The Champions League is scheduled to return tomorrow after a gap of nearly five months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with eleven games to be played in just two and a half weeks, this month promises to be an entertaining one for the football fans.
The grand carnival resumes on Friday with Manchester City due to host Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium, while Lyon will simultaneously be in action at the Allianz Stadium as they will face off against newly crowned Serie A champions Juventus.
Barcelona and Napoli will also lock horns at Camp Nou in the second leg of the Round of Sixteen, with the tie evenly poised after a 1-1 draw in the first leg. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s hopes of getting into the last eight are hanging by a thread following their 3-0 battering at the hands of Bayern Munich in the first leg.
Here are five players to watch out for this weekend in the second leg of the Round of Sixteen of the Champions League.
Kevin De Bruyne
Manchester City secured a famous 1-2 away win at Santiago Bernabeu in the first-leg and with Real Madrid’s veteran defender Sergio Ramos suspended, the odds are firmly stacked in favour of Pep Guardiola’s side.
City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who bagged 13 goals and 20 assists in the recently concluded Premier League season, will be striving to give Zinedine Zidane’s backline a run for their money and take the game away from the visitors.
Real Madrid have to nullify City’s lead from the first-leg and must make the most of their star-studded attacking firepower. Their experienced striker Karim Benzema has to step up, failing which they could land in deep trouble.
Benzema has enjoyed an enormously fruitful spell at the Spanish capital and despite approaching the twilight years of his career, he could pose a substantial threat to City’s defence with his link-up play and clinical finishing skills.
Lyon have a slender lead from the first-leg to hold onto but the entire football fraternity is well aware of the damage that Juventus attacker Cristiano Ronaldo could cause, and there is no denying that it will be difficult to keep him at bay.
The 35-year-old smashed 31 goals in 33 Serie A appearances during the recently concluded campaign, helping the Old Lady in clinching the league title in the process, and could singlehandedly take the game away from the French outfit.
Barcelona are in the hunt for their sixth Champions League title and their little magician Lionel Messi is set to lead the charge as usual. The Argentine dazzler could start on the right flank and will be a vital cog in Barcelona’s attack.
Messi has been phenomenal once again this season, having carved 25 goals and 21 assists in the Spanish top-flight, and will be desperate to finish the season with a Champions League winners’ medal around his neck.
Chelsea not only need a big miracle to overturn a three-goal deficit but they also need to restrict Bayern Munich’s goal-machine Robert Lewandowski from finding the back of the net this weekend at any cost.
He is in a rich vein of form and with his offensive prowess, he could easily terrorize Chelsea’s inconsistent defence. Notably, the 31-year-old has plundered 12 goals from 6 Champions League outings so far this term and will look to add to his tally.
Statistics Credits: WhoScored