Following an action-packed display in the round-of-16 of the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) governed Champions League, eight teams have progressed to the quarter-finals of the coveted competition. The running now gets tough in the biggest club competition of the world. The previous stage witnessed everything a football enthusiast expects from the competition and now it only gets bigger and tougher.
The big surprise is that Real Madrid — the defending champions of the competition — have been eliminated by the Dutch side, AFC Ajax. England’s Manchester United scripted an inspirational comeback after a two-goal deficit from the first leg while their derby rivals Manchester City ran a rout agist their opponents defeating Schalke by 10-2 on aggregate.
Barcelona cruised past Lyon comfortably, while Liverpool eliminated Bayern Munich after a 3-1 away win in the second leg. Cristiano Ronaldo starred with a hattrick to carry his Juventus side past Atletico Madrid in the second leg. Other teams to qualify were FC Porto, and Tottenham Hotspurs, who defeated Borussia Dortmund in both legs.
Several star footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Leroy Sane, Sadio Mane, Romelu Lukaku among others made a mark in the competition in the previous stage and now the competition will get more intense in the next stage as the talisman of some of the top clubs of the world will be expected to step up.
Here is the list of five footballers you should keep an eye on in the next stage of the UEFA Champions League:
Cristiano Ronaldo: The most obvious one. The Portuguese international has been labeled as ‘ Mr. Champions League’ for his sensational display in the competition, where he has represented with three clubs now – Manchester United, Real Madrid and now, Juventus. Doing so, the 33-year-old has won the tournament five times already and shows no signs of stopping. His hattrick against Atletico singlehandedly propelled his side to qualification.
Lionel Messi: In Champions League, the Argentine’s arch-rival Ronaldo pips him with a richer record but Messi too, has an immensely commendable record to boast of. The five-time Ballon’ dor winner promised the Barcelona fans after the finals match of last season that his side would be gunning for glory in this competition. His two-goals and two-assists for his side in the round-of-16 aided them to a comfortable qualification. It will be interesting to see if Juventus comes up against Barcelona in the Champions League.
Harry Kane: His season has been marred with injuries but still he is the second-highest goalscorer of the Premier League. The FIFA 2018 golden boot winner will look to emulate the form he displayed in the World Cup as Tottenham Hotspurs eye a historic Champions League glory.
Sadio Mane: The winger tricked Manuel Neuer to score an absolute worldie against him in the round-of-16, and then he scored another. Currently, he is in better form than Mo Salah for Liverpool.
Sergio Aguero: He is one of the most lethal strikers in the world and is the current Premier Legaue topscorer. The Argentine is Pep Guardiola-led Manchester City’s talisman and his side are the favorites of the competition.