Soccer Champions League

25 Players You Must Watch During 2014 UEFA Champions League Round of 16

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25 Players To Watch In UCL Round Of 16

Image courtesy of the Champions League Official Facebook Page

After the UEFA Champions League group stage ended near the end of last year, the Round of 16 clashes were announced, but the fans had to wait until February to see the best squads in Europe taking over the pitch again.

The waiting is finally over, and we are only two weeks away from the return of the Champions League as the 16 best squads in the tournament are ready to continue their quest towards the final that will be played at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica in Portugal.

With the tournament coming back to life, there are plenty of players that are worth keeping an eye on as they will try to lead their teams to the next round. The Round of 16 will feature some exciting matches all over Europe, but there are a few that are head and shoulders above the rest. Two of the best offenses will clash when FC Barcelona plays against Manchester City, current champion Bayern Munich will go against Arsenal in a rematch of last season’s Round of 16 tie, and last year’s runner-ups Borussia Dortmund will battle with Zenit for a place in the quarterfinals.

Teams like Real Madrid, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain will also feature in this upcoming round, so there are many talented players waiting to showcase their skills in the biggest European tournament.

Eager to see who they are? Read on to check out 25 players that are worth watching in the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.

Juan Pablo Aravena is a sports writer for Follow him on Twitter @jparavenarant or add him to your network on Google

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25. Lionel Messi - FC Barcelona

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If Messi can perform at the level that he has been at for the past five years, Barcelona has a great chance of coming away with a ticket to the next round.

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24. Alexis Sanchez - FC Barcelona

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Sanchezl has already scored 15 goals this campaign and will look to add to his impressive tally in the tie against the Citizens.

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23. Xavi - FC Barcelona

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If Xavi can make things happen, Los Blaugranas will be in control of the tie, but it remains to be seen if the Citizens will give him enough space to operate.

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22. Sergio Aguero - Manchester City

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Aguero used to score for fun against Los Blaugranas when he played for Atletico Madrid, and he will look to do it again while leading the Citizens' attacking line.

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21. Yaya Toure - Manchester City

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Toure is as complete as it gets, and a great deal of Manchester City’s chances against Los Cules will go through his feet.

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20. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - PSG

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The Swedish star is always controversial, but it can’t be denied that he also speaks on the pitch. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will look to lead PSG past a relatively easy Round of 16 contest against Bayer Leverkusen as the team’s focus is to get to the final and win it.

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19. Mario Balotelli - AC Milan

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The Italian striker is the heart and soul of AC Milan’s rebuilding effort and with not many players capable of leading the side, he will be expected to lead them against a surprisingly competitive Atletico Madrid team.

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18. Diego Costa - Atletico Madrid

Image Courtesy Of Diego Costa's Official Facebook Page

Diego Costa has been the spark Atletico Madrid needed to replace Radamel Falcao. The Brazil native is getting used to being tightly marked and he’s answering with goals, something he’ll need to keep doing if his team wants to advance to the next round.

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17. Thibaut Courtois - Atletico Madrid

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With a lot of uncertainty surrounding Courtois' future, he will have to perform to convince Los Colchoneros' management to make another bid so he can stay with the team permanently.

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16. Mesut Ozil - Arsenal

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While he has cooled off in recent weeks, Ozil is still the most important piece of his team at the European level. He will look to show it against Bayern Munich.

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15. Olivier Giroud - Arsenal

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Arsenal won’t have many chances against Bayern, so they will need to be effective every time they are near the box. That means Olivier Giroud will need to be at his best offensively. If the French towering striker can create some damage, Arsenal’s chances will only grow with time.

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14. Franck Ribery - Bayern Munich

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The French winger is Bayern Munich’s most decisive player, and the squad will need him in a tough tie against Arsenal..

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13. Arjen Robben - Bayern Munich

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Arjen Robben has been heavily criticized due to his inability to step up in big games. In order for Bayern to advance, Robben will have to be decisive against a tough Arsenal defense.

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12. Wayne Rooney - Manchester United

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Rooney has enough talent to make things happen on any given minute, and his play will be key for Manchester United if The Red Devils want to keep themselves in the competition.

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11. Tom Cleverley - Manchester United

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Cleverley has been heavily criticized for his sloppy play this season, and all eyes will be watching him to see if he can carry the team on his back against Olympiakos.

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10. Robert Lewandowski - Dortmund

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The Poland striker is living his final months with Borussia Dortmund after finalizing a move to Bayern Munich, but that doesn’t mean he is not the best player on the team. He is deadly inside the box and will look to lead his team as far as possible in the competition.

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9. Hulk - Zenit

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Hulk is by far the most decisive player on Zenit. His international experience will be key when playing against Borussia Dortmund, and there’s no doubt that he will be a player to watch in the Round of 16.

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8. Fernando Torres - Chelsea

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If Torres doesn’t live up to the standard he’s expected to achieve, it could mean the beginning of the end of his tenure at Chelsea.

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7. Eden Hazard - Chelsea

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‘The Belgian Wizard’ is Chelsea’s most decisive player right now. All the creativity and the offensive movements go through his feet, and there’s little doubt that Chelsea will only go as far as Eden Hazard can take them in the tournament.

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6. Didier Drogba - Galatasaray

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Didier Drogba was one of the key players in Galatasaray’s epic run in the Group Stage where they eliminated Juventus, and he will need to be at his best to do some sort of damage against Chelsea.

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5. Wesley Sneijder - Galatasaray

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Wesley Sneijder has been a huge spark for the Turkish outfit, and the fans will look for him to lead the team against Jose Mourinho and Chelsea.

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4. Julian Draxler - Schalke 04

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Draxler will be called upon to lead his side against Real Madrid and while he is still very young, he has the talent and the experience to create havoc in Los Merengues’ defensive line.

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3. Cristiano Ronaldo - Real Madrid

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Cristiano Ronaldo is one of those players that the whole world usually watches, and it will be no different as he’s expected to lead Real Madrid to their 10th UEFA Champions League title.

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2. Gareth Bale - Real Madrid

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Since his skill set matches up well with the ones of the Schalke 04 defenders, there’s a lot of high expectations as to what Gareth Bale can do upfront when paired with Ronaldo.

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1. Iker Casillas - Real Madrid

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Casillas spent more than 600 minutes without conceding a goal earlier this season, and his form will surely be a hot topic as the tournament goes on.