The final four, the fab four, the four football clubs of the apocalypse, the four teams in this year’s Champions League semi-finals!
I went 3 for 4 in my quarter finals predictions, only getting the PSG-City tie wrong (although Real pushed it close). I don’t think it’s so much that City were really impressive as much as PSG are as shit as I have been saying. I’m not trying to diminish City’s achievement, however it was a bit like who wanted to lose the most and the winners were PSG.
Barca-Atletico went pretty much how I had expected, Bayern seemed to make hard work of Benfica and I’m not sure what happened to Real but in was very reminiscent of the Man Utd-Olympiakos tie of a couple of years ago.
Manchester City v Real Madrid
Probably the two worst teams left in the competition managed to draw each other, and although City were the team that everyone else wanted to draw, I would hazard a guess that City would rather have drawn Atletico. The reasons for this being that Ateltico thrive against big teams who like to hold the ball, City wouldn’t necessarily do that and would probably approach the game more like how PSV approached it, they won’t be able to do this against Real.
The first leg will be vital for City, because as Real showed against Wolfsburg, they can be very vulnerable, and unlike Wolfsburg City do have the quality to punish Real for their lacklustreness. If City come out with anything but a two goal lead in the first tie they will not progress, even with a two goal lead it isn’t a guarantee; a clean sheet is a must.
Neither team is really good enough defensively, so in theory it should be two very chance riddled games, which as a viewer can only be a good thing. Both defences are fairly calamitous on their day, but Madrid have a better midfield and attacking front, I can’t really see a situation where they don’t win this tie.
From Real’s perspective they will be giddy about this draw, they have managed to miss the two best teams and have a real shot at the final, which once you’re there you never know (see Chelsea and Liverpool). The only concern for Real will be that first leg against Wolfsburg because you can’t constantly rely on Ronaldo to pull you out the shitter; the other players will need to step up if they want to win it all.
Atletico Madrid v Bayern Munich
Two best teams in the tournament meet up in the semis for what should be the de facto final. Both these teams have got strong chances of winning it all, in fact Bayern were my pre-tournament pick to win and Atletico have been my pick since after the group stages, it is a shame that this couldn’t be a final.
There is something not quite right at Bayern just now, yes they’re in the semis of the Champions League and they’re almost certainly going to win the Bundesliga, however it doesn’t feel quite right and I’m not quite sure what it is. Their tie against Benfica is a perfect example of this, a team they should have blown away, yet they made hard work of it and they were incredibly lucky to go through against Juventus.
Bayern are fragile defensively, they love to control games and have great attacking players. Atletico are incredibly strong defensively, love to let the other team have the ball and can kill you on the counter, the perfect matchup of attack versus defence. It’s the same matchup we had when Atletico played Barcelona and we all know the outcome there.
I doubt these will be good games because Atletico are more than happy sitting and defending all game, plus they’ve got a nastiness about them which breaks up games and generally stops a games flow. I think they will win and will frustrate Bayern over both legs, don’t expect a spectacle.
So I have an all Madrid final for the second time in three years, although it should be noted that the Bayern-Atletico tie is very close and I would expect the winner of that tie to go on and win the final, however once it gets down to the final, the beat and most deserving teams don’t always win.
If you’re interested in seeing my preview for the quarter finals then click this link.