The quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League returns this week in Portugal, and will see a number of African players turn out in Europe’s showpiece club competition.
The Uefa Champions league has always been a competition every top player in the world has dreamt of playing or perhaps lifting the trophy.
There are some few African stars who have lifted the coveted trophy recent times, talking about Joel Matip who recently was part of the successful Liverpool squad that were crowned champions in Spain last year, when they defeated Tottenham Hotspur in the final.
This current campaign, here are five footballers from the continent to keep an eye out for, including stars from Ghana, Algeria and Senegal.
The Algerian winger has already made six appearances in this year’s competition, scoring once and providing four assists. The silky left footed man was an unused sub in City’s 2-1 return leg victory against Real Madrid at the Etihad last week.
Mahrez will be fresh and is itching to take his place once more when the Citizens face a disciplined Lyon side on Saturday.
One of the teams tipped to win this season’s competition is FC Barcelona. The blaugrana side also boast of an African player in Anssumane Fati.
The 17year-old Guinea-Bissau kid has burst into the scene and already made name for himself. The teenage sensation featured four times for the Spanish giant netting once, which came in the final group stage game against Inter.
Barcelona, who will be traveling to Lisbon on Thursday, saw the teen train today as Quique Setien is looking to switch to a 4-4-2 system against the German champions FC Bayern Munich on Friday.
Senegal international Iddrisa Gueye is an unsung hero for French side Paris Saint-Germain in this season’s UEFA Champions League.
The robust midfield general has kept the Paris back line in shape with his defensive qualities in midfield.
Gueye has started and played in the last six outings for the Ligue 1 Champions. The 30year-old midfielder is poised to battle with Italian side Atalanta on Wednesday, a team who netted 107 goals in all competitions this season.
Underdog side Olympique Lyon has made a surprise trip to Lisbon thanks to Coach Rudi Garcia and the discipline Lyon squad who managed to eliminate Italian champions Juventus in the last 16.
During this ongoing campaign, Ivorian left wing-back Maxwel Cornet has emerged as a surprise weapon for the French side, with coach Garcia keeping faith in the full back hence featuring the exciting left-back on six different occasions in this year’s UEFA Champions League.
Lyon will entertain dethroned English champions, Manchester City, on Saturday – a game which promises to be another exhilarating fixture.
The most consistent and the most featured player among our top five African players in the UEFA Champions League, with eight out of eight games played, is the Atletico Madrid midfield engine Thomas Partey.
After putting up a tremendous man of the match performance to knock out current champions Liverpool from the competition in March, the Ghanaian midfield dynamo is looking to continue his excellent performance in Europe’s biggest club competition when Diego Simeone’s side come up against German’s RB Leipzig, who have lost their top goalscorer in Timo Werner to Chelsea last month.
All eight teams are poised to make a mark and with some African players on the watch out this UEFA Champions League season is set to be a never forgotten one.
By Derrick Ayim