After what I consider to be one of the most exciting quarter final stages in the history of the Champions League, we now know who the four teams who will battle it out for the glory of lifting the greatest prize in club football.
My predictions for the quarter finals resulted in me getting three out of four correct outcomes, with the only one which I got wrong being the Barca-Atletico matchup, which I believed to be the tightest of the four ties. I think that most people will agree that we probably got the four best teams in the semi-finals and that once again will lead to exciting tense and tight games between four of the best teams in Europe.
Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
It’s probably what most people wanted the final to be, I would say that these are the two best teams in the competition from the start and therefore are the two best teams left in the competition. Real were the team I tipped at the start of the season to go all the way and lift the title, and after moving past Borussia Dortmund in the last round my tip still looks pretty decent. The major concern that I have about Real is that they still aren’t a good defensive team, something that they will need to be against the machine that is Bayern Munich, and probably more concerning than that is there blatant over reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo to become a special team. It was clear against Dortmund in the second leg of their tie where Real, after convincingly beating Dortmund 3-0 at home, slumped over the line in unconvincing fashion because of their defensive frailties and the lack of Ronaldo in the team. If Aubameyang puts away his golden chance then maybe I’m sitting talking about this tie being a repeat of last year’s final, instead of what it is. Real will have to be more vigilant if they are to make it to the final, because Bayern will not allow them to get away with the things Dortmund did.
Bayern find themselves in an interesting position also, I think almost everyone will agree in unison that Bayern Munich are the best team in Europe, however just because you are the best team in Europe, it doesn’t mean that you will win the Champions League. Bayern for 147 minutes of football got out thought by what has been a woefully underperforming Manchester United team, and it wasn’t until Utd let their guard down at 1-0 that Bayern finally got into the match and took it by the scruff of the neck. Now I’m not going to go in to what Utd did wrong in the match or Patrice Evra’s lack of interest in actually defending, because we could be here all day, but needless to say Bayern got pretty lucky in the end against Utd, despite the fact that they were the better team. That is the concern with Bayern, since winning the Bundesliga they have put in average performance after average performance, losing their last two games in the Bundesliga (with a particularly embarrassing 3-0 home defeat to Dortmund, when Bayern had a full team out), add onto that the fact that no team has ever retained the Champions League, and the omens aren’t great for Bayern going forward.
As I have said, I think we have the two best teams in the competition meeting each other here and I think it will be a cracking tie. The team I think will come out of this tie is Real Madrid, quite simply because I think Bayern have lost that little edge since winning the Bundesliga, and that has been evident in their past few games. It is really hard to go from a leisurely pace to lightning speed, and because of that and a man possessed in Cristiano Ronaldo, I think Real will take the final step needed to make it to Lisbon.
Atletico Madrid v Chelsea
This is an intriguing tie because it is very hard to call. Atletico are a team which I doubt anyone had making it this far, but in this season of greatness for the second Madrid team anything seems possible. In what could symbolically be seen as a changing of the guard, Atletico deservedly went through against an underwhelming Barcelona. The major question mark is will it all be too much for Atletico? They are challenging for La Liga and the Champions League, something that Atletico aren’t used to. Will they sink or will they swim? Are they too high up the mountain and their nose is starting to bleed? It’s hard to go against Atletico in either competition, it just feels like there is something special happening there and there is nothing harder to stop than momentum.
However if there is one thing that Chelsea are good at, it is stopping momentum. Chelsea are easily the most negative team out of the four, and they also have the best defence. Chelsea’s lack of strikers really concerns me, as does their lack of midfield options (with both Matic and Salah unavailable), but tactically this is a team which can cause problems. I think if you look at how Chelsea played against PSG in the last round, you can see exactly what I mean; in the first leg they didn’t show up and allowed PSG to hang about like a bad smell, in the second leg they outplayed PSG like I expected them to do over the tie but only managed to score two goals, with the winner coming very late on. It wouldn’t really shock me if Chelsea went on and won the competition because they are a stuffy team who could stifle anyone, but are they good enough going forward to win it? I’m not so sure.
You can maybe tell from my comments that I think Atletico are the team which will progress to the final from this tie. It feels like they have too much momentum and have the confidence of a team which is on to something special. What I will say is that quite surprisingly I think that the winner of this tie will probably go on and win the competition. That may seem odd considering that I think that Bayern and Real are better teams, but I just get the feeling that both Atletico and Chelsea are built to play against both Bayern and Real, so I think the winner will come from this semi.
If things go like I think then it will be an all Madrid final, although there are no certainties in these semi-finals, and that is what makes this season’s Champions League so exciting. Personally I can’t wait! So leave a comment on who you think will be making the trip to Lisbon. Plus don’t forget you can find all the latest bm23sportsreviews posts on Facebook and Twitter.