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UEFA Europa League 2013: Struggling Stars Who Will Thrive in Round of 32

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge on February 9, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Jeffrey SakakibaraContributor IIFebruary 14, 2013

With the UEFA Europa League coming down to its final 32 teams, each soccer club needs its respective stars to perform at their highest levels. However, some players have struggled recently and have given much worry to their club and its fans.

Every team as a whole has performed well enough to get to this point, but once in the round of 32 every player will have to perform to a level they are expected to.

Here is a look at three players whose performance needs to match their paycheck.

Fernando Torres

After being transferred to Chelsea, Torres leads the team in goal strikes and goals made. However, Torres seems unable to actually score in a consistent manner, and his deterioration is becoming increasingly obvious in this year’s UEFA league.

Torres still has the aggressive spirit of a striker, but doesn’t have the accuracy or speed in his shots to constantly score goals.

Sparta Prague's Vaclav Kadlec will surely perform like the offensive weapon he is, and someone from Chelsea will have to counter all that offense in the upcoming match.

With Demba Ba unable to play, it will be all up to Torres to have an offensive show of his own to keep Chelsea in the hunt.

Lisandro Lopez

Since Coach Remi Garde’s public bashing of his players’ effort levels four days ago, all eyes have been on Lyon to see if Garde’s speech is going to make a difference in their play.

 

Lisandro Lopez recently returned from a calf injury and, amidst transfer rumors, is going to stick with Lyon. Criticism about his value has directly affected his play and he’ll look to dispel all the naysayers with a solid performance against Tottenham.

A player with a chip on his shoulder is always dangerous, and when ridiculed about his performance, a true star will play with a different motivation.

With both the urgency of a win for Lyon and personal motivations, Lopez will have to thrive in the upcoming game.

Yuto Nagatomo

Nagatomo has recently been tied to rumors with Real Madrid and even a potential offer by Manchester United. Nagatomo has shown obvious interest in both teams, and Inter Milan will have a hard time keeping its defender.

But to keep his own stock high for various teams, Nagatomo will have to show an aggressive aspect of his game. Usually knows for his persistent defense, Nagatomo will have to set up more through-passes and possibly score a goal of his own to keep Inter in the race.

The usual strikers for Inter are struggling to find the back of the net and Nagatomo will look to break away from his defensive playmaking and set up plays for the offense. 

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