Pitchside Europe

Team of the group stage: Magical Messi

Team of the group stage

Lionel Messi unsurprisingly leads our team of the group stage after the Barcelona maestro's stunning performances so far in this season's Champions League.

The Argentine wizard is one of five Barcelona players to make the elite XI after six matchdays of action, during which the Catalan giants breezed into the knockout round with 13 points from Group G.

Andres Iniesta and Xavi form half of the midfield, while full-backs Dani Alves and Jordi Alba take their place in the back four.

Messi is joined up front by rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who helped Real Madrid through a tough 'group of death' which included Manchester City, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund.

Another Liga-based player to make the team is Vicente Guaita, the Valencia goalkeeper who conceded just five goals in his side's six matches.

The impressive Arturo Vidal and Giorgio Chiellini represent Serie A side Juventus while Benedikt Hoewedes gets the nod at the back, the Schalke stopper having put in a string of impressive performances.

Rounding off the team is Sporting Braga's Alan, who matched Messi in the goal stakes with five.

No Premier League players are included in the side.

Team of the group stage statistics (Opta)