Sancho, Olmo, Rodri and De Ligt - 10 players to watch in the 2019-20 Champions League

By Sports Desk September 16, 2019

The 2019-20 Champions League gets under way with the usual suspects among the favourites for the title: Barcelona, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and holders Liverpool.

Madrid face PSG in a blockbuster opening clash but the most interesting stories in the group stage could be bubbling under the surface, with Atalanta among the clubs making their competition debuts.

Stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard, Sergio Aguero and Mohamed Salah could dominate but the stage is set for many others to make their names among Europe's elite.

Omnisport picks out 10 players who may have a huge impact on this season's Champions League.


MATTHIJS DE LIGT - JUVENTUS

Juventus may have preferred to slowly integrate De Ligt into their defence after he joined from Ajax. But a long-term injury to captain Giorgio Chiellini means the Netherlands centre-back has been pressed into action already. De Ligt has made a stumbling start in Turin but his leadership helped Ajax reach the semi-finals last season, knocking Juve out along the way. If they are to recapture the Champions League title, De Ligt is set for a key role at the back.


JOAO FELIX - ATLETICO MADRID

Antoine Griezmann's move to Barcelona left Atletico with a huge hole to fill in their attack, with the Rojiblancos breaking their club record to sign Joao Felix from Benfica. There is no doubting the 19-year-old's extreme talent but whether or not he is ready to lead Atleti to Champions League glory after some perilously near misses in recent years remains to be seen.


JADON SANCHO - BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Another teenager, England star Sancho is already one of the most dangerous forwards in world football. The 19-year-old has already contributed two goals and four assists in the Bundesliga this term, while he opened his international account with a brace against Kosovo last week. Perhaps most impressive about Sancho is his decision-making in the final third where he is clinical, especially on the break. Dortmund are in a tough Group F with Barcelona, Inter and Slavia Prague.


RODRI - MANCHESTER CITY

European success continues to elude City but the capture of Rodri from Atletico could help them finally go to the next level in the Champions League. Control has been an issue for Pep Guardiola's men in the knockout rounds but Spain midfielder Rodri, seen as a successor to Sergio Busquets internationally, should enable them to dominate possession more than ever.


PHILIPPE COUTINHO - BAYERN MUNICH

Having struggled to justify his move to Barcelona, Brazil playmaker Coutinho has been given a fresh start with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. His arrival ought to help address the loss of James Rodriguez after his two-year loan from Real Madrid ended. Bayern are looking for a first European crown since 2012-13 with Coutinho needing to step up.


ERLING HAALAND - SALZBURG

One of Europe's most in-form strikers, Haaland hit eight league goals in six games for Austrian champions Salzburg before the international break. The Leeds-born 19-year-old, son of former Manchester City midfielder Alf-Inge Haaland, shot to fame when he scored nine goals in Norway's 12-0 win over Honduras at the Under-20 World Cup earlier this year.


LAUTARO MARTINEZ - INTER

Inter and Dortmund look likely to be scrapping for second spot in Group F, so Antonio Conte will want a big impact from Lautaro Martinez. The Argentina attacker should get more chances to impress after the departure of compatriot Mauro Icardi to PSG on loan and he showed he is in fine form by hitting a hat-trick in a friendly defeat of Mexico during the international break.


DANI OLMO - DINAMO ZAGREB

Having led Spain to glory at the European Under-21 Championship this year, Olmo was one of Europe's most in-demand players. Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Tottenham were all linked with the 21-year-old, who was retained by Dinamo instead. He offers a genuine threat in the final third, having scored eight league goals last term, and Dinamo have a real chance of qualifying from Group C behind likely winners Manchester City.


ALEJANDRO GOMEZ - ATALANTA

In the same group, along with Shakhtar Donetsk, are Champions League newcomers Atalanta, who thrilled in Serie A last term. Finally getting a chance to shine in the Champions League, Gomez may not get another opportunity to adorn this competition. One of the most consistent performers in Italy's top flight, the 31-year-old could help Atalanta become the tournament's surprise package.


MASON MOUNT - CHELSEA

A transfer ban has forced Europa League winners Chelsea to reassess their squad with new England international Mason Mount among those making the most of their chance under Blues head coach Frank Lampard. Three Premier League goals have helped the 20-year-old, who played under Lampard at Championship side Derby County on loan last season, settle in quickly. The Champions League is his next test.

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    James Milner's last-gasp penalty kept the run alive in a hard-earned 2-1 triumph over Leicester City at Anfield before the international break.

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