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Matchday one of the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League had goals, goals and more goals. There were upsets, comebacks, and big wins over two nights of intense action. Among them all were some truly outstanding youngsters who took their chance and looked hungry for more. The next generation who are ready to leave their mark on this year’s competition after a brilliant opening. FootTheBall brings you the 10 starlets to watch out for and make a note now.



One of the many heroes in Club Brugge’s heroic 1-1 draw with PSG. De Ketelaere, playing as the furthest man on the team, was constantly making a nuisance of himself. The 20-year-old who can play a variety of positions in attack also, created the most chances (5) and won the most duels (9).


Furthermore, he had a passing accuracy of 89% along with two shots on target against the big hitters from France. This is nothing new for the attacker who had already scored three goals and had two assists coming into last night. If he can continue this form up, De Ketelaere will be a standout performer on this team that is looking to make waves this year.



The Olympic gold medallist now in his second season with Ajax looks very much like the real deal. Though he did not get on the scoresheet himself, Antony had a hat-trick of assists in his team’s rout of Sporting from an xA of 0.84, which led to Sebastien Haller’s record-breaking night.


His intelligent and direct running caused problems all night long as his shot and the subsequent save made the first for Haller. The second was more of an unselfish play that allowed Haller to slide the ball in before the most beautiful of the three arrived. A curling, outside of the left boot cross that was flicked into the net.


Antony also was involved in the buildup play for Steve Berghuis’ goal and while he himself does not score many, his creativity and flair at unsettling the opponents will be a major weapon.



Joining an European giant at the age of 18 is never easy for a foreigner and Rodrygo has had to bide his time. He made 22 appearances last season but only 10 of them were starts which has been the same case for this year as well. Rodrygo has only played a combined 70 minutes over four league matches so far.


Nevertheless, he notched up one goal and six assists in La Liga last term while the winner against Inter showed his game-changing ability on this team. He showed great presence of mind to get in front of his marker in the final minute of the match and guide a volley home. Karim Benzema remains the figurehead but the young Brazilian will be an useful asset as the season goes on.


It really takes a special kind of attacking weapon to win three penalties in 35 minutes. Adeyemi is the latest talent coming from the RB Salzburg factory and is already turning heads in Austria. With six goals and one assist already, he is one shy of his whole league tally from last season.


Though the penalty miss put a damper on things, the 19-year-old is a precocious striker who can also play on the flanks. Adeyemi has pace to burn and sound finishing abilities which he also demonstrated on Germany debut by netting a goal.


This season will be crucial for him in order to take the next step up in his game while already being monitored by some of the biggest clubs in Europe.



Another German youngster who can play on either wing in support of the main striker and also in behind him. Musiala had 26 appearances last season in the Bundesliga (seven starts) which yielded six goals and an assist.


Furthermore, on the defensive end of things, he is averaging 2.81 tackles, 2.03 interceptions and 24.62 pressures (all P90) which put him in the 97-99th percentile of players in his position across Europe. He was virtually unplayable against Barcelona, hitting the woodwork once and having a pass completion of 91%.


His quick feet and trickery along with low centre of gravity make him a nightmare to mark as he has already racked up two goals and two assists in the league. Bayern’s transition to a younger crop of players should see him benefit immensely.



One of the brightest stars in England’s galaxy of generational newcomers. Bellingham has been on a tear ever since lighting up the Championship with Birmingham City who retired his number when he left for Borussia Dortmund at 17.


He has wasted no time in becoming a regular in Germany as someone who is heavily involved in his team’s buildup plays. 1.63 dribbles completed, 3.16 touches in opponents’ penalty area, 5.39 progressive passes received (all P90) have put him above the 90th percentile of players. Bellingham had a hand in both goals against Besiktas which really showed off his all-round game.


Firstly, he cushioned a lifted ball onto his chest before firing a smart finish for the first goal before skipping past his marker and sliding a ball for Erling Haaland for the game’s second. Bellingham has already become a key member of the England setup and performances like these on the grandest club stage will further solidify his reputation for the future.



A product of the famed Ajax youth academy who is still just 19-years-old. Gravenberch operates in the midfield three for Erik ten Hag and made 32 appearances last season. It still produced three goals and five assists while he played a clever through ball for the Dutch giants’ third goal last night.


He is a very forward-thinking player who has 5.90 progressive passes and 6.54 progresssive carried P90, illustrating the level of threat he adds to his side.


Furthermore, Gravenberch also played at Euro 2020 and is emerging as a key contributor for the Oranje who have a new crop of young players coming through. This year’s European campaign can prove to be a vital one for him and Ajax after the heroics of 2018.


The man-of-the-match in a game that featured Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and all of PSG’s squad, Lang was a menace down the left flank, completing the most dribbles (5), winning seven duels and making four recoveries.


Lang is also a former graduate of Jong Ajax as well as the senior team before having a blockbuster 2020-21 campaign in the Belgian top-flight. He racked up 15 goals and eight assists and has started off just where he left off. With three goals and four assists, he and De Ketalaere are causing all kinds of havoc back home and they just did it again last night.


Lang loves to get alongside the striker and playing in advanced roles which will be crucial if Brugge hope to make it out of a very tough group.



The only goal scorer for Salzburg from three penalty kicks and along with it, one of the brightest players on the pitch against Sevilla. Sucic plays as a central midfielder but can also move on the wings from where pushes forward. He created the most chances (5) as well as hitting the post while another shot was saved by the keeper.


The 19-year-old has one of the brightest platforms to showcase his talent, not only for his club but on the Champions League stage too. Furthermore, not only does he play the game with a calm head and hounds the opposition for the ball, Sucic is also always looking to play the attacking passes to get his team on the front foot. The Austrians have a great chance of qualifying for the knockout phase but will need Sucic and of course Adeyemi in top form.



One of the fastest rising ballers whose move to Real Madrid has started swimmingly well. Having been through a tough childhood and joining the Stade Rennes, Camavinga’s meteoric rise is punctuated with his deep understanding of the game. Having made close to 70 appearances in Ligue 1, his stats speak for themselves.


23.57 pressures, 3.84 tackles, 1.75 dribbles completed and 6.18 progressive carries (all P90) put him in the high 80th and 90th percentile across the continent. Having already scored for France on his senior team debut, he did the same with Los Blancos over the weekend. Last night, in a tense encounter with Inter, it was Camavinga’s perfectly timed run and pass that was finished off by Rodrygo for the match-winner.


The pressure of playing for Madrid is never easy for anyone, especially a teenage newcomer but Camavinga has all the qualities to help them back to the top of Europe.

Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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