While we await an exciting quarter-final line-up in the Champions League, it’s a good time to evaluate the stand-out performers in this year’s competition to date.
A flurry of goals, some high-class football, a few historic comebacks and much more has been on offer. But some players have shone more than others and have led the charge for their respective teams.
Here, we take a look at the top six players who have excelled in the Champions League season so far.
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LIONEL MESSI (BARCELONA)
Imagine Champions League without Lionel Messi, and its almost like an ocean without current. The Barcelona superstar is the top goalscorer so far with 11 goals and there are surely more to come as Barca look to progress further in the competition.
Juventus will have a tough task on their hands when they meet the Argentine in the quarters.
ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI (BAYERN MUNICH)
A lot of the credit for Bayern’s ruthless goal-scoring habit must go to Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker is a top finisher, accurate with headers and clinical with his right foot.
Lewandowski scored a splendid header against Arsenal in the first leg and a perfectly struck penalty in the second leg. He now has seven goals and an assist in the Champions League this season.
Against Real Madrid, Lewandowski will have to bring his A-game if Carlo Ancelotti’s men are to secure a place in the last four.
SERGIO RAMOS (REAL MADRID)
The fact that Ramos features in this list dominated by forwards explains how instrumental he has been for Real Madrid this season.
Ramos’ headers are now starting to become a worrying factor for teams in Europe and even Napoli succumbed to defeat, thanks to his two vital goals. The Spaniard has stepped up brilliantly at times when Cristiano Ronaldo and co. have struggled to fire.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (BORUSSIA DORTMUND)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hat-trick against Benfica to seal a quarter-final spot for Borussia Dortmund.
Aubameyang has been instrumental this European campaign, scoring seven goals and providing one assist.
It would be surprising if the 27-year-old doesn’t have his name on the score-sheet at the end of the tie against Monaco.
While Neymar might be leading in terms of most number of assists provided by a player in the Champions League this season, two of his four goals scored came at a time when all seemed over for Barcelona.
One curling free-kick and a well-taken penalty, followed by a sensational ball-in from his weak foot to tee up Sergi Roberto for the all-important goal against PSG, saw Neymar produce one of his best performances for Barcelona.
His dribbles, runs, individual skills have been excellent. Add to that the number of fouls he wins for his team and Neymar is sure to make Juventus pay if they take him lightly.
RIYAD MAHREZ (LEICESTER CITY)
Riyad Mahrez hasn’t enjoyed the same success as last term, but nevertheless the Algerian’s presence on the pitch has been invaluable for Leicester City in their fairytale run to the last eight.
Remember it was Mahrez’ free-kick against Sevilla in the second leg that was met by the head of Wes Morgan for the decisive first goal.
The 26-year-old has four goals and two assists in the competition, and proved central to the Foxes exploits in the group stages.