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Four potentially surprising Champions League stars

| 17.02.2015

With the Champions League making a welcome return, 16 of Europe’s best teams will go head-to-head in a bid to claim football’s biggest club prize.

Many of the usual suspects have successfully reached this stage, including reigning champions Real Madrid and five-time winners Bayern Munich, who are 13/5 favourites with Coral to taste further European success under Pep Guardiola’s reign.

However, Coral football experts look at four stars who have the potential to spring a surprise in this season’s Champions League knock-out stages.

Wilfried Bony
Fresh off the back of a historic African Cup of Nations victory with the Ivory Coast, Bony will be aiming for even more silverware success with new club Manchester City, after sealing a January switch from Swansea City.

The former Swans striker is set to make his maiden Champions League appearance for for the Premier league champions, when they face a visit from Spanish giants Barcelona.

Despite having never featured in the competition proper, Bony has struck in the Europa League before, netting five times for his former employers last season.

Before joining up with his international teammates in Equatorial Guinea, the 26-year-old fired in nine goals across all competitions, and will undoubtedly play a big part in City’s attempt to find success in the Champions League under Manuel Pellegrini.

Watch Bony strike for the Ivory Coast against Algeria on the way to a famous African Cup of Nations triumph.

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco
Monaco’s menacing midfielder extended his contract with the club to 2019 last summer, and the battling Belgian will be aiming to steer his French side towards European glory when they travel to the Emirates.

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal will be tough opponents, but with clinical Carrasco in their ranks, Leonardo Jardim’s Ligue 1 outfit will be confident of causing an upset in London.

The fiery midfield enforcer has struck five times this season from his central role, and has also been issued with seven yellow cards across the French top-flight, French League Cup and Champions League, proving he has a ferocious style of play.

Monaco’s brilliant Belgian has produced many dominant displays during this current campaign, and is sure to be heavily involved when Gunners boss Wenger faces his former club over two legs.

Juan Quintero
Colombia’s World Cup star has netted two Portuguese Liga goals this term, while also helping to guide Porto to this year’s Champions League knock-out stages, and is 5/1 to score again anytime against Basel.

The potent playmaker has previously been linked with a move to the Premier league, with Liverpool once tipped to secure his signature, before a deal with the Portuguese giants was agreed.

Quintero has the talent and attacking attributes to cause Basel genuine problems when his side come up against the Switzerland outfit, with a good run in the competition looking possible.

Son Heung-Min
The South Korean attacker has had a sensational year, striking 11 times in all competitions during the course of the season, including a splendid hat-trick in Bayer Leverkusen’s recent defeat to German league rivals Wolfsburg.

Brilliant Bundesliga forward Son was unfortunate to have tucked away a terrific trio but still ended up on the losing side, as the top four hopefuls crashed to an incredible 5-4 loss.

Sensational Son has made history in his short career, having scored his first Bundesliga goal for former team Hamburg in 2010 at the age of 18, breaking the club’s 39-year-old record for the youngest scorer in a league fixture.

The amazing Asian attacker, who is the club’s top league scorer with eight goals in 18 outings, also became the first Korean to score more than one goal in a Champions league match, after bagging a brace against Zenit St Petersburg last November.

Leverkusen will meet La Liga champions and last year’s finalists Atletico Madrid in the knock-out stage, with Diego Simeone’s men available at 14/1 to go one step further this term.



Lee Gormley

Lee joined the Coral team in 2014 after studying at Leeds Trinity University, having moved across the water from Ireland, and has plenty of industry experience from his time with various news outlets in both England and Northern Ireland. After graduating with a BA Honours degree in Sports Journalism, he has since become an important member of the talented sports desk, passionately covering boxing, football and snooker, among many other sports. Lee is also a massive Manchester United and Republic of Ireland fan, but curbs any bias during his work, and outside of his job can be found regularly taking part in sport himself, such as boxing, GAA and football.