Julián Álvarez
The Argentine striker has stood out in this group stage AFP

ALABAMA - With the UEFA Champions League Group Stages coming to an end, the road to Wembley narrows as the contenders seal their ticket to the Knockout Stages.

In what has been a successful season for Latinos across Europe's premiere competition, here's a look at some of the players that could be key as their teams seek a place in this season's final.

Real Madrid's Latinos

Perhaps the most "Latino-friendly" team in the competition, Real Madrid hasn't had difficulties navigating this year's group stage. With the help of players like Federico Valverde, Rodrygo and Vinicius, the 'Merengues' finished as the best offense in the group stages, with 16 goals scored in six games.

Since the start of last season, no Real Madrid player has scored more UCL goals than Brazilian Vinícius Júnior (9). He has developed a great partnership with fellow countryman Rodrygo, who has 8 UCL goals to his name since last season.

Vinicius Junior
The Brazilian star has been key for Real Madrid AFP

Alongside them, another Latino star will be key for Carlo Ancelotti's side during their quest to win yet another continental title. Uruguayan Federico Valverde has become a jack of all trades for the team in the past few years. So far this season, only Antonio Rudiger has played more minutes than Valverde (1,715). In fact, Valverde has featured in every game played by Real Madrid this season.

Ronald Araújo

Another Uruguayan that has been key for his team this season has been Barcelona's Ronald Araújo. The central defender has played in four UCL games so far this season, helping Barcelona to account for the 2nd-best defensive record in the group stage (3 goals against after the fifth match).

Since making his debut for Barcelona's first team during the 2019-20 season, Araújo has been a key member of the 'culés'. In the 127 games he has played for the club, Barcelona has a 64% win percentage when Araújo is involved.

Lautaro Martínez

After coming off a runner-up finish last season, Inter Milan's Lautaro Martínez has continued his fine form for club and country, scoring 16 goals in all competitions so far this season. The Argentine has led Inter Milan in scoring in each of the previous two seasons, scoring at least 25 goals in each campaign.

Although he has only 2 UCL goals this term, both of them were of huge value for the Italian giants as they finished the group stage unbeaten.

Julián Álvarez

Martínez' striking partner in the Argentina national team has also had an incredible season.

Julián Álvarez' importance in Pep Guardiola's system has exponentially grown this season. Last year, his ' role was to impact games coming off the bench or as a fresh alternative when rotating the squad. This season, though, the Argentine has at times matched Erling Haaland's impact across the Manchester City forward line.

Julián Álvarez scores a phenomenal goal vs RB Leipzig (Via Manchester City's official YouTube channel)

His 16 goal contributions across all competitions this season rank him 2nd among Man City players, only behind the Norwegian's 24 (19 goals, 5 assists). Out of those 16 contributions, five of them came in the Champions League (4 goals, 1 assist).

He also leads all City players with 8 assists so far this season.

Gabriel Jesus

Another player from Latin America that has been a differential for his team this season has been Gabriel Jesus with Arsenal.

The North London side returned to the Champions League for the first time in six years, and they did so in a stylish manner. With a total of 16 goals scored (T-1st), Arsenal looked dangerous in attacks thanks to Gabriel Jesus' efforts, scoring four and assisting two goals during the group stages.

Gabriel Jesus scores with a cool finish in Arsenal's 6-0 victory over Lens (Via Arsenal's official YouTube channel)

The four goals scored this term have taken his grand total to 24 UCL career goals. In the history of the competition, only Neymar (43), Kaká (30) Rivaldo (27) and Giovane Elber (25) have scored more among Brazilian players.

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