Introducing the first of a new series where we run the rule over South American players plying their trade outside of the continent and pick out our performance of the week. This particular correspondent realises that this could end up being a lot of work, so we'll see how long we can keep it going for, but the intention is there, loyal reader. Trust us on that one. Anyway, to business.
This week saw a full round of UEFA Champions League fixtures as well as the regular European leagues while in the USA, the competition reached it's conclusion. Here are the nominees, in no particular order:
Lionel Messi. One gets the feeling that we'll be mentioning this chap quite a bit over the weeks; we've heard he's a bit tidy at this football lark. This week, his audacious penalty effort against AC Milan was chalked off - and he was booked - but he slammed home the retake before teeing up Xavi for the winner with THE most audacious through-ball.
Edinson Cavani. Two goals in the UCL game against big-spending Manchester City sealed the win which put one Neapolitan foot into the knockout stages. He was so good that City were immediately linked with signing the Uruguayan come January.
Marcelo Oliveira. One of a number of unheralded South Americans at APOEL, Oliveira has been at the heart of a very effective defensive unit that's guided the Cypriot club to top spot in their UCL group, capped by this week's backs-to-the-wall effort away to cash-rich Zenit St Petersburg.
Pablo Aimar. 32 years old now, Aimar rolled back the years with possibly his best performance in something like six or seven years as Benfica secured progress to the knockout stages of the UCL with a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.
Matiás Fernandez. The Chilean midfielder was in sublime form and bagged a couple of goals at Sporting CP saw off União de Leiria to move within a point of Porto and Benfica at the top of the Liga ZON Sagres which is now open wider than the mouth of the Amazon.
Juninho (Vitor Junior). Beckham, Keane and Donovan may have grabbed the headlines on the night, but the Brazilian's tireless efforts in midfield, screening the back four, went a long way to ensuring LA Galaxy were not only easily the best defensive side in MLS this year, but also took home the bacon in the final against the dangerous, counter-attacking Houston Dynamo.
And the winner is....
He was quite magnificent in Manchester on Tuesday. OK, so it's partly because we don't want to end up giving this to Messi every week, but Aimar deserves this one.
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