The curtain will come down on matchday five of the Champions League this evening. Desh Parthab highlights five players who could turn it on this evening including Harvey Elliot and Lucas Moura.
There was drama aplenty in matchday four with two players etching their names into the Champions League record books.
Club Brugge confirmed their spot in the knockout stages of the UCL – recording four clean sheets in their opening 4 group stage fixtures. Ex-Liverpool shot-stopper Simon Mignolet made 14 saves against Atletico Madrid home and away, and in doing so, broke the record for the most saves against an opponent without being beaten in a single Champions League campaign (2003/04 onwards).
Current Liverpool hitman Mo Salah bagged a hat-trick last time out, with just 6min 12sec between his first and third goal, this is the quickest hat-trick in the history of the competition.
Following their 4-2 win over Ajax on MD4, Napoli have registered 17 tournament goals this season, scoring 4.25 goals per game – a competition high. Napoli host a Rangers team who were hit for seven last time out and I fear for the Scottish outfit’s goal difference after tonight.
Xabi Alonso became the seventh different Bayern Leverkusen manager to lose their first UCL match in charge of Die Werkself. Mathematically, Alonso’s side can’t qualify for the knockout stages but can still sneak into the Europa League if results go their way.
Let’s take a look at five players who could steal the headlines tonight!
Carrasco to be the difference-maker for Atleti?
With Club Brugge having secured qualification from Group B, it’s all to play for when Atletico host Bayern Leverkusen at the Wanda Metropolitano. Yannick Carrasco is my pick of the lot to provide an attacking return this evening. The Belgian forward is one of only two Atleti players to have created 10+ chances and attempted 10+ shots in LaLiga, and I suspect a night to remember in the Spanish capital looms.
Moura’s time to shine?
Tottenham have slumped to back-to-back defeats in the Premier League and a strong reaction can be expected when they host Sporting this evening. With an injury-hit squad, Lucas Moura could make his first competition start this evening. The Spurs man etched himself into their history when he netted a second-half hat-trick (the third goal coming in the sixth minute of extra time) to send them through to their first-ever Champions League final. Aside from his performance on that magical evening, the Brazilian hasn’t really impressed in hist time in North London. Perhaps he’ll get the chance to shine again tonight?
Raspadori thriving at Napoli
Giacomo Raspadori has netted four goals from just four shots on target in the Champions League this season. The Italian marksman plies his trade for Napoli who are yet to lose in either the Serie A or the Champions League. The former Sassuolo man bagged 10 goals and helped himself to five assists in the Serie A last season, which was enough to make the Gli Azzurri swoop. Raspadori & Co come up against a Rangers team who are out of Europe irrespective of this evening’s results.
Taremi to help Porto secure qualification to last 16?
Mehdi Taremi has returned two goals and two assists across his three Champions League outings this season. The FC Porto dangerman seems to repeatedly come up with the goods. Of all Champions League clubs that have scored five or more goals ahead of this round of fixtures, no player has recorded a higher ratio (67%) of goal involvements (goals and assists) to team goals (4/6) than Taremi. In domestic action, the Iran international has netted five times across his 10 appearances in Liga Portugal, hitting the woodwork twice. The forward has attempted nine shots during his previous three appearances across all competitions so keep an eye out for him. He also scooped the goal of the tournament last season. Check it out below:
Elliot thriving on the big stage
Harvey Elliott has attempted just seven shots in the Champions League this season, with five of those coming last time out. The midfielder opened his account on his fourth tournament appearance and may follow up against an Ajax team who have shipped 12 goals this season already, only Viktoria Plzen and Rangers (16) have conceded more from all participating clubs this season ahead of this round of fixtures. The Reds could confirm their spot in the knockout stages with victory tonight, something Klopp will want to achieve considering they face red-hot Napoli on matchday six.