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Champions League semifinals: Which of Africa's stars will feature?

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey
Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey

Ahead of the Champions League semifinal first legs, KweséESPN profile the African stars still standing in the competition.

Tuesday, May 2nd: Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid

Thomas Partey is the only African player on the books of either of the Madrid giants and, having taken to the field in Atletico's defeat by Real in last season's final, he will be as desperate as anyone on the Rojiblancos' books to take revenge over Zinedine Zidane's side.

As was the case last season, Partey is coming into his own as the campaign draws to a close and with Atleti's resources stretched, despite not having featured much at the tail end of 2016.

He demonstrated his dynamic qualities against Osasuna -- albeit in a performance marred somewhat by a penalty miss -- but also offers something going forward as well, as he demonstrated with a goal in the demolition of Las Palmas at the weekend.

In Europe, the Ghana international is typically introduced by Simeone as a late substitute when the Spanish heavyweights are looking to kill off a contest, as was the case in the 1-0 first-leg victory over Leicester City in the quarterfinals.

Expect the Black Star to be employed in a similar capacity against Real, particularly if Atleti take the lead in the Bernabeu.

Wednesday, May 3rd: AS Monaco vs. Juventus

Monaco moved a step closer to the Ligue 1 title at the weekend when they downed Toulouse and rivals Paris Saint-Germain were defeated by OGC Nice.

They've kept their momentum going despite battling on both fronts, although, after downing Borussia Dortmund in the quarters, they'll have their work cut out to oust Juventus and reach a first final since 2004.

Leonardo Jardim's young and inexperienced side may have momentum on their side, but they're battling a host of injury problems.

Full-back is a position particularly badly hit, and while Mali's Almamy Toure may return in time to feature against Juve, Djibril Sidibe is definitely out.

Reassuringly for the Portuguese coach, veteran wideman Nabil Dirar of Morocco has stepped up and covered on the right side of the defence with aplomb. Perhaps he was found wanting defensively at times against BVB and Olympique Lyonnais, but offensively, the 31-year-old has made significant contributions.

He made the decisive assist in a narrow league victory over Angers last month, bagged the equaliser against Dijon and set up another goal in the 3-1 triumph over Le TFC at the weekend.

Dirar, one of the survivors of the Monaco side that have rise back to the pinnacle of French football after promotion from Ligue 2, will doubtless be tested by the duel threat of Mario Mandzukic and Alex Sandro, but going forward, he could be one to watch.

Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah
Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah

Juve's African trio are unlikely to feature from the off, but any of Kwadwo Asamoah, Medhi Benatia and Mario Lemina could be introduced from the bench.

The first of these has consistently demonstrated his class at fullback this season as he has returned to full fitness, although he's been largely used as Alex Sandro's deputy.

Lemina is regularly included as a substitute option by Massimiliano Allegri -- he made seven outings in April -- although his future remains uncertain.

Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.

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