Champions League Power Rankings: Africans still standing in the quarter-finals

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Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey

With the rest of Europe’s premier club competition to be played out in Lisbon, Goal weigh up the chances of the continent’s stars in the last eight

5 Toko Ekambi, Traore, Cornet & Diomande (Olympique Lyonnais)

After defeating one of the competition’s favourites, albeit a flailing one in Juventus on Friday night, Lyon now have it all to do if they’re to go all the way and become the first French side since Olympique Marseille in 1993 to win the Champions League.

The quartet of Karl Toko Ekambi, Bertrand Traore, Maxwel Cornet and Sinaly Diomande will play varying roles for Rudi Garcia’s troops in their attempts to defeat Manchester City in the last eight, before facing either Bayern Munich or Barcelona in the semis if they defeat the Citizens.

Toko Ekambi and Cornet are likely to feature prominently, while Traore may have to make do with his supporting role for the Ligue 1 outfit. Teenager Diomande was only added to the squad recently and is unlikely to feature prominently.

The thorny path to success for Lyon means they have little chance of winning their first Champions League crown.

4 Upamecano, Haidara, Nkunku & Lookman (RB Leipzig)

Like Lyon, the Germans are outsiders to reign supreme on the continent but they, at least, have the slight edge given they are on the supposedly better side of the draw.

Not all four of Dayot Upamecano, Amadou Haidara, Christopher Nkunku and Ademola Lookman will be sure of starts in their quarter-final encounter with Atletico Madrid, who knocked out defending champions Liverpool in the Round of 16.

Upamecano and Nkunku are likely to be crucial to Julian Nagelsmann’s approach against Diego Simeone’s side, while Haidara may play a part in the encounter at Estadio Jose Alvalade. Lookman, despite being part of the squad, may not add to his sole Champions League appearance of the season.

Success for Leipzig against Los Colchoneros will pit them against the winner of the clash between Atalanta and Paris-Saint Germain.

3 Idrissa Gueye & Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Paris-Saint Germain)

Gueye will undoubtedly play a huge role in PSG’s quest to finally conquer Europe after years of underachieving in the continent’s top competition.

While the midfield enforcer will be a key component of Thomas Tuchel’s plan, Choupo-Moting may be peripheral with Mauro Icardi expected to lead the line in Lisbon. The Cameroon forward was put in the squad to replace the departed Edinson Cavani who didn’t stay on after the expiration of his contract.

The Parisians face the effervescent Atalanta on Wednesday seeking to prevent an upset from Gian Piero Gasperini’s team.

2 Thomas Partey (Atletico Madrid)

While it’s a tight call over who comes in at second, Atletico’s superior pedigree in European competition sees them ranked higher than PSG.

Partey will certainly be an important part of Diego Simeone’s side seeking success in the competition after final losses in 2014 and 2016.

Los Colchoneros eliminated Liverpool in dramatic style in the first knockout round and are on the presumed ‘easier’ side of the draw.

The Madrid outfit do battle with RB Leipzig in the last eight, and could face off with Atalanta or the Paris club in the last four.

1 Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

The Algeria star was left out of Pep Guardiola’s line-up against Real Madrid on Friday, with the Spanish trainer preferring Phil Foden in the XI.

Man City defeated Los Blancos 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate) and are arguably favourites for the competition along with Bayern Munich.

Both sides could meet in the semi-final if Mahrez and co. dispatch Lyon and Bayern beat giants Barcelona, an encounter between teams considered joint-favourites to lift the competition.

Given the Ligue 1 outfit already eliminated Juventus, Pep’s side have to be wary to avoid any upsets in the quarters.

Source: goal.com

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