the restart and made it three when Under thumped in a half-volley from Dzeko’s knock-down.

Dzeko sent a header from inside the six-yard box wide to miss out on his hat-trick and a tremendous stop from Ilya Pomazun stopped Alessandro Florenzi from making the victory even more comprehensive in the 92nd minute.

What it means: Deadly Dzeko gives Roma the edge

Madrid may be in a poor run of form, but Julen Lopetegui’s side are still favourites to progress from Group G after a 2-1 win over Plzen.

This double-header between Roma and CSKA could have a significant outcome on a potential battle for second place and Dzeko, with his five goals in three Champions League appearances this term, could well be the difference for last season’s semi-finalists.

Pellegrini proves his worth

Dzeko will rightly take the plaudits, but credit must also go to Pellegrini. The former Sassuolo midfielder endured a difficult maiden season at Roma but showed his quality with a wonderful piece of skill and vision to set up the home side’s first goal, combining wonderfully with El Shaarawy before flicking the ball over Pomazun and into Dzeko’s path.

Goncharenko’s defensive approach fails

Vlasic impressed for CSKA once more, but apart from the midfielder being integral to a decent enough start, the visitors offered little threat once Roma scored their first. Coach Viktor Goncharenko will have to be more adventurous if they are to progress to the knockout stage.

What’s next?

Roma have a tough trip to Napoli on Sunday, while CSKA are up against fellow Russian Premier League title hopefuls Krasnodar in Moscow on the same day.