The Champions League is in the penultimate stage and four top-class teams remain in the competition hoping to make their way to Istanbul on May 29. More often than not these knockout stages are influenced by x-factor players like Vinicius Jr from Real Madrid or big stars like who can turn the matches on their heads with their influence.
In this blog, we’d look at those players from the teams left in the competition, who may not necessarily be the best players in the squad, but ones who can have a lasting impact on the competition.
ANGEL DI MARIA (Paris Saint-Germain)
PSG were left disappointed in the previous season having lost the final against Bayern Munich. This time around they look well on course of making history as they have progressed to the semi-finals after beating the favourites Bayern Munich.
Angel Di Maria has been an integral part of the squad since 2015. In a team filled with superstars, Di Maria has always ensured that he is one of the first names on the team sheet. So far in the Champions League, he has one goal and four assists. Mauricio Pochettino would be hoping that the Argentine would contribute to this tally by netting against Manchester City. Along with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar Jr he will be the one to look out for.
RIYAD MAHREZ (MANCHESTER CITY)
Another player who goes under the radar because of the attacking talent present in the Manchester City side is the Algerian forward Riyad Mahrez. He may be 30 now but he is at the peak of his footballing abilities.
He scored the all-important goal against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals of the Champions Leagueand that is his only goal in European competition this season. He’d relish playing against the PSG defence as he’d have enough room to apply his trade and display his creativity. We can expect him to get on the scoresheet across the two ties.
CHRISTIAN PULISIC (CHELSEA)
This is Christian Pulisic’s second season at Chelsea and it’s safe to say that the American forward is still finding his feet in English football. Thomas Tuchel knows him from their time together at Borussia Dortmund and the duo would hope to get the best out of each other in the blue of Chelsea.
Fitting the attacking pieces has been a difficult task for Tuchel to nail so far in his early days at the London club. Pulisic has been used time and again as an impact substitute but he started against FC Porto in the quarter-finals and scored an important goal. In a tough test against Real Madrid, Chelsea would be looking at Pulisic to make an impact whether it’s off the bench or from the start.
VINICIUS JR (REAL MADRID)
Vinicius Jr was the star of the first leg against Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The Reds were unable to cope with his pace and dribbling skills on the left side of the pitch. He created all sorts of issues for Liverpool in the first leg and finished two beautiful chances. So far pundits have been critical of the final product of Vinicius Jr but he showed at the biggest stage that he is a remarkable talent and is close to becoming the finished article.
Chelsea would struggle to keep him quiet across the two legs and his work rate on the left-hand side would help Real outwork the London-based team. Zinedine Zidane would be backing the Brazilian to get on the scoresheet yet again for the Los Blancos.
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