Tonight, Mamelodi Sundowns will take on Barcelona and the game will provide the Downs players with the opportunity to test themselves against the world’s best, writes DEAN WORKMAN.
For Masandawana the game clearly has more importance than for the Barca players who are simply fulfilling a club commitment. It provides the 2016 Caf Champions League winners with the chance to measure themselves against the best in the world.
And as such, a number of duels across the pitch will provide the Sundowns players with arguably their toughest ever test.
Here are some of the match-ups to look out for:
Luis Suarez vs Ricardo Nascimento
A clash of the South Americans in Africa. Uruguayan Suarez will come face to face with Brazilian Nascimento, with the Sundowns centreback undoubtedly bracing himself for a stern test. Nascimento may have cemented his spot in the Downs defence but he will have another chance this evening to further prove himself to the Yellow Nation against one of the worlds most lethal strikers.
Lionel Messi vs Denis Onyango
What is there to say about Messi that hasn’t been said before? The man is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever to play the game, but he will come up against one of Africa’s premium shot-stoppers in Onyango. The Ugandan has earned cult status at Masandawana and will have an opportunity to keep out a livening legend on Wednesday evening.
Hlompo Kekana vs Andries Iniesta
Sundowns holding midfielder and captain Kekana will have the honour of coming face to face with the legendary Iniesta in what will be one of his final games for the Catalan club. Kekana is the rock at the base of the Sundowns midfield and will have his work cut out for him if he is going to stop Iniesta and Co.
Percy Tau vs Gerard Piqué
Tau has enjoyed a breakthrough season where he finished the top scorer in the Absa Premiership and is largely tipped to move to Europe. What better way to announce yourself to the rest of the world? A standout performance against Piqué and Co will undoubtedly have European suitors lining up for the Bafana Bafana star.
Gaston Sirino vs Jordi Alba
The Uruguay winger signed at the beginning of the 17/18 campaign and has enjoyed a successful debut season. He will be provided with the sternest test of his Sundowns career to date when he comes up against Alba. The Spanish fullback is not only a world-class defender, but he is arguably even better going forward. Sirino will have to look to pin Alba back and not allow him free reign of the left flank.
The Absa Premiership Champions will take on the La Liga Champions in a game dubbed Champion vs Champion on Wednesday evening at the FNB Stadium with kick off at 6pm.