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Fantasy Focus: Who to pick from the Champions League semi-finals?

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Four teams, one title!

After an exhilarating quarter-final round of the UEFA Champions League that saw some enthralling performances in Lisbon, Portugal, we are down to the business end of the competition. 

Bayern Munich, after humiliating Barcelona 8-2, face Lyon, who eliminated Manchester City to cause one of the biggest upsets of the season. RB Leipzig, who got the better of Atletico Madrid, square off against Paris Saint-Germain, who ended Atalanta’s fairy-tale run with a last-minute 2-1 win.

With two high profile games in the line, we give you five players who are tipped highly to make an impact in their respective fixtures.

Player: Moussa Dembele

Team: Lyon

Match: Lyon vs Bayern Munich

Striker Moussa Dembele was left on the bench against Manchester City, but it was his brace that guided Lyon to the semi-finals of the competition. With Memphis Depay back in the hold following a long-term injury, Dembele would be hoping to combine with the former Manchester United winger, and Lyon are certain to count on their attacking duo if they are to churn anything positive against the free-flowing Bayern Munich side.

Two goals in nine Champions League appearances don’t really bolster confidence but the former Celtic man is certainly riding high on momentum after a match-winning effort against Pep Guardiola’s side. 

Player: Robert Lewandowski

Team: Bayern Munich

Match: Lyon vs Bayern Munich

A goal against Barcelona in the quarter-finals made Robert Lewandowski the first player in Bayern Munich’s history to score in eight consecutive games in major European competition. Having already notched 55 goals and nine assists in 46 games in all competitions, the Polish striker is highly tipped to wreak havoc when he squares off against Lyon, who have duly struggled in keeping clean sheets this season.

As far as his personal record goes, he is just four goals shy of becoming the third-highest goal-scorer the Champions League history.  A no-brainer in the fantasy team.

Serge Gnabry

Team: Bayern Munich

Match: Lyon vs Bayern Munich

Probably one of the most underrated players in the Bayern Munich squad, winger Serge Gnabry has scored seven goals and two assists in eight Champions League fixtures this season, taking his tally to 19 goals and 12 assists across the European competition and Bundesliga. Known for terrorising the opponents with a blistering pace, the former Arsenal man will be the one to keep a keen eye on.

His goal scoring form might have taken a hit in recent times, but a return of a goal and an assist against Barcelona duly keeps him in line of players who can make an impact on the night.

Neymar

Team: Paris Saint-Germain

Match: RB Leipzig vs Paris Saint-Germain

Baring a barren run against Bordeaux in Ligue 1 and Lyon in the League Cup final in July, PSG forward Neymar has been involved in nine goals (eight goals and one assist) in his last ten appearances (including friendlies). He was at his usual best when PSG faced Atalanta in the quarter-finals. He did miss a few glorious chances, but he made up for the loss by playing an important role in both of PSG’s goals that night.

Up against a Leipzig side who have kept just two clean sheets in all competitions since football resumed in Germany, the Brazilian can well and truly be the one who can make a difference. 

Dani Olmo

Team: RB Leipzig

Match: RB Leipzig vs Paris Saint-Germain

Signed during this year’s January transfer window from Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb, attacking midfielder Dani Olmo has made a telling impact at his new club, scoring five goals and an assist across three competitions (Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB Pokal). A match-winning goal against Atletico in the quarter-finals meant that he has been directly involved in four goals in his last five Champions League appearances (three goals, one assist).

With Timo Werner no longer available, Leipzig will be counting on their creative outlays in order to cause an upset against PSG. And in that context, Olmo could well and truly be the difference.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Rafael Marchante, David Ramos

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