UCL Matchday 5: Five Africans key to the week's turning points
It’s matchday five of the 2018/19 champions league season and teams are closer to securing knockout stage qualification or getting eliminated than they were a few match-days ago. There are a number of Africans who have been grabbing headlines in Europe’s elite club competition we have been covering thus far, such as Moussa Marega, Kalidou Koulibaly, Andre Onana and more. Of special interest are the following five who are super critical to the fate of their clubs this champions league week.
Last season’s UCL finalists, Liverpool, find themselves in a precarious position in group C with only two matches left, of which one is this week’s trip to Parc de Princes. PSG are too proud to entertain the idea of missing out on a knockout stage qualification and even more so by losing home and away to Liverpool. The Reds will have to count on their Egyptian talisman or Senegal’s Sadio Mane to deliver the goods on a difficult away match if they are to stay alive in the champions league.
The top man in the Dutch Eredivisie who was also at the top of his game in Morocco’s 2-0 hammering of Cameroon in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers as he scored all the goals in that match will be called upon again on Tuesday. A win against winless AEK Athens will guarantee qualification and the 25-year-old playmaker has the magic wand to inspire that.
Manchester United’s surprising win in Turin meant that Valencia’s hopes of reaching the round of 16 got slimmer. The Spanish La Liga side will travel to Italy to face Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus who are yet to confirm their qualification and eager to put the United loss behind them. If Valencia is to stay alive, given that United welcome bottom of the group, Young Boys at Old Trafford, Central African Republic’s Geoffrey Kondogbia will be key in locking that midfield and establishing a base of hope for the Bats.
Tottenham are on a high after handing Chelsea their first defeat of the season on Saturday. Their slim champions league hopes rest on a must-win encounter against Inter Milan on Wednesday at Wembley. The 29-year-old Ghanaian, Kwadwo will be required to nullify the threat from the right wing that usually come in form of crosses by either Trippier or Ivorian, Serge Aurier. Such crosses have become the hallmark of Spurs’ game and Kwadwo will be required to be on the job throughout the 90.
Belgium’s Club Brugge are not down and out in the champions league. If they are to pull an upset in a group where Atletico Madrid and Dortmund are expected to progress, they have to get a result on Wednesday when they travel to Germany. Zimbabwe’s Marvelous Nakamba who has become the proper steel in Club Brugge’s central midfield will have to be called upon to work overtime on the day to stop the likes of Jadon Sancho, Paco Alcacer, Mario Gotze and Marco Reus.
Who do you have? We got the week’s big five listed above. It’s going to be lit.