Champions League: 10 Players to Watch in Next Week's Playoff Rounds

Ned HarwoodContributor IIIAugust 25, 2012

Champions League: 10 Players to Watch in Next Week's Playoff Rounds

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    We are halfway through the playoff round of the 2012-13 Champions League and there is obviously a lot to talk about. In the first legs we saw big upsets, world class goals, and of course, plenty of players rising to the occasion on the big stage.

    This week will surely have much of the same as more footballers try to push their teams to the group stage of the world's biggest club tournament. Here are ten key players to watch in next week's UCL matches. Enjoy!

Lucas Biglia- Anderlecht

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    The Anderlecht central midfielder deserves your attention as he has been frequently linked with a move to Arsenal all summer long. With Alex Song recently departing for Barcelona, Biglia is very much in contention to be his replacement at the Emirates this season.

    However, while many have seen other Arsenal CDM targets M’Vila, Tiote, and Capoue play before, few Gunner fans have likely seen Biglia live. If you are an Arsenal fan and would like to finally see him for yourself or a neutral fan and enjoy watching a solid player in the middle, tune into Anderlecht's game on Tuesday. 

Aiden McGeady- Spartak Moscow

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    Although the Irish winger has been in the spotlight for a while now, he still has yet to come to the Premier League despite significant interest. Many thought a strong Euro 2012 would be enough for a top English club to take the chance on him considering he is only 26.

    However, McGeady failed to impress as his Irish side was thoroughly dominated in each of their group stage matches. There is still a high possibility that McGeady will make it to England someday, whether you think he deserves a shot now can be determined by sitting down and watching him play this week. 

Andriy Yarmolenko- Dynamo Kyiv

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    You may have seen a bit of the Ukrainian wunderkind at Euro 2012, but if you missed his tournament appearances you can always watch Dynamo Kyiv take on Borussia Mönchengladbach this week.

    The big forward/winger can play all over the front line and has already scored 42 total goals for Kyiv before his 23rd birthday.

    Last week he netted the game winner for Dynamo Kyiv against Mönchengladbach and he will look to continue his European tournament success in front of his home fans on Wednesday.

Modou Sougou- CFR Cluj

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    This name might not have meant anything to you just a few weeks ago, but after netting a brace against Basel on the road last Tuesday, he deserves your attention. The Senegalese winger put forth a sensational performance against the club that knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League last year.

    Although he is on the older side at 27, many of his Senegalese teammates, including Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse have also been late bloomers and earned themselves a look at bigger clubs after a strong season.

    This just might be that kind of year for Sougou so make sure you are one of the first of your friends to know his name. 

Dimitri Payet- Lille

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    If the name sounds familiar it is probably because of a rumor two years ago that Chelsea were after the French winger only for him to reject the offer.

    Payet did well last season to fill the void left by Gervinho and now looks to completely take over the offense with former Lille winger Eden Hazard off to Chelsea. If Payet can rise to the occasion this year, it shouldn’t be long until he follows his former teammate to the Premier League in a big transfer. 

Luuk De Jong- Borussia Mönchengladbach

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    Even though the Dutchman had a horror debut for Mönchengladbach with his own goal last week, he should get plenty of opportunities to make up for it next week in the second leg.

    On the road and down two goals, Mönchengladbach surely will be playing a very attacking style, which means De Jong will get his chances to score his first for the club.

    When in form, De Jong can be a very exciting player to watch, and he deserves 90 minutes of your time this week against Dynamo Kyiv. 

Isco- Malaga

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    The Malaga playmaker is considered by many to be the future No. 10 of the Spanish national team. Last season he scored five goals and helped Malaga qualify for the Champions League.

    With Santi Cazorla now out of the lineup, Isco is now the main creative force that Malaga are going to have to rely on in a very competitive Spanish league. Isco is a player to watch now because he is surely a star of the future. 

Pablo Armero- Udinese

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    The Udinese wingback has been linked with a number of top European clubs around the world. Napoli was apparently talking to the Colombian earlier in the summer, but since then nothing has developed.

    Armero played fairly well against Arsenal in this stage of the competition last year, but the team lost in the series, cutting his Champions League season short. If Armero can perform yet again on the big stage, he will be destined for a move to a bigger club in one of the upcoming transfer windows. 

Zhano Ananidze- Spartak Moscow

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    While the Georgian wonderkid did not come off the bench in the first leg, make sure you keep your eye out for this future star at Spartak Moscow.

    He made his international and professional debut at the age of 17 and has been labeled time and time again as a player with enormous potential. Russian games are rarely on television so if you want to see this kid play before he emerges as a superstar, I suggest you tune in on Wednesday. 

Milos Krasic- Fenerbahce

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    Remember this guy? Krasic was one of the highest rated youngsters in the world just a few years ago and has since seemingly become irrelevant to many football fans.

    His downfall came as Juventus started to rise back into an Italian powerhouse and created a system that didn’t really use Krasic’s abilities.

    Now the Serbian international is on Fenerbahce trying to get back in form and regain confidence before the 2014 World Cup comes around. Can Krasic get back to playing beautiful football once again? Watch and find out.