Champions League: Picking a Combined XI From Group F

Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland
Both of these strapping young lads feature, don’t worry | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Featuring Lazio, Borussia Dortmund, Zenit St. Petersburg and Club Brugge, Group F is not the most glamorous in this season’s Champions League.

In non-coronavirus times, some of those games would have at least created some feverous atmospheres. However, with supporters still barred from entry across the continent we’ll have to make due with artificial crowd noise for now.

Be warned, our combined XI for this group is ridiculously attacking – enough to make Sean Dyche faint. We’ve gone for a 4-2-4 to accommodate all this offensive talent, check out the full team below.

SS Lazio v FC Internazionale - Serie A
A real contender for the most handsome goalkeeper on the planet | MB Media/Getty Images

Lazio stopper Thomas Strakosha is the standout goalkeeper in Group F, particularly with Roman Burki’s form dipping in recent times.

During the 2019/2020 Serie A season, the Albanian racked up 11 clean sheets and also registered a 75.9% save percentage.

That figure was the fifth highest in the league and better than the likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma and Samir Handanovic. Aged just 24, a move to a European giant could be just around the corner.

Thomas Meunier, Mohamed Fares
Meunier brings some much needed solidity to our backline | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

As we mentioned, our combined XI is ridiculously attacking so we’ve opted for a sensible option at right-back.

Thomas Meunier is the most solid defender available and we envisage him keeping the right-hand side on lockdown as everyone in front of him wreaks havoc.

If Branislav Ivanovic was still at Zenit he would have a great chance of securing this slot . Okay, maybe not a great chance, but a chance nonetheless.

Mats Hummels
Hummels has been from Bayern to Dortmund to Bayern and then back to Dortmund again | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Mats Hummels has been knocking around in the Champions League for close to a decade, scooping a runners up medal in 2013.

Despite being into his 30s, the big German continues to bring dominance and composure to the Dortmund backline.

He featured in all of his side’s European games last season and will likely do the same this time out – barring any injury problems.

Francesco Acerbi
Acerbi is probably the best defender in Group F | Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

After a meandering early part of his career, Francesco Acerbi has aged like a fine wine in more recent times.

He only missed two Serie A games last season and is one of the most reliable defenders around. Will he be able to adapt to playing in our back four? Well, he’s going to have to.

Guerreiro is the archetypal modern wing-back
Guerreiro is the archetypal modern wing-back | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

More suited to operating as a flying wing-back, Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro is undertaking a more defensive role in our combined XI.

Last season, the Portugal international was in the form of his life. He racked up eight goals and five assists in all competitions and played in each of his side’s Champions League fixtures.

Sergej Milinkovic Savic
Just chilling out, you know how it is | Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, aka the Sergeant, is the definition of a box-to-box midfielder.

Standing 6’3″ tall, the Serbian is still just 25 years old and has been dominating opposition teams for several years.

This season is Milinkovic-Savic’s very first in the Champions League and he will be hoping to make his mark with some impressive performances.

Axel Witsel
Witsel just sneaks into the team over some stiff competition | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

As tempting as it was to select the mercurial Luis Alberto, we thought it best to opt for the increased solidity offered by Axel Witsel.

Ever since the Dortmund and Belgian star returned from the footballing wilderness of the Chinese Super League, he has taken BVB’s midfield to the next level.

There aren’t many player in the modern game capable of combining textbook technique and supreme physicality. Witsel manages it though.

Jadon Sancho
Sancho is one of the best forwards on the planet | Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Manchester United star… oh, wait a minute. Scratch that.

Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho has been turning heads ever since he gave up an easy life at Manchester City to test himself in the Bundesliga.

Since making that switch in 2017, the Englishman has gone on to register 80 direct goal involvements in just 104 appearances for the club. Lucien Favre’s side success in the competition will be highly dependent on Sancho’s form.

Marco Reus
Reus will be hoping for an injury free season | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

After a barnstorming 2018/2019 campaign, Marco Reus will have been bitterly disappointed to have had his 2019/2020 season curtailed by injury.

Even with his fitness problems, the German still managed 11 goals and six assists in the Bundesliga – proving he remains one of the most dangerous forwards around.

That said, Reus has only scored once in the last two Champions League campaigns and will be desperate to change that this time around.

Erling Braut Haaland
This man loves goals | Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Erling Haaland’s emergence onto the scene last season was absolutely unbelievable.

His goalscoring feats in the Austrian Bundesliga were already turning heads in the autumn, but his displays for Red Bull Salzburg the Champions League really caught people’s attention.

In his first ever game in the competition, he bagged a hat trick against Genk. He followed this up with goals in his next five games, also netting a brace in the Round of 16 game against Paris Saint-Germain.

Keep this up and he has a real chance of breaking the all-time goalscoring record.

SS Lazio v Borussia Dortmund: Group F - UEFA Champions League
This man also loves goals | Marco Rosi – SS Lazio/Getty Images

This is Ciro Immobile’s fourth Champions League campaign – each of which has been with a different club.

However, he failed to make an impact quite like he has at Lazio for any of his previous sides, where he’s evolved into one of Europe’s deadliest marksmen.

Since joining the Eagles, the Italian has just shy of 0.7 goals per game – a record that includes 36 Serie A strikes in 37 appearances last season, earning him the European Golden Shoe.