Drogba, Iniesta and the 5 Players to Watch This Week in the Champions League
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With the knockout stage of this season's UEFA Champions League underway, we await yet another week of tantalising football from Europe's best.
Two titanic battles await as runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal and AC Milan play host to popular favourites Barcelona.
Porto will also play this season's surprise package Malaga, while Didier Drogba is set to return to the Champions League for Galatasaray, who host Schalke.
While last week saw the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Claudio Marchisio and Javier Pastore deliver, goalkeepers stole the show in the main event as David De Gea and Diego Lopez starred in a 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Let's take a look at the top five players to watch in this week's games.
Jack Wilshere is key to Arsenal's hopes against Bayern.
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The highly rated, albeit injury-plagued, young English midfielder has been superb upon returning to the fold at Arsenal.
His assured presence at the heart of the Gunners' midfield belies his age, and an inspired performance against Montpellier ensured progression to the Champions League knockout stages.
The Bundesliga giants travel with stellar options in the centre of the park themselves, with the likes of Schweinsteiger, Kroos and Javi Martinez in fine form.
The midfield battle is likely to decide this battle and Wilshere and co. must deliver if Arsenal are to come away with a good result.
Look out for his superb balance, his calm under pressure and the awareness of time and space which saw him impress in a similar fixture against Barcelona's midfield maestros just two years ago.
The Colombian has caught the eye of many with his super play.
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The exciting Porto winger made a timely return from injury last Friday night and will be itching to get back to the competition he has so impressed in.
His exciting attacking play has interested Manchester United and naturally led to comparisons with Portuguese stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani.
James has created a deadly combination this year with compatriot Jackson Martinez. The duo have combined for 27 league goals in just 29 combined starting appearances.
With Nacho Monreal having moved to Arsenal, Malaga will have to rely on new signing Vitorino Antunes to fill the void at left back. The on-loan Portuguese could be in for a long night.
Andres Iniesta was in sublime form in Barca's 6-1 victory over Getafe.
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While Gareth Bale is on fire in England, Cristiano Ronaldo is in "career-best form" and Leo Messi is just being Messi as usual, it is Andres Iniesta who is the world's most in-form player at this moment.
It is a big call, and after making it he could indeed do nothing against AC Milan (or worse, get injured). It is, however, unlikely.
Against Getafe a week ago, Barca's magestic midfielder put in a near-perfect performance, with a goal and an assist to boot.
He will be fresh for the Milan clash having been wisely rested by stand-in manager Jordi Roura.
While Messi is the one the history books will most keenly remember, enjoy this guy while you can. You may never see another player glide about the pitch like him again.
The Frenchman has been in fine form in Europe this term.
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On Wednesday night, Phillipe Mexes will get the unenviable job of marking Lionel Messi.
It is hard to say that any defenders have outplayed Messi over the years, but there are a few who have walked away with their dignity intact.
Two particular performers come to mind.
Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny boldly came of his line time and time again to take the game to the Argentine just a couple of years ago, earning plenty of plaudits for his superbly timed challenges.
Similarly, Pepe has at times hounded Messi in Clasicos with mixed success.
Mexes, like Koscielny and Pepe, is a proactive defender and has the tools to somewhat stifle the Ballon D'Or winner's spark.
Keep an eye on the duel early. It is vital that the Frenchman settles the nerves with a few good challenges.
Drogba playing for Cote D'Ivoire at the AFCON.
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Galatasaray-Schalke might have been a game politely ignored by many football fans if it were not for two late January acquisitions by the Turkish giants.
In Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba, Galatasaray have two players who have done it all before. Sneijder a champion of Europe in 2010 and Drogba just last season.
Europe undoubtedly waits with bated breath to see how the two combine.
The Ivorian is yet to even start a match for the Istanbul-based outfit and in Benedikt Howedes he has a formidable and physical opponent.
Can the Drog conjure up some of the old magic?
Which matches are you looking forward to and who will you be watching?
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