Forget Van Persie: Keep Your Eye on These UCL Under-the-Radar Forwards

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterSeptember 5, 2013

Forget Van Persie: Keep Your Eye on These UCL Under-the-Radar Forwards

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    With the UEFA Champions League group stages drawn, the anticipation begins. Mouth-watering ties await, and in preparation for the action, we've drawn up a list of six forwards well worth taking in.

    You don't need to be told about Edinson Cavani, Robin van Persie and Robert Lewandowski—they're established world-class stars—but instead who's currently flying under the radar.

    Enjoy the slideshow!

Stefan Kiessling, Bayer Leverkusen

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    Stefan Kiessling has been one of the most consistent goalscorers in European football for the past six years, but he rarely gets the worldwide recognition he deserves

    He is now truly hitting his prime, and with Sami Hyypia building a fantastic team around him, he's set to score a shedload in the UEFA Champions League this season.

    He's developed his game, going from pure poacher to the more complete forward ruling the Continent these days, while he also has lethal weapons in Heung-Min Son and Sidney Sam to each side. 

Carlos Vela, Real Sociedad

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    Carlos Vela is fast becoming one of the finest forwards in world football, and doing the business on the European stage this season could elevate him to his rightful status in the game.

    Arsenal simply couldn't get him settled for a multitude of reasons, and la Real's gamble on a player whose promising career looked to have been severely stunted has paid off.

    He's got almost every tool a rapid forward needs, can dribble past three in a row, place or hammer shots and take up great positions in the box.

    People are aware of his exponential progress, but do they see him as a threat? Not yet, and he's going to prove them wrong. 

Haris Seferovic, Real Sociedad

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    Real Sociedad have not one, but two under-the-radar forwards that have the potential to break out.

    Carlos Vela is the more refined, established name, while Haris Seferovic joined the ranks of la Real this summer to very muted, reserved applause.

    After starring in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, shining brighter than Isco, Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Mario Goetze, his career plummeted under the heavy pressure of hype.

    He's started very well with the Txuri-urdin, and Jagoba Arrasate will hope he has a very deadly duo on his hands. 

Bernard, Shakhtar Donetsk

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    As Andy Brassell excellently explains, Shakhtar Donetsk are no longer the rabid threat of season's past. Fernandinho, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Willian have gone, leaving the the Hirnyky signifcantly weaker in midfield.

    Reinforcements have arrived in Bernard, Fred and Fernando, and while they're not quite settled in Ukraine as yet, expect them to announce themselves on the European stage.

    Bernard, in particular, who has all but dropped off the map since signing for Mircea Lucescu's side, can go a long way to restoring Shakhtar's dominance.

    He was all the rage when supposedly on the cusp of signing for Arsenal, but his name has barely been uttered since. Expect a forceful reminder of his talents. 

Jose Callejon, Napoli

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    Jose Callejon joined Napoli this summer for €10 million, and many were concerned he'd proven very little in his career so far.

    Used exclusively as a depth and backup player at Real Madrid by Jose Mourinho, he was never given the run of games required to show everyone what he's got.

    Rafa Benitez, though, has obliged—and, after setting him loose at the San Paolo, looks set to be rewarded for his gamble with some brilliant, energetic, dynamic performances.

    The entire Partenopei squad has settled rather well after a mini-overhaul in the offseason, and Callejon is among the finest of the new recruits.

Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid

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    We end on a relative big-hitter, but you'd be surprised about the amount of people who suggest Atletico Madrid simply haven't replaced Radamel Falcao.

    They say this because they haven't seen a large sum of money deposited into another club's bank account, and while David Villa grabbed the headlines with his move, the ever-improving Diego Costa is the main man in this attack.

    He's started the domestic season on fire, turning in fearsome, committed and clinical performances. He can bully defenders with strength or pace, and we may just be looking at the next complete forward to emerge at Atleti.