As always, this season’s Champions League has not disappointed. We’ve seen plenty of goals and more importantly, shocks – not least Bayern Munich’s exit in the quarter-finals. We’re now at the semi-final stage which could throw up the thrilling prospect of an all-Spanish or all-English final in Paris at the end of May!
The first legs take place later this month (26-27th), with the second legs playing out the following week (3rd and 4th May) – and fans are frantically scouring the latest football betting tips to see who will come out on top. Read on, as we take a look at this year’s final four.
Pep Guardiola’s side came oh-so-close last year in Porto, losing out to fellow Premier League opponents Chelsea, and the Champions League trophy remains the only accolade to evade City’s boss since he arrived at the Etihad in 2016.
This season’s campaign hasn’t been entirely plain-sailing, as the Citizens lost two of their group games – both away from home – and only narrowly beat Atlético Madrid in the quarter-finals. However, they have kept four successive clean sheets in the knockout stages – having trounced Sporting 5-0 on aggregate in the last 16.
However, the last time City and Real met in the Champions League, a 4-2 win for the Citizens on aggregate sent them through to the quarter-finals.
They may be the most successful club in the history of the competition, but Real Madrid haven’t reached the final since they won their last title in 2017-18. They suffered a shock exit the following season at the hands of Ajax and haven’t had it easy this time around either.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Blancos came from behind to knock out Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16, and it took extra time in the second leg to dispatch of reigning champions, Chelsea. The French international is currently in the form of his life, having notched hat-tricks against both opponents, and you can guarantee that Benzema will be the star man ahead of their semi-final clashes.
Much like 2018-19 – when Liverpool last won the Champions League – they are chasing the Premier League title (where they finished one point behind City). Similarities could certainly be drawn from both campaigns, and Jürgen Klopp’s side dispatched of Spanish opposition in the semi-finals, before facing English opposition in the final.
Liverpool were unbeaten in the group stages – winning six out of six – and have only suffered one loss in Europe this term, as Inter almost caused a scare in the last-16. Of course, last season. they exited at the quarter-final stage, but have faced more formidable opposition this time around, with Atlético Madrid the only club not to have lifted the trophy.
Reaching only their second Champions League semi-final, nothing should be taken away from Villarreal at this stage. While their form in the group stages left much to be desired, finishing second to Manchester United and winning only half of their games – in the knockout stages, they have defeated both Juventus and Bayern Munich to warrant their place in the final four.
Not only did the Yellow Submarine win the Europa League last year, but coach Unai Emery has a solid record in Europe – albeit in the continent’s secondary competition. While Villarreal are the least fancied side left in the competition, in knockout football, anything can happen!