UEFA Champions League: Underrated Stars Who Will Shine in Quarterfinals
The UEFA Champions League moves through to the quarterfinal stage this week with eight teams still in the running for football's most prestigious prize.
The matchups have been set for the quarterfinals, and teams will no doubt be looking to their star players to get them through to the semifinals.
However, it'll be the players who aren't necessarily the big-name stars who will have the biggest impact this week and could be the key players in the results that follow.
Read on to see several underrated stars who'll shine in the quarterfinals.
Jordi Alba, Barcelona
The Spanish defender will have a key role to play in both attack and defense for Barcelona here as they look to gain an advantage over PSG in the first leg.
Alba's pace and ability to get down the left wing and overlap with the left midfielder will be key for La Blaugrana as they look to press home their possession dominance against PSG, who defend relatively well through the middle of the pitch.
Christophe Jallet will be a good matchup for Alba, with the French defender known to attack strongly as well—making for a very interesting duel out wide.
However, Alba's most significant impact will come against Lucas Moura, whom the home side will look to utilize down the right flank in attack.
Moura is an excellent runner with the ball and is more than capable of hurting Barca if he can find space in behind Alba on the left wing. The defender must be certain of his positioning in this one and not allow the Brazilian international to get in behind him.
If he can hold himself well in defense and contribute per usual in attack, Alba will have a profound impact on Barcelona's chances of success here.
Roque Santa Cruz, Malaga
Borussia Dortmund are the favorites to triumph over Malaga in their Champions League quarterfinal, but the reality is that Malaga are a very strong team at home.
And as such, they'll be looking to attack well against the German champions here—desperate to gain an advantage before they make the difficult journey back to Dortmund for the second leg.
Malaga might line up Roque Santa Cruz in the starting lineup or they may play him off the bench, but either way, expect him to be a key player here for the home side. Santa Cruz is a big threat with the ball at his feet, and his longevity in the top class shows just how talented he can be.
Santa Cruz is a strong finisher (as seen against Porto) who doesn't need many opportunities to leave his mark on the game. And with the creative mastermind of Isco behind him, the striker should see a goal-scoring chance or two fall his way in this one.
If that happens, look for Santa Cruz to have a big impact for Malaga here and perhaps even net a crucial goal that they can take with them to Dortmund.
Kwadwo Asamoah, Juventus
Few wing-backs have the dominance that Kwadwo Asamoah has had for Juventus this season, and the Ghanaian international will no doubt be a key player once more for the Old Lady's defense.
With Juve very strong through the middle of the field with Andrea Pirlo running the show, Bayern Munich's biggest attacking threat will be that of their wing play—particularly out on the right flank, where they'll look to star winger Thomas Muller.
Muller is a creative winger who is capable of finishing any chance afforded to him, and thus Asamoah will have an important role to play in shutting him down.
Asamoah averages a strong 2.4 tackles per game, and Juve will need those skills to come the fore again here to handle the dominance out wide from Bayern.
If they can shut down the wings, Juventus could well have the defensive strength needed to handle the German powerhouse and their attacking strengths.
Look for Asamoah to play a key part in that.
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