The UEFA Champions League returns with some of the most memorable nights in club competitions straight ahead and to make it even more interesting, several Nigeria born players will be part of the party.
The race to be crowned the King of Europe begins tonight with some Nigeria stars and eligible players poised to have their say in who gets what.
In Group A, David Okereke and Emmanuel Dennis played key roles to get Club Brugge to this stage and would need to do even more if the Belgians would have any chance to make it to the knockout phase.
That remains a tall order however, for it would be the greatest upsets in the football world if PSG and Real Madrid fail to pick up the group’s two qualifying slots.
Peter Oladeji Olayinka joined Slavia Praha from Zulte-Waregem last year for nights like this. The 23-year-old midfielder and his teammates will have their work cut out for them when they face Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan in a very tough-looking Group F.
Super Eagles full back Tyronne Ebuehi is back in full flow after a lengthy injury lay off. A boost he will be and real help he will offer when Benfica square up against Zenit, Lyon and Leipzig.
It’s an even group and any of these teams could make it to the next stage with a couple of victories
When the draw was made a couple of weeks ago, Lokomotiv Moscow must have cursed the luck that placed them in the same group as Serie A champions Juventus, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid and Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen.
A hard to breach defense will be crucial to every point earn here and Nigeria international fullback Bryan Idowu will be a key component in such a tight defensive set up. Any thing short of that could see the Russians end as the group’s whipping boys.
Victor Osimhen is certainly the hottest prospect in the French Ligue Un right this minute but can he replicate his stunning goal scoring form in Europe?
The Super Eagles striker has five goals in four league games to his name and will put to serious tests the defenses of Chelsea, Valencia and Ajax. A few goals, two or three shock wins and Lille could be sailing to the knock out rounds. A lot would have to come from Osimhen for that to happen, though.
Paul Onuachu got his Genk career to a decent start by scoring on his debut, albeit in a league defeat. However, Genk are back in the big time and among the big boys and the Belgians would be counting on their Nigerian imports to get them over the line.
Paul is likely to team up with Lagos born attacker Stephen Odey upfront for Genk and both will hope there’s enough never-give-up Nigeria blood coursing through the veins of 19-year-old Belgian defender Shawn Adewoye for them and the rest of the team to cause real damage to Liverpool, Napoli and Salzburg.
Difficult group, no doubt, but in football, anything is possible.
21-year-old Ademola Lookman is still eligible to play for Nigeria despite reports making him a certainty for England. The young winger would in the meantime do well to train his focus on how to get Leipzig past Benfica, Lyon and Zenit St Petersburg.
No point earned in this group will come easy and the Germans will hope Lookman can channel his ferocious abilities towards helping them claim wins and draws.
The name on nearly every lip in English football right now is Tammy Abraham. The young man has literally lit the Premier League on fire with his goals.
7 goals in his last three matches including a hat trick in the 5-2 demolition of Wolves at the weekend reveal a man who is only just scratching the surface of his peak powers.
The Anglo-Nigerian is the weapon with which Frank Lampard seeks to shoot down Valencia, Ajax and Lille.
Before the winners and losers of this group are decided, two of Nigeria’s brightest youngsters – Abraham and Osimhen – will face off.
Super Eagles fans would love to see both of them line up side-by-side for the national team sometimes in the nearest future.
While the Blues have been wonderful in attack, they have been woeful at the back. And that is where Fikayo Tomori could come in to do a solid job to make Chelsea hard to score against.