The Most Struggling Starter on Every Remaining Champions League Side

Peter Brownell@pbnoregard11Contributor IMarch 27, 2013

The Most Struggling Starter on Every Remaining Champions League Side

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    There are many players currently having great campaigns for their clubs in both Champions League and in domestic play.

    Clearly, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two perfect examples. 

    Then there are players who have not been as excellent as of late. 

    It is difficult to be too critical of these teams, as there has been success in terms of overall wins against losses for the remaining eight.  Simply put, mostly wins and very few losses. 

    It should make for some appetizing football.

    Every player will have a poor performance on occasion.  Some more than others, of course.  Timing is everything, so for the players mentioned in this list, hopefully they can step their game up as the most important moments of the season await. 

    The following list looks at how the teams have done in their last six games or in the Champions League.  It picks out one poor performer for each side and explains why he was chosen.


    Note: All data comes from Who Scored.

Carlos Puyol (Barcelona)

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    It is definitely a tough argument to suggest that any Barcelona player is struggling currently considering they have won their last two matches by a considerable margin. 

    Looking at the their last five performances, though, and the two losses to Real Madrid must be discussed here.

    Puyol struggled to match the pace and quick ball movement of Madrid in his side's loss in the Copa Del Rey.  It was a poor showing in terms of one-on-one defending for the normally exquisite Spanish defender.

    He will have to get back to his consistently strong work in order for Barcelona to advance to the next round against PSG.

Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)

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    It was nearly time to panic for Bayen Munich during their last Champions League match against Arsenal.

    The team was flat to start, unable to comfortably put the game away with a goal and seemed out of sorts in terms of the crisp passing they are usually capable of.

    Robben did not add much in terms of distribution in this match.  His 71 percent passing accuracy was second lowest of any field player for Bayern.  And his usually dynamic dribbling abilities were snuffed out for the most part: only one successful dribble and twice dispossessed. 

    Bayern Munich will require better quality from the Dutchman against Juventus.

Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)

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    Only one loss in the last six for German giants Borussia Dortmund. 

    In Dortmund's 2-1 defeat to Schalke, Mats Hummels struggled to find his game.

    Both of the goals were conceded when Hummels was stationed in the center of the defense in the first half.  His positioning was slightly less impressive than usual.  Three tackles, one interception and two clearances: not the abundant amount of defensive work needed from him.

    Perfect defending will be critical against Malgala.  

Sami Khedira (Real Madrid)

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    Real Madrid has won six of its last six matches, including two wins over Barcelona and a Champions League victory over Manchester United.  Not a bad few weeks from Los Blancos.

    Very difficult to note a player not performing at an extremely high level for such a hot team. 

    In perhaps their most contested match of the last six against Celta Vigo, Sami Khedira was not as sharp on the ball as Jose Mourinho might wish him to be.  His passing accuracy rate, 73 percent, was the lowest of any outfield player for Madrid on the day.  He was subbed off after 45 minutes for his efforts.

    This is a performance he will want to forget against Galatasaray.

Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain)

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    The last time Paris Saint-Germain lost was to Reims, 1-0.  It was not a productive game for Javier Pastore.

    Stationed right in the middle of the midfield circle, mostly, Pastore's passing accuracy was the second lowest of any other player on PSG, 64 percent.  He had no shots of his own nor did any of his passes lead directly to shots for teammates.

    He was subbed off in the second half. 

    He will need to do better in not giving the ball away against a Barcelona team ready to pounce on free balls in the final third.   

Alessandro Matri (Juventus)

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    Juventus last lost points against Roma in a match that Alessandro Matri will surely long to forget.

    Not much to report regarding Matri's offensive production on the day.  His two total shots (one on target) surely is not considered enough of an effort for a club with such high aspirations. 

    He did not create too much, either: Only one pass leading directly to a shot for a teammate. 

    Goals might be hard to come by against a dominating Bayern Munich side.  A stronger performance is needed from Matri.

Umut Bulut (Galatasaray )

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    Looking just at the Champions League here, Umut Bulut needs to contribute more than just one goal in four appearances for Galatasaray. 

    Nearly all of Galatasaray's goals have come from one player, Burak Yilmaz, whose 8 goals trumps his closest teammate's total by seven goals. 

    Bulut has played the most minutes of every other striker on his team in the Champions League.  He has been averaging 2.3 shots per game in these four matches. 

    It may get to the point quite soon that someone beside Yilmaz needs to look to score.  Bulut's services will be needed in front of goal against Real Madrid. 

Jaiver Saviola (Malaga)

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    Malaga's worst loss in their last six games came at the hands of Betis, 3-0.  There was not much to speak of in terms of striker production from Jaiver Saviola during the game. 

    No shots, no passes directly leading to shots for teammates and only 26 touches total.  His passing accuracy was one of the lower figures on the day for Malaga.  No successful dribbles, either for the Argentinian. 

    He was subbed off after 66 minutes of non-impactful play.

    Saviola needs to find the game more frequently against Borussia Dortmund.