Friday, 9 December 2011

Ex-pat of the week #3

The Champions League dominated the week's stories from Europe, albeit the main stories were more about who didn't get through as opposed to those who did. That's where our nominees spring from this week. And so to business.

Gonzalo Higuaín. A strong game in the league against Sporting Gijon for the Argentinian was followed up by an equally strong showing in the Champions League against Ajax, capped with the second of El Real's three goals. On the quiet, the lad's having a decent year.
Kaká. With Real Madrid having already qualified, a number of their regular starters were rested with this weekend's el clasico in mind, so it was a chance for one of the forgotten men to remind us of what he can do. Kaká pulled the strings as El Real saw off a limp challenge from Ajax to maintain the only 100% record in the competition, eliminating the Amsterdammers into the bargain.
Ezequiel Lavezzi. Napoli needed a win in order to make Manchester City's result irrelevant to their qualification prospects. With FC Bayern putting a reserve side out in Manchester, the cashed-up English side were quickly ahead, throwing pressure back onto the Italians. But they kept their composure in Spain and Lavezzi was superb as they engineered a win which secured their progress from a tough group.

Luiz Adriano. An eventful excursion in the Champions League for Shakhtar's Brazilian striker as the Donetsk outfit - already out of the competition - registered their first win of the group stage while also inflicting a first defeat on group winners APOEL. Having seen an early penalty saved, he kept his head when played in for the opener.
Robinho. AC Milan were already through as well, but still sent out a strong side in Plzen. Robinho was the star as Milan cruised into a two-goal lead early in the second half - scoring one and setting up countryman Alexandre Pato for the other - and it's no coincidence that Viktoria only got back on terms after he was subbed off.

The name inside the golden envelope is...

Ezequiel Lavezzi. Context is everything in judging this and with City strolling past a weakened Bayern, Napoli really needed that win. While other nominees had either already qualified or been eliminated, Lavezzi's performance went a long way to securing progression for his club and that's what pushes him over the top this week.

As ever, your contributions are welcome as we aim to keep this enterprise going each week. Leave us a comment on here or hit us up on twitter and let us know who you think should be in the running for this next week.

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