Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been the front-runners to be crowned as the best players in UEFA Champions League seasons after seasons so it would not be a surprise to find those two leading the charts for the players to watch out for in this season’s Champions League round of 16 and beyond.
With Champions League 2017-18 season entering the Round of 16 stage, we take a look at the five players who will have a major impact on their teams and the knockout rounds of the Champions League 2017-18 season, excluding Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
5 players to watch out for at the Round of 16
The flamboyant Brazilian has been one of the best players in Europe this season where he has scored 27 goals and managed 14 assists from just 26 matches this season. Other than Cristiano Ronaldo, it was only Neymar who had a hand in 10 Champions League goals in the group stages of the 2017-18 season. Neymar managed 6 goals and 4 assists in the group and PSG will need him to be at his best as the Ligue 1 side’s Round of 16 clash is against the reigning Champions League holders Real Madrid.
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Talking about goal-scoring, there aren’t many players better than Harry Kane at the moment as the English striker has already scored 31 goals this season with 6 of those coming in the Champions League. Harry Kane and Spurs will have a tough fight on their hands in the Round of 16 as they will be up against a Juventus side who are peaking at the right time and will provide a stiff competition for the Premier League side.
Mohd. Salah (Liverpool)
Not far behind Harry Kane in terms of Premier League goals is Liverpool’s talisman Mohd Salah with 21 league goals to his name. Salah was the key factor for Liverpool in topping their group with 5 goals and 1 assist to his name. With Philippe Coutinho’s departure in January, the entire focus will be on Salah to lead Liverpool beyond the round of 16 stage. Liverpool will face Porto in Champions League’s Round of 16 stage, with Salah expected to be the player to watch out for.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Many are calling for Kevin De Bruyne as the best playmaker in the world at the moment and it is hard to deny the notion after the Belgian has managed 14 assists and 11 goals this season with 3 of those assists coming in the group stage of the Champions League 2017-18 season. If Man City are to have a fruitful Champions League campaign, they will need to keep De Bruyne at his best form and breaking through the opposition’s defences at will. Man City take on FC Basel in the Round of 16 of Champions League this season.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
We did not see the best of Robert Lewandowski in the group stages of the Champions League 2017-18 season owing to Carlo Ancelotti’s inconsistent stay at Allianz Arena. Despite a stop-start season, Lewandowski has scored 25 goals this season with 3 of those coming in the Champions League. However, since the re-appointment of Jupp Heynckes, the polish striker has once again found his goal-scoring touch and has scored 12 goals in his last 15 appearances. Bayern will hope that Lewandowski will be at his best when they entertain Besiktas in the group stages of the Champions League 2017-18 season.