The Final Four Gear Up To Face Off
The Champions League Semi-Final games are officially here and football fans around the world are anticipating the two matches. It is an all English versus Spanish semi-final with both of the first legs being played in England on April 26 and 27. The second legs will conclude the following week.
Manchester City vs. Real Madrid
The main event kicks off this Tuesday and it will see Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City face off against Carlos Ancelotti’s Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium. Both clubs are expected to lift their respective league title trophies, but what side can do the double and claim the European trophy?
Karim Benzema is now the Ballon D’or favorite as he squares off to dual City’s side in the Semi-Finals. After scoring a hat-trick against Chelsea in the Quarter’s and a hat-trick in the Round of 16 against PSG, Benzema has scored a total of seven goals in the last three Champions League matches. In what truly is shaping up to be a Semi-Final tie for the ages, it is tough to differentiate the two squads and what club has the edge going into the first leg.
Manchester City held off Real Madrid’s rival, Atletico Madrid, in the Quarter-Finals where they won just 1-0 on aggregate. Guardiola’s side is firing on all cylinders again but City fans are hoping their legendary coach doesn’t do what he admitted doing in the past Champions League ties in previous years “overthink.”
Real Madrid is Champions League royalty, while City have still yet to hoist the coveted European trophy and truly solidify themselves as a top club in the world. Both the starting XI and coaching matchups will be fun to compare and look at, as it is such a tight matchup.
My Prediction: After a 2-2 draw in both legs, the semi-final will be decided by a penalty shootout (6-5) and it is Manchester City that move on to the Champions League Final in Paris, on May 28.
Liverpool vs. Villareal
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side hosts Unai Emery’s Villareal on Wednesday at historic Anfield. Liverpool has been dominant this season and has shown why they have a chance to go to their third Champions League Final in the last five years. As for Villareal, they haven’t had the most successful season in La Liga but head coach Unai Emery has made it a mission for his club to win the UCL trophy on May 28.
Villareal is coming into the match as the major underdog. However, they have been disciplined when it comes to facing the major clubs of the world under Emery. The squad defeated Manchester United last summer to win the Europa League Trophy.
The Spanish side is used to taking down an English giant to secure a big time trophy. After shocking victories in the ties against Juventus in the Round of 16 and defeating German juggernaut Bayern Munich FC in the Quarters, it is a Cinderella story for the ages for the club that currently sits 7th in La Liga.
Liverpool hasn’t had too much of a test since getting out of the group stages. However, their form dipped in the second leg ties against Inter and Benfica in the Round of 16 and Quarter-Final matches which could give Villareal hope. It will not be easy though, as Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah and Luis Diaz have been on an absolute tear in recent matches.
Anfield will be rocking for the first leg and Liverpool’s attack will be too much for the defensive side of Villareal who will be playing for a draw or a scrap goal in the first leg.
My Prediction: First Leg Liverpool wins 2-0 and the second leg 3-2 . Liverpool advances to face their English foes, Manchester City in the “City of Light”on May 28th.