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Best players from the 2023/24 UCL quarter-finals

Scroll through the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) and you will find one prevalent opinion: that the fixtures of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals were the best knockout fixtures in recent history.

It was a difficult task choosing the players who stood out at this point in the competition but one tackle, one block, one pass, one shot or one goal helped those on this list stand out from among the many who could have made it.

Here are our picks for the best players from the quarter-finals of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League.

Ousmane Dembélé

Barcelona fans tried to make Ousmane Dembélé’s life hard before and during both legs of their quarter-final clash with Paris Saint-Germain but the 26-year-old kept his cool.

The Stade Rennais academy graduate played his best football all season across the two legs of the tie in the quarter-final.

Dembélé went into the tie with only one goal all season and none in the Champions League. By the end of both legs, he wore a big smile after bagging three goal contributions (two goals and one assist) and the man-of-the-match award in the second leg of the tie in PSG’s 6-4 aggregate win over the five-time Champions League winners.

It was a full-circle moment for Dembélé who has seen a lot of criticism in his career, especially for how he performed in Barcelona’s disastrous UCL runs in recent years. PSG fans will hope he can be as talismanic against Borussia Dortmund in the semi-final.

Both Dortmund tickets for the first leg and PSG vs Dortmund tickets for the second leg of their semi-final tie are available on seatsnet.com.

Andriy Lunin

It was always going to be a big task to fill the shoes of Thibaut Courtois but Andriy Lunin, who came into the season as Real Madrid’s third-choice goalkeeper has more than stepped up to that task.

The 25-year-old, who did not start the Champions League campaign with Madrid thanks to the presence of Kepa Arrizabalaga slowly built his credibility and is now undroppable for Los Blancos in all competitions.

He made eight saves against Manchester City, who were the outright favourites for the semi-final ticket across two legs. It was in the second leg at the Etihad that he shined the most, however, denying the Cityzens many goalscoring opportunities and saving two penalties in the shootout after a 1-1 full-time draw that saw the aggregate score after both matches ended up as 4 – 4.

Real Madrid fans will hope he can be as sharp against Bayern Munich, who they face in the semi-finals.

Both Bayern vs Real Madrid tickets and Real Madrid vs Bayern tickets for the two legs of their semi-final clash are available on seatsnet.com.

Raphinha

Raphinha can be proud of how he performed even though he has played his last UEFA Champions League game for the season with Barcelona.

The Brazilian looked like he was on his way out of the club after teenage wing sensation, Lamine Yamal, upstaged him to take control of the left wing in the team. Injuries did not do his cause justice during this time either.

Now, he is an indispensable part of the club and it was glaring in Barcelona’s Champions League outing against PSG. The former Leeds United man scored three goals across both legs – two openers and one equalizer – and was the most potent attacking threat for the club alongside Yamal.

He was the club’s highest-rated player across both legs with eight shots, four key passes, and three successful dribbles. He was well on his way to bagging two straight man of the match awards until Barcelona capitulated, allowing his former teammates Dembélé upstage him at the second leg of their clash at the Estadi Lluis Companys in Montjuic, Barcelona, which is the Catalan club’s temporary home.

Jules Kounde

Jules Kounde makes our list for one sole reason: his role in keeping Kylian Mbappe quiet over two legs.

Mbappe was expected to run riot against Barcelona like he did when Paris Saint-Germain faced them in the COVID season. However, Xavi Hernandez’s deployment of his international teammate, Kounde, kept him quiet across both legs.

The PSG all-time leading goalscorer had to drift into central areas where he had to deal with both Ronald Araujo and teenage defender Pau Cubarsí in the first leg after meeting incredible resistance from Kounde.

Luis Enrique was forced to take Mbappe more centrally in the second leg, but Kounde was also on hand to render him ineffective for most parts of the game. Even when down to 10 men in the second leg, the partnership between Kounde and Cubarsí kept Mbappe quiet.

It is a sad ending for the Frenchman and his Barcelona teammates, but he can be proud of how he played in both legs. His performance also gives Barcelona fans hope for the future, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the coming transfer window.

Joshua Kimmich

Joshua Kimmich has only gone and put in a shift that solidifies his place as one of the best defensive players in modern football across two legs of Bayern Munich’s quarter-final tie in the UEFA Champions League 2023/24 season.

The six-time winners of the competitions faced Arsenal, who they have had no trouble beating at any point in their meetings. They were at their weakest but still proved too much for the Gunners to handle.

Kimmich was at the heart of it all, bossing the game from the left-back role where he was allowed to drift into defensive midfield as often as he pleased. He also scored the only goal of the second leg in their tie, which helped Bayern with a 3-2 aggregate win over Arsenal to set up a semi-final clash with Real Madrid.

Kimmich, who has been linked with a move to Spain and England in recent months, made four tackles, five clearances and five key passes across both legs. Bayern fans hope the 29-year-old can be as effective against their semi-final opponents Real Madrid.

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