The line-up for the UEFA Champions League round of 16 was completed on Wednesday.
Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid topped their respective groups to qualify as seeded teams for the next round.
On the other hand, Atalanta, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Lazio, Leipzig, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Porto and Sevilla have managed to make it to the knockout stages by finishing in the second in their groups, thereby qualifying as unseeded teams for the round of 16.
Meanwhile, Manchester United, Inter Milan and Ajax are some of the big clubs who failed to qualify for the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League.
The elite European football competition’s group stage has witnessed some sensational individual performances in the first six matchdays. Here are five best players from UCL 2020-21 group stage:
Neymar - PSG
The PSG talisman has had an incredible start to the new Champions League campaign after scoring six goals in five games this season. Neymar had bagged a stunning hat-trick on matchday 6 to help PSG thrash Istanbul Basaksehir 5-1 and finish at the top spot in Group H. Interestingly, the 28-year-old Brazilian has joined former teammate Lionel Messi (8) and Cristiano Ronaldo (8) as the only other players to score three Champions League hat-tricks.
Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund
The Norwegian wonderkid has already taken the football world by storm, scoring 33 goals and providing six assists in 32 matches for Borussia Dortmund in 2020. Erling Braut Haaland has also been in sensational form in the Champions League this season, scoring six goals in just four games. In November, the 20-year-old had set a new record by becoming the quickest to 15 Champions League goals in the competition's history. He had broken the previous record held by Ruud van Nistelrooy and Roberto Soldado.
Alvaro Morata - Juventus
Juventus’ Alvaro Morata has been UCL’s joint top-scorer this season with six goals in as many games. The Spanish striker has been in fine goalscoring form for the Old Lady, helping them qualify for the round of 16 by finishing at the top spot in Group G. Interestingly, the 28-year-old had three goals disallowed for offside against Barcelona in a UCL group stage game, which Juventus lost 2–0 at home.
Marcus Rashford - Manchester United
Even though Manchester United failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, Marcus Rashford was one of the standout performers during the group stages. The 23-year-old finished the UCL campaign as joint top-scorer in the competition, with six goals in as many games. The England international had scored the winning goal in a 2–1 away win against PSG in the first match of the campaign. In the next UCL encounter, Rashford smashed his first United hat-trick in a 5–0 win over RB Leipzig.
Edouard Mendy - Chelsea
Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy has been the best goalkeeper in the Champions League group stages so far. Since the French shot-stopper’s arrival, the Blue’s defense has looked rock-solid in the UCL this season, with four clean sheets so far. Frank Lampard-led Chelsea have shown significant improvements at the back since the 28-year-old has replaced Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Franck Fife