The Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League will complete its first leg this week, with four matches. On Tuesday, Liverpool will host Bayern Munich while FC Barcelona will host Olympique Lyon. And on Wednesday, Atletico Madrid will collide against Juventus while Schalke 04 will host Manchester City.
With several potential title contenders set to see action over the past two days, we will have plenty of football to admire. And with that in mind, here are four players we should keep an eye on as the Champions League continues to progress.
Sadio Mane – Liverpool
When talking about Liverpool, most of the attention goes to Mohamed Salah, Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, just to mention a few players. But considering the current run of form Sadio Mane is going through, it’s hard not to notice the Senegal international. Mane has scored in four straight matches in all competitions, and there’s no question he will play a huge role for The Reds in a tough outing against the reigning Bundesliga champions. Especially considering Liverpool MUST get a positive result in order to avoid unnecessary pressure ahead of the away leg on German soil.
Memphis Depay – Olympique Lyon
Every time Barcelona step on the pitch, guys like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele will get the attention, just to name a few. But if there’s one player that can turn things around for Lyon in this tie, that’s Memphis Depay. In absence of French playmaker Nabil Fekir, who’s suspended, the Dutch international will have to step his game up. The former Manchester United star only has one goal in six matches during the side’s Champions League run, but he will be the one in charge to lead the team’s attacks against Barca. Can he appear for Leon when the side needs him the most?
Paulo Dybala – Juventus
Cristiano Ronaldo is undoubtedly the best player for Juventus, and the same could be said for Antoine Griezmann at Atletico Madrid. And while both – arguably two of the best 10 strikers in the world right now – will catch most of the lights, one player to watch should be Paulo Dybala. The former Palermo star has been linked with a move away from Juventus this season, but he keeps playing at a high level. He scored an impressive goal the last time out against Frosinone, and has five goals in five Champions League appearances this term. Can he make an impact against one of the top defensive units in Europe?
Leroy Sane – Manchester City
The German winger was under heavy scrutiny during most of 2018 due to attitude concerns and the fact that he didn’t play for Germany in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But he’s been picking things up of late, and now he will have a huge chance to prove his worth against the club that saw him start his senior career. Sane netted a brace in the final group stage game against another Bundesliga outfit – Hoffenheim – and this season he has scored 16 goals in 31 appearances across all competitions. He also netted against Newport County in the FA Cup, so he enters this game on a strong note.
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