Which of the continent’s players still featuring in the UCL has the best chance of winning it?
Champions League: Ranking the African stars still standing
- Getty Images
7. Adel Taarabt
- Benfica are the dark horses in the Champions League, but cannot be underestimated after eliminating Ajax in the Round of 16.
- One-time wonderkid Taarabt, now reinvented as a central midfielder, remains a glittering talent on his day, and is enjoying a late-career revival at Benfica even if he’s dropped out of the international reckoning.
- After his previous stints with Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan and Queen’s Park Rangers, Benfica’s showdown with Liverpool may be the biggest match of his career.
6. Samuel Chukwueze
- The last Nigerian still standing in the Champions League, Chukwueze won’t be going to the World Cup, but will surely be targeting another European trophy this season after last year’s Europa League triumph.
- They have to get past Bayern Munich next, but after eliminating Juventus in the last round, the Yellow Submarine will fear no one as they look to reach the final four.
- Chukwueze has had a limited impact in the UCL so far this season—starting just one match—although he could still have a big role to play during the latter stages.
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5. Geoffrey Kondogbia
- Atletico Madrid certainly have their work cut out against Manchester City, but could Diego Simeone be the man who inflicts the latest UCL heartbreak on Pep Guardiola?
- Certainly, the Spanish giants have the resources to frustrate the Prem leaders, not to mention experience of reaching the Champions League final.
- Kondogbia will have a major role to play in the heart of the park, having established himself as a key player at Atleti, while Mozambique’s Reinildo has settled quickly since signing from LOSC Lille in January.
4. Edouard Mendy & Hakim Ziyech
- Chelsea will need to improve dramatically this week following Saturday’s humbling at home against Brentford.
- The 4-1 loss was one of the low points of Thomas Tuchel’s time in charge of the Blues, where various failings were exposed against their lowly local rivals.
- It was a game to forget for Mendy, who was defended by Tuchel after the match, while Ziyech was one of the West Londoners’ better performers during a tricky outing.
- The German coach will be expecting from a big response from all of his team when they face Real Madrid on Wednesday.
3. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
- The veteran forward returns to Champions League action after playing a major role in sending Cameroon through to the World Cup, opening the scoring in their playoff victory over Algeria.
- He’s reached the UCL final with Paris Saint-Germain—where they were defeated by Bayern Munich—and is aiming to win it with the Bavarian giants this time around.
- All of his appearances in the Bundesliga and UCL this season have been from the bench, although his goal against Dyanmo Kyiv in the group stage proves he can still make an impact at this level.
2. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Joel Matip, Naby Keita
- Finalists in 2018, champions in 2019, can Liverpool go the distance once again in the Champions League this season?
- Their African core—seasoned performers in this competition—will surely be key if they’re to conquer the continent, with Salah and Mane in particular having proved that they can decide matches at the very business end of European football.
- Salah, now 29, will surely be desperate to secure silverware at the season’s end in light of Egypt’s failure to win the Africa Cup of Nations or to qualify for the World Cup.
1. Riyad Mahrez
- The African player most likely to conquer the Champions League this season appears to be Mahrez, with the bookies having installed Manchester City as favourites for the big one.
- He’s reached the final before, when the Citizens were defeated by Chelsea last season, and can this finally be the year that Pep Guardiola and his side get the UCL hoodoo off their backs?
- With six goals in eight Champions League outings so far this season, Mahrez remains a key figure for City, and could be the main man as they look to finally win the biggest prize in the European game
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