The Champions League Quarter-finals is upon us and we’re in for some riveting encounters. In these unprecedented times, there won’t be the regular two-legged ties but a knock-out tournament will be played in Lisbon, Portugal to determine the new kings of Europe.
The Champions League Quarter-Finals are always exciting and it will be no different this time around. There are a few major players who can determine the results and have a major say in which teams would book their places in the semi-finals. Here we take a look at those top player battles that will headline these majestic clashes.
DUVAN ZAPATA vs NEYMAR JR
Match 1: Atalanta vs PSG
Atalanta have been the story of the season so far. This is the first time in the club’s history that they will compete in the Champions League Quarter-Finals, and are considered as the dark horses of the tournament. They scored a record 98 goals in the 2019-20 Serie A season, shattering a record which stood for 60 years in the Italian league. They are a well-drilled team and a free-scoring one. PSG, on the other hand, have never won a quarter-final match in the Champions League and this seems like the best time for them to clinch a trophy they so desperately desire. Expect goals to fly left, right and centre with the quality these two have in their forward lines.
Duvan Zapata has been Atalanta’s joint-highest goalscorer this season with 18 goals. The forward has been inspirational in Atalanta’s remarkable season and also has seven assists to go along with his goals tally. The Colombian remains in top form ahead of the game against PSG and expect him to get on the scoresheet. He’ll be up against Neymar Jr. who will lead the PSG attack as Kylian Mbappe is doubtful for this particular clash. Neymar has had a decent season so far given his high standards. He is PSG’s second-highest goalscorer with 13 goals and also has six assists along with it. But this is where it matters the most and Neymar would love the fact that all the eyeballs will be on him in this tie. He holds the key for PSG and this matchup promises to be mouthwatering.
MARCEL SABITZER vs ALVARO MORATA
Match 2: RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid
This match is an interesting one to analyse as it’s two teams with totally contrasting footballing philosophies going head-to-head to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. Both teams were the third-best team in their respective leagues. Atletico will be favourites to win this match with the abundance of experience the squad has and given the fact that they reached this stage by beating holders Liverpool. However, this match is in limbo currently as two Atletico Madrid players have tested positive for coronavirus.
Marcel Sabitzer isn’t the most influential player in the RB Leipzig line-up but by far the most effective one. The Austrian’s pace, crossing ability and an eye for goal have been the reason why Leipzig are in the Champions League Quarter-Finals. In seven Champions League matches, the winger has scored four times and will be the one who will trouble Atletico. Alvaro Morata has been Atletico’s highest-scoring player this season. He has scored 12 times for the club and three of those have come in the Champions League. He also scored the goal which knocked Liverpool out of the competition and will be Atleti’s main man in this match as well.
LIONEL MESSI vs ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI
Match 3: FC Barcelona vs Bayern Munich
This one is too close to call and is easily the most awaited match of the quarter-finals. There were doubts regarding Barcelona’s form coming into the Champions League but Messi and Co. have brushed all aside with a strong performance against Napoli. Bayern Munich were too strong for Chelsea and eventually won the tie 7-1 on aggregate. This is the kind of match which deserves a second leg but unfortunately, that won’t be the case this time around.
Lionel Messi shattered almost all records this season in the La Liga. Messi has had a season to remember but as a club, Barcelona have had one to forget. They are looking to redeem themselves and what better way to do so than winning the Champions League. Messi has been on a different level this season with 25 goals and 22 assists in all competitions and easily stands as Barcelona’s leading man. Robert Lewandowski has also had a stellar season for the German champions. He has scored 13 goals just in the Champions League and is the leading goalscorer in the competition so far. Against Chelsea, Lewandowski was remarkably involved in all seven goals across the two legs. If the Ballon d’Or wasn’t cancelled then this particular battle could have been the key to how the award would have unfolded.
RAHEEM STERLING vs MEMPHIS DEPAY
Match 4: Manchester City vs Olympique Lyonnais
Both these teams have come into the Champions League Quarter-Finals knocking out heavyweights like Real Madrid and Juventus, respectively. These teams will be riding high on confidence and look to book their place in the last four of the competition. However, both of these clubs have never won the Champions League with the semi-final being their best-ever finish, something they would look to change this year.
In the absence of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling has emerged as City’s new talisman. Sterling has had his best season ever netting 20 goals for his club. He is City’s highest goalscorer of the season and with six Champions League goals, he is third in the competition for most goals. Sterling’s form will be key for City to get past the French opposition. In the opposition for City, there is a former United player in Memphis Depay who will look to please the red side of Manchester by booking an early flight for City from Portugal. Memphis has scored six times himself in this year’s Champions League and is Lyon’s top goalscorer in the competition. His penalty against Juventus knocked the Turin side out of the tournament. This will be a special battle between the two wingers.
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