The quarterfinals of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League is finally upon us as we head into the final phase of the season.
Individuality often makes a lot of difference in these high-end encounters and looking at the quality of these teams in the last eight, there will be many players who could make a huge impact in this first leg of the quarterfinal matches.
In this article, we will discuss three players worth keeping an eye on in the UCL this week.
Liverpool regained their top spot in the Premier League table with a win over Southampton last weekend, thanks to Salah’s exploits. And the Egyptian will once again be the focal point of the Liverpool attack as they face a tricky test against FC Porto an Anfield on Tuesday.
The attacker’s pace and dynamism coupled with his seemingly telepathic combination with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are sure to cause for problems for the Dragao defence.
However, Porto are often known for their discipline and solidity in big matches and it will be interesting to see how they plan to cope with the threat of this Liverpool superstar this week.
Marcus Rashford will remain Manchester United’s weapon-in-chief when they host the mighty FC Barcelona at Old Trafford this midweek.
The England international has enjoyed a rich vein form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, notably being involved in 16 goals this season. His willingness to take on defenders and exploit spaces in behind the defence could be crucial as United look to catch Barcelona on the counter.
While Rashford will be tasked with the responsibility of catching the Barcelona attack on the break, hopes will be pinned on Lionel Messi to finish this tie in the first leg.
The Argentine superstar is coming on the back of a scintillating form, having been involved in four goals in Barcelona’s whopping 5-1 win over Lyon in the last round.
Messi has also scored eight goals in his last five league matches, meaning United will certainly need to be wary of his presence in the final third if they are to salvage anything from this encounter.
Frenkie de Jong
Ajax’s midfield sensation Frenkie de Jong has continued to impress the footballing world with his remarkable performances not only in the Eredivisie but also in the Champions League this season.
His exploits against Real Madrid in the last round helped the Dutch giants seal a shocking victory over the European champions. But, the 21-year-old will face yet another stern test against Juventus this week.
Even though de Jong is currently nursing an ankle problem, he is expected to return to full fitness before Wednesday.
Sergio Aguero is a huge doubt going into Manchester City’s quarterfinal tie-up against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday. The Argentine is still recovering from an injury and should he fail to make the squad this week, Raheem Sterling could turn out to be the focal point of the Man City attack.
The England international could be deployed in the false nine role or in his customary wide-attacking position, where he will look to carve out the opposing defence with his direct runs and clever movements in the final third.
However, he will have to get past a highly disciplined Tottenham defence, thus making him one of the players worth looking forward to this week.