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UEFA Champions League visionaries

Published: Thursday 20 November 2014, 12.29CET
Whether making tackles or scoring goals, all-round vision elevates great players. Champions Matchday, official UEFA Champions League magazine, has six of the best.

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Published: Thursday 20 November 2014, 12.29CET

UEFA Champions League visionaries

Whether making tackles or scoring goals, all-round vision elevates great players. Champions Matchday, official UEFA Champions League magazine, has six of the best.

1. Brazilian blend
FC BATE Borisov must be sick of the sight of Luiz Adriano. Having scored five memorable goals against them for FC Shakhtar Donetsk on matchday three, the Brazilian was rewarded with a call-up by his country's national team. How did he decide to celebrate? With a hat-trick against the same opponents in the return fixture to put Shakhtar within a point of the knockout stage.

The 27-year-old forward is the leading scorer in this campaign with nine goals. Despite his three strikes at Arena Lviv, the best example of the No9's vision and awareness came on 48 minutes, when his cute dummy from Darijo Srna's pass bamboozled the BATE defence and allowed Alex Teixeira to ghost in behind and put the Ukrainian champions 2-0 ahead. 

2. "Seriously cool"
Having seen a third-minute shot go wide and a corner headed against the bar by Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Marco Reus showed great awareness to open the scoring six minutes before half-time against Galatasaray AŞ. The German international made a perfectly timed run across the defence and in between two defenders, brilliantly anticipating a pinpoint pass from right-back Łukasz Piszczek before sliding the ball past goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

Defender Neven Subotić said it was "seriously cool" playing with Reus, adding: "He's one of those players you would have looked up to as a kid. He has such talent and none of us can learn it. Either you have it or you don't. I'll never have it – that's why I'm a defender."

©AFP/Getty Images

3. Left foot forward
Real Madrid CF's left-back Marcelo was at his creative best in their 1-0 home win against Liverpool FC. Only two defenders – Daniel Alves and Stephan Lichtsteiner – have attempted more crosses than Marcelo and none has completed more than the Brazilian's seven.

There was variety as well as accuracy in his delivery, with the most decisive of his 97 touches in the game coming after 27 minutes, when he spotted Karim Benzema's back-post run and whipped the ball behind three defenders to set up a sliding finish.

©AFP/Getty Images

4. Precision from Pogba
Juventus had just registered a somewhat fortunate 65th-minute equaliser – the ball rebounding into the net off Olympiacos FC goalkeeper Roberto – but after two straight defeats, the Bianconeri were in need of more than a point at home to the Greek side.

Only a minute after Roberto's own goal made it 2-2, they took the lead. Paul Pogba, who had been fouled in the first half for the free-kick from which Andrea Pirlo put Juve 1-0 up, could be seen jogging from his own half, keeping a careful eye on what was going on in the outside-left channel as Claudio Marchisio fed substitute Fernando Llorente, whose pass into the box found Pogba with his back to goal.

After the French international's initial back-heeled through ball was blocked, the No6 had the awareness to spot a gap and the quickness of feet to exploit it, lashing the ball low into the left corner of Roberto's net for the winner – and his first UEFA Champions League goal. 

©AFP/Getty Images

5. Eastern block
Tall and strong, it would be easy to consider Nemanja Matić your average midfield heavy. But the Serbian has so much more to his game. His reading of a match is phenomenal and he has the vision to cut out attacks. So far he has made 27 tackles, more than anyone else in the competition, and seven interceptions. Away to NK Maribor, only Cesc Fàbregas completed more passes for Chelsea FC than Matić's 69. Three days later, after another imperious display at Liverpool FC, José Mourinho said: "He's a giant. Not for his size but for the way he plays." Getting on the scoresheet also helps – the former SL Benfica man has scored both of Chelsea's away goals so far. 

©AFP/Getty Images

6. Ox in the box
Despite firing Arsenal FC 3-0 in front at home to RSC Anderlecht, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's first UEFA Champions League goal for three years was not enough to secure the points. But it did showcase the England winger's eye for an opportunity, explosive power and deft touch as he picked up a loose ball on the left and surged into the area before opening up his body and curling a right-footed shot past Silvio Proto on 58 minutes.

The 21-year-old can create as well as finish. In the first half, he spotted Calum Chambers wide on the right and picked out the full-back with a perfect chip. Chambers's cross found Alexis Sánchez, whose thumping shot crashed off the post.

This article appears in the latest issue of Champions Matchday, the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League. Champions Matchday is available in print and in digital format. You can follow the magazine on Twitter @ChampionsMag.

Last updated: 20/11/14 12.46CET

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