Champion League

5 Players Who Must Improve In Semi-Final 2nd Leg

Last week, we were treated to a couple of sensational semi-final first-leg clashes in the UEFA Champions League. Real Madrid and Bayern Munich played out a scintillating 2-2 draw at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday (April 30), setting the stage for a grand climax at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Vinicius Jr., Toni Kroos, Harry Kane, and Jamal Musiala caught everyone’s attention with their brilliant performances.

On Wednesday, Borussia Dortmund picked up a stunning 1-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in Germany. Manchester United outcast Jadon Sancho dropped a masterclass, completing a tournament-best 12 dribbles against the Parisians.

While some players produced memorable performances, some were uncharacteristically quiet in the first leg. With a place in the final only a step away, they must make it a point to fare better this week. Continue reading to meet five top players who must produce a much-improved performance in the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg.

#5 Min-jae Kim — Bayern Munich

Min jae Kim Must Fair Better In Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg
Min-jae Kim Had A Role To Play In Both Of Real Madrid’s Goals

Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel criticized Min-jae Kim’s performance against Real Madrid last week. According to the manager, Kim was partially at fault for both of Vinicius Jr.’s goals last week. He accused the center-back of pressing too high up the pitch in the 12th minute, which allowed Vinicius Jr. to exploit the space he left behind and put away Toni Kroos’ through ball. His second mistake was fouling Rodrygo inside the box instead of waiting for support to arrive. It handed Vinicius Jr. the opportunity to score a penalty and make it 2-2 at Allianz Arena.

With Erik Dier limping off the field in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to Stuttgart and the question mark still hanging over Matthijs de Ligt and Dayot Upamecano’s involvement, there is a chance that Kim could feature in the second leg. If he gets the opportunity, he must make it a point to perform a lot better than he did last time.

#4 Leon Goretzka — Bayern Munich

Leon Goretzka Is One Of The Players Who Must Step Up In Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg
Leon Goretzka Did Not Have The Best Game In The First Leg Against Real Madrid

Unlike Min-jae Kim, Leon Goretzka did not aid Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg. However, the level of quality and drive we expect from Goretzka was certainly missing. The German midfielder looked overwhelmed against Toni Kroos and Co. and struggled to hold on to the ball. His passing was fairly accurate (37 of 39 passes completed), but he was surprisingly weak in duels, losing five of six.

Thomas Tuchel understood the 29-year-old was not having the best day and took him off for Raphael Guerreiro at halftime. However, with Guerreiro coming off injured in the defeat to Stuttgart, Goretzka could play the entire game at a hostile Santiago Bernabeu. Anything shy of a top performance will work in Real Madrid’s favor.

#3 Antonio Rudiger — Real Madrid

Antonio Rudiger Must Perform Better In Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg
Antonio Rudiger Did Not Perform As Well As Expected In The Semi-Final First Leg

Antonio Rudiger has been a wall for Real Madrid this season, regularly producing memorable performances. However, he was not his usual dependable self in the 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich last week. He covered the box well and helped during transitions from time to time, but he should have done a better job at sticking with Harry Kane.

The Englishman slipped him the dummy on a couple of occasions and created chances for his teammates at will. If Rudiger does not improve and mark him tightly in the return leg, it will not be surprising if Kane gets on the scoresheet from open play at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

#2 Jude Bellingham — Real Madrid

Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham Is The Top Scoring Midfielder In Europe This Season
Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham Is One Of The Most Valuable Players In The World ($128.64 Million)

Arguably the signing of the season, Real Madrid ace Jude Bellingham endured a quiet night by his lofty standards at the Allianz Arena. He combined well with Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo but did not look as threatening in front of goal as he has this season. To fare better in the second leg, Bellingham must try to test the goalkeeper every chance he gets. It will automatically cause Bayern Munich to allocate more bodies to Bellingham, thus affording more time and space to Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo.

Bellingham, 20, has played 38 matches for Real Madrid this season, scoring 22 times and providing 10 assists. He came off the bench on Saturday (May 4) to score in a 3-0 routing of Cadiz.

#1 Kylian Mbappe — PSG

PSG Ace & Real Madrid Target Kylian Mbappe
PSG Ace Kylian Mbappe Was Not At His Best In The Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg

Arguably the best player in the world, Kylian Mbappe cut a frustrating figure as Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) suffered a 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park. The jet-heeled attacker struck the post once in the first half, but that attempt was pretty much the highlight of his day. Against Dortmund, Mbappe had only three shots, two of which were blocked. He also failed to complete five of seven dribbles, lost seven ground duels, and lost possession twice.

With a 1-0 first-leg deficit to overturn, PSG need their poster boy to fire on all cylinders. And if history has taught us anything, we must all brace ourselves for a Mbappe masterclass this Tuesday.



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