Vote for your best ACL2019 Team: Midfielders
Kuala Lumpur: As the resumption of the 2020 AFC Champions League draws ever closer, the-AFC.com continues its quest to find out who you, the fans, consider the 'Best XI' from previous editions of the Continental competition.
Champions Al Hilal have made their presence felt in this best XI so far, although with just one contender in the running for the midfield positions, there's a chance for others to stake their claim for a place in the side. So, review the list and don't forget to vote for your favourite at the bottom of the article.
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Salem Al Dawsari – Al Hilal
As was the case in 2017, Salem Al Dawsari came alive in the knockout rounds. A goal and an assist in the quarter-final second leg against arch-rivals Al Ittihad proved crucial, while the winger was again on the scoresheet in the semi-final victory over Al Sadd.
Two years previously at Saitama Stadium, Al Dawsari's tournament finished on a sour note as he was sent off in defeat to Urawa Red Diamonds. It ended in perfect fashion at the same venue this time, though, as the Saudi international's goal all but sealed a historic title for Al Hilal.
Ewerton – Urawa Red Diamonds
Ewerton's importance in the Urawa midfield cannot be understated, with the Brazilian both a driving force and a composed presence in helping the Saitama side reach a third final. He even netted a rare goal in an excellent second-leg away victory at Ulsan Hyundai.
But it is in the engine room where Ewerton did most his good work, winning more tackles than any other player and finishing joint top when it came to duels won. Furthermore, no midfielder made more successful passes than the Sao Paulo native.
Paulinho – Guangzhou Evergrande
It seems like a long time ago that Paulinho first graced the AFC Champions League but the Brazilian continues to shine in the Guangzhou Evergrande midfield, where he played almost every minute of every game on their march to the semi-finals.
The former Barcelona man's most notable contribution came in the last 16 when, heading for the exit door against domestic rivals Shandong Luneng, he curled in a fabulous extra-time free-kick to force penalties. He later netted from the spot and Guangzhou progressed.
Oscar – Shanghai SIPG
One of the classiest midfielders in the AFC Champions League over recent years, Oscar was once more the creative hub in the Shanghai SIPG side, pulling the strings for the likes of Hulk and Elkeson ahead of him to shine.
The 28-year-old netted a hat-trick in a must-win group stage game against Ulsan Hyundai, while his four assists and 33 chances created were both statistics that were bettered by no other player in the 2019 edition.
Leonardo – Al Wahda
Leonardo hit the headlines when he scored an incredible four goals in one group stage game against Al Rayyan as Al Wahda came from 3-1 down to seal a dramatic 4-3 victory in a campaign that saw them reach the knockout rounds for the first time since 2007.
The Brazilian also scored crucial group stage goals against Al Ittihad and Lokomotiv while he added another in the last 16 against Al Nassr, only for the Emiratis to lose on away goals. He finished the campaign as the second highest scorer with nine goals, despite playing just seven games.
Talisca – Guangzhou Evergrande
An attacking midfielder who drives at opposition defences and is a huge threat in the air, Talisca began his first AFC Champions League in style. He netted four times in his first three games, the highlight being a stunning curling effort against Melbourne Victory that brought Tianhe Stadium to their feet.
Injury curtailed the Brazilian's involvement between mid-April and August, but he returned to head home the decisive goal against Kashima Antlers in the quarter-finals to send the defending champions tumbling in their own back yard.
Giuliano – Al Nassr
With prolific teammate Abderazak Hamdallah in and out of the team through injury, Giuliano was the man who stepped forward to take on the goal-scoring mantle in his place, netting a hugely impressive six times in what was his debut campaign.
The stylish midfielder scored three in the group stage but stole the headlines in the last 16, bagging a brace as Al Nassr came from behind to defeat Al Wahda and reach the last eight for the first time. He added another against Al Sadd, but ultimately his side fell just short.
Serginho – Kashima Antlers
One of the stars of Kashima Antlers' 2018 title-winning campaign, Serginho picked up where he left off by curling home a wonderful match-winning strike against Johor Darul Ta'zim on Matchday One as the holders began the defence of their title in style.
He may not have been as prolific as the previous year but a late winner at Gyeongnam secured a valuable group stage win, while there was another vital goal in the last 16 against Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Marouane Fellaini – Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
A big-name signing for Shandong Luneng ahead of the 2019 season, Marouane Fellaini played every minute of every game for his side, producing the kind of performances that have forged his reputation during his time with Manchester United – most notably, headed goals.
The Belgian's quality in the air has long since been known; the art of thwarting him continues to trouble opposition defences, however. Three of Shandong's goals, including a decisive one at Gyeongnam, came courtesy of Fellaini's head as the Jinan club reached the knockout rounds.
Leo Silva – Kashima Antlers
The engine in the heart of the Kashima midfield, Leo Silva was one of the AFC Champions League's most consistent and impressive players between 2018 and 2019, with his reading of the game, technical ability and creativity all part of an impressive repertoire.
No midfielder created more goals that Leo Silva's four and, indeed, it was he who assisted the decisive goals that saw the holders advance from both the group stage and then the Round of 16 before falling at the quarter-finals.
The poll ends on September 5 at 4pm (UTC+8). The Best XI chosen by fans and the best XI based on the 2019 statistics will be announced in mid September.
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