The UEFA Champions League’s round of 16 begins this week with a few high-profile matchups on tap and some youngsters set to play key roles.
More than half of the teams left have put significant trust in several youngsters, so it will be intriguing to see if they deliver strong performances on the big stage.
Here are 10 players aged 23 or under to watch in the round of 16.
Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham)
Sanchez may only be 21, but he’s already participated in some high-pressure games. He was a member of the Atletico Nacional side that won the Copa Libertadores in 2016, he started the Europa League final last season with Ajax, and he played in several CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers with Colombia.
Juventus is on a tremendous defensive run at the moment ahead of Tuesday’s showdown with Tottenham in Turin. The Serie A champions have only conceded one goal in their last 16 matches in all competitions with an astounding 15 clean sheets. However, the absence of Blaise Matuidi could allow Spurs to threaten the back line via Sanchez.
Spurs 2017/18 • All Competitions
When Davinson Sánchez (21) starts:
• 15 Wins
• 5 Draws
• 2 Losses
• 68% Win Ratio
When Davinson Sánchez doesn’t start:
• 5 Wins
• 1 Draw
• 4 Losses
• 50% Win Ratio
Pivotal player. Seamless transition to top level football. pic.twitter.com/BwoReaU3bG
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) January 13, 2018
Matuidi covers a lot of ground, so that might lead to more freedom for the Colombian centre-back to push forward and operate as a deep-lying playmaker when Tottenham has the ball. That, in turn, means there is another creative presence outside of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Tottenham’s full-backs. That could spell trouble for Juve.
Dimitri Oberlin (Basel)
Oberlin has been central to Basel’s attack throughout the Champions League. He was restricted in the 1-0 win over Manchester United …read more