UEFA Champions League 2013: Players Under Most Pressure in Quarterfinals

Christopher LeoneSenior Analyst IApril 3, 2013

MILAN, ITALY - MARCH 30:  Fabio Quagliarella of Juventus FC (L) and Walter Gargano of FC Inter Milan compete for the ball during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and Juventus FC at San Siro Stadium on March 30, 2013 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The pressure is on for the eight remaining teams in the UEFA Champions League, as the quarterfinal round begins with matches on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

For a handful of players, that pressure is more significant than others, as their play will likely be the determining factor in whether or not their teams will advance to the semifinals.

Juventus forward Fabio Quagliarella is firmly included in that group of players. After losing to Bayern Munich 2-0 on Tuesday, Juventus will need to put together a strong goal-scoring effort in the second leg of the quarterfinals; that means that, more likely than not, Quagliarella will need to spark the offense.

With four goals in five Champions League appearances and 12 goals in 25 total appearances this season, Quagliarella is the team's leading scorer. But Bayern shut him and the rest of the Juventus offense down in their first match, With key Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos injured, Juve's front line should have the chance to attack without fear of the important two-way player.

Paris Saint-Germain may not have suffered the same fate as Juventus on Tuesday, tying Barcelona at 2-2, but they'll have to play better than that to back up striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. After the tie, Ibrahimovic told reporters, "I am very confident of progressing. We have a great opportunity. It will not be easy but we will go there and play the game and we will see."

But "not easy" may be an understatement considering the team's play on Tuesday.

Even without having to face an injured Lionel Messi in the second half, PSG struggled; after Ibrahimovic tied the game in the 79th minute, Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez scored on a penalty kick in the 89th minute, forcing PSG to add another tying goal in stoppage time. The easiest way for them to advance next week is for Ibrahimovic to lead the charge by scoring once again.

Wednesday's match between Real Madrid and Galatasaray will be an intense battle of two teams trying to keep a pair of intense strikers off of the board. In Madrid's case, they'll have to keep Didier Drogba from scoring; for Galatasaray, the job is to limit the efficacy of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The last line of defense against Drogba will be Madrid keeper Diego Lopez. Not only will Lopez have to face off against Drogba, he'll also have to deal with the fact that he's playing instead of current captain and 2010 World Cup champion Iker Casillas, who has been feuding with coach Jose Mourinho. If Madrid falls, Mourinho will likely catch more heat, but the standard for Lopez, based on the caliber he is replacing, is very high.

For Galatasaray, midfielder Felipe Melo will lead the defensive stand against Ronaldo. Melo's job is to help clog the middle of the field for Madrid's offense, then to get the ball up to Drogba and Galatasaray's forwards to pressure Lopez and the Madrid defense throughout the game. His success or failure could be a huge determining factor in who wins or loses the series.

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