UEFA Champions League semi-final stars to watch

16 May 2023

UEFA Champions League semi-final stars to watch

We’re approaching the second legs of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals (streaming live on Showmax Pro*, courtesy of SuperSport) where the stage is set for someone to emerge as a hero and put their team one step closer to lifting the famous cup.

Who will be the ones to send their team to Istanbul?

Erling Haaland

In his first season at Manchester City, the “Striking Viking” has obliterated all the Premier League scoring records.

But it’s in the Champions League where Haaland will ultimately be measured. He was brought in as a missing piece of Pep Guardiola’s jigsaw puzzle – an attacking fulcrum that acts as the most important goalscoring outlet when games are tight.

Haaland is the leading scorer in this year’s tournament with 12 goals and if he gets one against Real Madrid to break the first leg deadlock, it’ll be his most important goal of the season by far.

Kevin de Bruyne

No player exemplifies Manchester City’s modern success more than Kevin de Bruyne, who has been there for all the titles won under Guardiola and has also felt all the pain every time they’ve fallen short in the Champions League.

At this stage last year, De Bruyne was substituted with 20 minutes left of the second leg against Real Madrid with his side 5-3 up on aggregate. He then sat powerless on the bench as Los Blancos scored three unanswered goals to complete one of the most extraordinary comebacks.

His powerful equaliser last week was the strike of a man with unfinished business in the tournament. So often he’s been the go-to man in domestic football and could enhance his reputation as one of the most influential players in the world if he sends City to the final.

Vinicius Junior

The brightest spark in this current Real Madrid vintage, the Brazilian seems to save his best performances for this tournament.

He’s scored 11 Champions League goals in the last two seasons, including the winner in last year’s final and the opener in last week’s second leg. Another one at the Etihad could put him on track to be a back-to-back Champions League winner.

Karim Benzema

The Frenchman was the definitely the man for the big occasion last year when he picked up a well-deserved Ballon d’Or but has been somewhat less influential for Real Madrid in 2023.

He’s scored four goals in this season’s tournament, all of them coming against English clubs, including a brace in an extraordinary 5-2 win at Anfield in the last 16.

He’s also one goal short of Robert Lewandowski in third place on the all-time UEFA Champions League scorers list. A place on that podium along with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would be a feat to savour.

Rafael Leao

The Portuguese attacker’s absence through injury in the first leg was felt for AC Milan as they went down 2-0 to their bitter rivals Inter, but it seems that he could be in line to make a return as they search for a great comeback story at San Siro.

This Serie A season has been his best in terms of goalscoring but he hasn’t lit up the Champions League yet, with only one goal in this campaign that came in the group stage.

Olivier Giroud

Giroud entrenched himself as a club legend last season when he scored twice in a come-from-behind victory against Inter in a win that put AC Milan on course for a Serie A title.

If there is another great Rossoneri derby comeback story to be told this week, Giroud could well be the instigator.

As a World Cup winner with France and a Champions League winner with Chelsea, no-one can deny Giroud’s pedigree as he looks to lead AC Milan to more glory.

Hakan Calhanoglou

The Turk made the bold move of moving from one Milan rival to the other when he joined Inter only to see his old employers go on to lift the Serie A title with his new club finishing as runners-up.

Calhanoglou is a midfielder with an eye for the spectacular and how he would love for one of his driving long-range efforts to put this double-legged derby to bed and send the Nerazzuri into what would be a home final for him. 

Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian joined Inter for a second spell with a point to prove after being jettisoned by Chelsea despite a £97.5 million transfer fee when he joined. After a slow first half to the season, he’s starting to prove that point.

He scored in the Round of 16 as well as the quarter-finals and will relish the chance to shine again in such a high-profile setting.

If he can go on to pick up a Champions League winners medal, it will be fascinating to see how Chelsea respond in the off-season.

*Note that the UEFA Champions League streams live on Showmax Pro only in South Africa, Lesotho and Mauritius.

Why Showmax Pro?

Showmax Pro is a streaming service available for Showmax subscribers in Africa that bundles the Showmax entertainment offering with music channels, news and live sports streaming from SuperSport.

Subscribers can live stream the latest seasons of the English Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, UEFA Europa and UEFA Conference leagues, FIFA World Cup qualifiers and more.

The platform also offers a wide range of other live sports events including athletics, professional boxing, and the world’s biggest marathons. 

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