15 Players Who Will Disappoint During 2014 UEFA Champions League Round of 16
15 Players To Disappoint UCL's Round Of 16
The UEFA Champions League is set to return in a few more weeks with the Round of 16, and with some of the best teams in the world featuring in a thrilling knockout stage, there is plenty to be analyzed before the ball starts moving all over Europe.
With teams like Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Manchester United, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona set to start their campaign in order to take home the most important club trophy in the world, most teams will have to rely on their star players to keep progressing in the competition. However, several will fail to live up to the hype and could end up being a huge disappointment once it’s all said and done.
All the teams that are involved in this stage have players they can rely on when it's crunch time, but there are also several elements that are poised to crumble under the pressure. Whether it’s because they haven’t played enough, because they lost their starting place in the lineup or simply because the matchup isn’t favorable, players who are recognized as starters could be in line for being a major deception on this knockout stage.
It remains to be seen what will happen, as sometimes all it takes is one play to turn things around, but these 15 players mentioned in this slideshow could end up being detrimental to the progress of their squad.
Without further ado, read on to find out who will disappoint in the upcoming Champions League round as some of these names are big-time players that are regarded as world-class elements.
15. Joe Hart - Manchester City
The Manchester City goalkeeper has been playing much better as of late, but he will struggle heavily against the top class attack of FC Barcelona. He would be key to prevent a high-scoring game against The Citizens and he won’t be able to rise up to the occasion.
14. Pedro Rodriguez - FC Barcelona
The Spain international doesn’t have a starting spot secured, even with Neymar sidelined, and he will get struggle to get his rhythm going against a tough defensive line like the one Manchester City possesses.
13. Mesut Özil - Arsenal
The German playmaker has provided a huge spark in Arsenal’s creative midfield, but he won’t be able to do it against Bayern Munich.
The current UEFA Champions League’ winners have Mesut Özil’s number taken since he will be marked by the likes of Toni Kroos, Bastian Schwensteinger – both of them are teammates in the National Team – and Javi Martinez – who has faced him several times in La Liga – so he will fail to make much of an impact with The Gunners.
12. Mario Mandzukic - Bayern Munich
The Croatian striker will have to battle on his own against Arsenal’s defensive line and he won’t be able to score consistently since he will be used more on a pivot role. His lack of scoring will surely disappoint his teammates.
11. Tom Cleverley - Manchester United
The England midfielder has been heavily criticized this season for his lackluster play in Manchester United’s midfield, and the tie against Olympiakos won’t change anything. Tom Cleverley will fail to make an impact and his play will draw disappointment and irate United’s fans.
10. Mario Balotelli - AC Milan
The AC Milan star is known for being one of the most talented players in the world, but he’s also a headcase that disappears right when his team needs him the most. Atletico Madrid is playing spectacularly and Balotelli won’t be able to be the difference maker; he will get frustrated and won’t be able to make an impact against Los Colchoneros.
9. Jefferson Farfan - Schalke 04
The Peruvian winger is one of Schalke’s weapons on the offensive side of the ball, but he doesn’t have the quality of the pace to do anything against the likes of Sergio Ramos, Pepe or Raphäel Varane. He will struggle mightily and his team will feel that heavily.
8. Angel Di Maria - Real Madrid
The Argentinean winger lost his place in the starting lineup with the arrival of Gareth Bale and he has failed to make an impact for Los Blancos coming off the bench. This trend will continue against Schalke 04, and Carlo Ancelotti will end up picking the likes of Jesé and Morata ahead of the former Benfica star.
7. David Villa - Atletico Madrid
With the emergence of Diego Costa and the arrival of Diego Ribas to solidify the attacking midfield, David Villa will lose relevance in Atletico Madrid’s forward line and he will fail to make an impact against AC Milan. He doesn’t have the pace he had a few years ago to carry an offensive load with his speed like he used to.
6. Kevin-Prince Boateng - Schalke 04
The former Milan playmaker returned to Schalke 04, but he will be completely outmatched against Real Madrid’s defensive midfield. Asier Illarramendi and Xabi Alonso have faced him a few times already and won’t give him space to operate, causing him to get lost in the pitch.
5. Christian Abbiati - AC Milan
The AC Milan goalkeeper has lost a few steps in recent years and he doesn’t have enough quality to start in a team with European aspirations, something that will be fairly noticeable against Los Colchoneros. He will have a lot of trouble stopping the likes of Diego Costa, David Villa and Arda Turan.
4. Fernando Torres - Chelsea
The Spanish striker has struggled mightily ever since joining Chelsea and his lack of confidence will hurt him in this upcoming Champions League tie. Despite the fact that he has enough talent to thrive against Galatasaray’s inexperienced defensive line, his constant struggles will prevent him from making the impact he should make.
3. Lucas Moura - PSG
The Brazilian winger has put up some magnificent displays in the Ligue 1, but has failed to make an impact at the European stage, a trend that will continue against Bayer Leverkusen. The German defenders are strong and quick, so Moura won’t have space to dribble around and move through the flank like he’s used to.
2. Xavi - FC Barcelona
The Barcelona midfielder has been in the eye of the storm in recent weeks, as he’s been criticized for holding up the play too much and his lack of quickness will be a factor against Manchester City. Going against the likes of Fernandinho and Yaya Touré, having speed is key, so Xavi could easily struggle against The Citizens.
1. Alvaro Negredo - Manchester City
The former Sevilla striker is the typical target man, but he won’t make an impact against FC Barcelona. Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano have faced him several times and just like when he played for Sevilla, his presence won’t be felt against Los Blaugranas.