As the weaker sides are pushed out of this year’s Champions League, there are five Nigerian players who are still in the running to make it to the finals and get that coveted European title under their belts. Teams such as Chelsea, Bayern Munich and last year’s finalists Tottenham all have Nigerian players who may make the cut.
Why not support their teams in the Champions League by finding out their chances of progressing, watching the games live on TV, or getting a ticket to a game.
Dele Alli – Tottenham
At the forefront of Tottenham’s attacking midfield in recent years, Dele Alli is also one of the England national team’s most valued players. In this year’s Champions League, he’s played six games, scored once and assisted once. While in the Premier League, he’s played 20 games and scored seven goals. He also featured in last year’s Champions League final, in which they lost to an in-form Liverpool.
Joshua Zirkzee – Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich’s Joshua Zirkzee
Nigerian centre-forward Joshua Zirkzee, unfortunately, has been sidelined for most of this year’s Champions League, only making an appearance once as a substitute. However, the Dutch international has made grounds in the German league, in which he’s played 16 games, scored twice and made three assists. He’ll need to produce some magic to force Muller and Lewandowski out of their striker positions though. Only time will tell if he can help this year’s second favorite, Bayern Munich, win the Champions League.
Manuel Akanji – Borussia Dortmund
This centre-back has been at the heart of Borussia Dortmund’s defense during six games in this year’s Champions League. He’s been in the starting eleven 86% of the time. He’s also been a first-choice centre back in 21 Bundesliga games, no mean feat in this competitive team. A main highlight was keeping a clean sheet against Barcelona FC in the group stages, and Dortmund will want another great defensive performance to enable them to progress past PSG in the Round of 16.
Tammy Abraham – Chelsea
Chelsea are a force to be reckoned with and they will need to use all their talent to pass over Bayern Munich in the Round of 16. This centre-forward has a commendable two goals in six Champions League starts. He’s also assisted another goal. In the Premier League, he’s slotted an impressive 13 goals home and made four assists in 25 games. That’s a formidable record for the 22-year-old Nigerian.
Ademola Lookman – RB Leipzig
English-Nigerian Ademola Lookman has played one game in the Champions League this year. Due to not featuring much in Europe or in the Bundesliga, he hasn’t managed to net any goals this season. However, if RB Leipzig manages to progress against Tottenham, we could see him whizzing down the left-wing in coming games.
Bayern Munich in many bookies are second favourite to win the title of European kings this year, so we may yet see Joshua Zirkzee at least in the final. Odds-on favourites are Manchester City, after falling behind Liverpool by around 20 points in the Premier League, they’ll want to boost their credentials again in the European sphere.
Barcelona are still hungry for the crown though, and they’ll be wanting to change people’s view of them in Europe after the embarrassing defeat against Liverpool in last year’s semi-final. Then, of course, there are the defending champions, Liverpool. Running ahead in the Premier League in what they hope to be their first English league title in 30 years - will they be able to also defend their title in Europe, or will that be a step too far?
Whoever wins this year’s competition, our country has a great chance of being represented in the final stages, and one of our countrymen’s teams could even be crowned champions of Europe this year. Whatever the outcome, it’s an outstanding accomplishment to make it to this stage of probably the world’s most recognised football competitions, and be watched by people all around the world.
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