Team: FC Salzburg
In a league of their own in Austria – leading the Bundesliga by 17 points – Salzburg showed they can cut it in Europe too, with Jonatan Soriano's outrageous 50-metre lob the pick of their three unanswered goals in Thursday's startling UEFA Europa League round of 32 first-leg success at AFC Ajax. Seasoned observers might have seen it coming: Roger Schmidt's side strode through Group C with six straight victories, and have now won their last ten in all competitions. Moreover, since the Bundesliga restarted at the beginning of the month, they have scored 15 times in three games – including five for the UEFA Europa League's six-goal top marksman Soriano. "What you saw here in Amsterdam was typical of the way we play," the hitman said on Thursday night. "Pressing, pressing, pressing when we don't have the ball, and when we are in possession being very direct."
Player: Zlatan Ibrahimović (Paris Saint-Germain)
You cannot keep the Sweden forward out of the headlines and he dominated the back pages again this week. After a goal in last Friday's 3-0 Ligue 1 victory over Valenciennes FC, the 32-year-old put in an outstanding display at Bayer 04 Leverkusen in midweek. He struck twice in the 4-0 round of 16 first-leg win to move top of the UEFA Champions League's scoring chart – his second a peach as he speared the ball in from range to leave Paris with one foot in the quarter-finals. "I don't know if I am the best player ever to play in the French league, alongside Zinédine Zidane," he later remarked modestly. "It's up to others to judge. But I take it as a compliment."
Goal: Ramos Borges Emerson (AS Livorno Calcio)
Some great goals are the result of finesse, some the culmination of outstanding team-work, others all about raw power. Emerson's 44th-minute thunderbolt at Cagliari Calcio last Sunday definitely fell into the third category. Collecting possession 40 metres from goal, the 33-year-old Brazilian shifted the ball out of his feet and smashed an unstoppable left-footed effort into the top corner to set Livorno on course for a 2-1 Serie A win. Emerson has form in this area, striking from similar distance against Torino FC in October. "It's absolutely the best goal of my career," he said at the time. After Sunday's 'worldie', he may have a new favourite.
"A kite flying against the wind can climb even higher!"
Apollon Limassol FC coach Christakis Christoforou's eloquent response when asked by reporters if pressure is the reason his team have struggled of late.
There was a sense of deja vu for the English fan watching Arsenal FC being overturned by FC Bayern München on Wednesday. Like Manchester City FC against FC Barcelona 24 hours before, the home side were surviving until a red card spoiled their plans, and like the City match the all-important breakthrough came on 54 minutes. Late goals made it 2-0 in either round of 16 first-leg tie, leaving England's opening two representatives with a mountain to climb.
Chauffeur: Martin Jørgensen
ACF Fiorentina received a welcome surprise when they arrived on Danish soil for Thursday's UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg against Esbjerg fB. Ex-Viola winger Jørgensen was behind the wheel of the team bus as it rolled up to collect them from the airport. The 38-year-old former Danish international – capped 102 times and still playing for AGF Aarhus – left Florence in 2010 after 13 Italian seasons and now owns a bus company. He jumped at the chance to reacquaint himself with his old club by nominating himself as driver for the duration of their successful stay in Denmark.
Multitasker: Stjepan Benić
The draw has not been kind to Benić in Croatia's lower league cup competition, providing the coach with the ultimate case of split loyalties by forcing him to tactically out-think himself. The 67-year-old is in the unusual position of coaching two different clubs, third-division NK Karlovac 1979 and fifth-tier NK Petrova Gora, and the unfortunate draw has left him with a headache. "I agreed I will work Thursdays with Petrova Gora, who play on Sundays, while at Karlovac I am in charge on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with matches on Saturdays," explained Benić. "For the cup game I will be on the Karlovac side and the Petrova Gora president will coach their team. I cannot lose!"
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