3 Players to watch during Tuesday's UEFA Champions League action
The UEFA Champions League's Round of 16 will continue this Tuesday with two exciting games. Besiktas will visit Bayern Munich. Chelsea will host Barcelona. The latter pairing has a distinct history in semifinal meetings. John Terry won't be involved, however, and there won't be a Norwegian referee.
There will be several players worth watching in both games but who will rise above the rest to lead their respective teams? Here are three players to watch for in Tuesday's games.
Besiktas was a big surprise during the group stage. Dropped into a Group G fatal four-way alongside AS Monaco, FC Porto, and RB Leipzig, the Black Eagles emerged unbeaten with four wins and two draws. The attacking line, with Ricardo Quaresma, Anderson Talisca, and Ryan Babel playing behind Cenk Tosun, was their biggest strength. With Tosun off to Everton, it is likely Alvaro Negredo or possibly Vagner Love will take his place in the starting XI. Still, most of the offensive load will fall on Talisca's shoulders.
The Brazilian playmaker has become a top player in the Super Lig. He possesses a rare mix of athleticism, skill, and height that is quite difficult to defend. He's strong in the air, can battle physically with anyone, and has a keen eye for goal. Talisca netted four times during the Group Stage. He will need to be at his best against Bayern. He is the engine that keeps his team going in the final third.
Lionel Messi only scored three times during the group stage. He averaged one goal per 141 minutes. He also added one assist. One could say Messi wasn't very important for Barca during the Group Stage. But anyone who saw Los Blaugranas during the first round of the tournament knows Messi is the team's undisputed leader. When things get tough or Barcelona is in crunch time, the Argentinian superstar is usually at his best.
As such, expect him to be the main driving force for Los Cules in a tough encounter at Stamford Bridge. Barcelona and Chelsea have developed a heated rivalry over the last few years. Barca players and fans still remember when Chelsea knocked them out of the UCL semifinals in 2012. Ernesto Valverde's squad is in top form. There is no question they intend to avenge that loss. Expect Messi to headline Barca's attack in what promises to be a memorable encounter.
The man ultimately charged with stopping Lionel Messi, and the entire Barcelona attacking line for that matter. The Belgian international has spent the entire season brushing off transfer rumours regarding his departure for Real Madrid. For now, he remains between the posts for Chelsea and a critical piece in Antonio Conte's defensive scheme.
Courtois is widely considered to be a world-class keeper. His quality will be put to the test against Europe's in-form team. He won't do everything on his own, but it's not a secret he will play a big role in this game. If he is sharp and at his best, it may be the difference Chelsea needs.