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Preview: Champions League Semi-Finals

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Preview: Champions League Semi-Finals

The Champions League returns this week with the first legs of the semi-finals taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday. Real Madrid, Chelsea, PSG, and Man City will all be fighting for a place in the Champions League Final in May. As we enter the final stages of Europe’s most esteemed club competition, drama is all but guaranteed.

With the recent introduction of plans for a European Super League, followed by their hasty abandonment after widespread outrage and protest, all eyes will be on the Champions League to prove its worth as the ideal European club competition. Such context only adds to the excitement that precedes these semi-finals, with both pride and silverware on the line for some of the continent’s top clubs.

So who will prevail in the fight to reach the final? Which teams will miss out on the chance for European glory? We preview the upcoming Champions League Semi-Finals.

 

Chelsea vs. Real Madrid

First Leg: Tuesday 27th April, 8:00pm kick-off – Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, Madrid

Second Leg: Wednesday 5th May, 8:00pm kick-off – Stamford Bridge, London

Serial Champions League winners Real Madrid take on underdogs Chelsea in this mouth-watering semi-final clash. Real Madrid will be looking to win the trophy for a record 14th time, having last won the competition in 2018. On that occasion they beat Liverpool 3-1 in the final, a feat they repeated in this year’s quarter-finals when they knocked Jurgen Klopp’s men out of the competition once again. The Spanish giants will hope this is a good omen of further European glory to come.

On the other hand, Chelsea have won the competition just once, back in 2012. They have impressed in this year’s contest, knocking out Real’s local rivals Atletico Madrid and easing past Porto en route to the semi-finals. If they were to win this year it would certainly be classed as an upset given their fellow semi-finalists, but much stranger things have happened in this competition.

 

Form Guide

Real Madrid come into these fixtures in good form, having been unbeaten in all competitions since January. They recently won a pivotal match against Barcelona to give them belief in the La Liga title race, although their league form has stalled somewhat since with two goalless draws in their last 3 games. They will need to ensure they get back into their goalscoring form if they are to breach a stubborn Chelsea defence.

Chelsea also come into the tie in good form, having recently beaten Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals. They currently sit 4th in the Premier League table and have the second-best defensive record in the league. However, they have had their blips, such as their recent humbling at the hands of West Brom and their quarter-final second-leg defeat against Porto in the last round.

 

Key players

Former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been in inspired form for Real Madrid this season and hasn’t conceded in his last four games. He played a major part in keeping Liverpool from scoring in Real’s quarter-final at Anfield. In the continued absence of Sergio Ramos, the return of Raphael Varane is sure to be welcomed by Zinedine Zidane. The other big team news coming from the Real Madrid camp is that Eden Hazard is fit to play against his former club.

For Chelsea, now would be a good time for big-money summer signing Timo Werner to get into goalscoring form. Their most important asset is likely to be their solid defensive set up, with Thiago Silva impressing at the back for the Blues this season. Mason Mount has also been in excellent form for Thomas Tuchel’s men and will no doubt be a key player.

This fixture is shaping up to be a blockbuster Champions League semi-final.

 

Potential Line-ups

Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Militão, Nacho; Casemiro, Kroos, Modrić, Vinícius Jr, Benzema, Asensio.

Chelsea: Mendy; James, Azpilicueta, Silva, Rüdiger, Chilwell; Jorginho, Kanté; Mount, Havertz, Werner.

 

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Manchester City

First Leg: Wednesday 28th April, 8:00pm kick-off – Parc des Princes, Paris

Second Leg: Tuesday 4th May, 8:00pm kick-off – The Etihad Stadium, Manchester

On paper, this tie looks like one of the most exciting match ups of this season’s Champions League campaign. Both PSG and Man City have experienced domestic success in recent years, but neither have ever won the Champions League. This season represents a good chance for either side to rectify this, although competition is as tough as ever.

Man City and PSG were two of the favourites coming into the competition, with PSG having been beaten in last year’s final by Bayern Munich. Man City are long overdue some European success after a series of unexpected losses in the competition, having been knocked out by Lyon, Tottenham, and Liverpool in recent seasons.

 

Form Guide

PSG have impressed in all competitions recently, progressing in both the French Cup and the Champions League. Their win on away goals against reigning European champions Bayern Munich was particularly impressive. They do however have one eye on the league, where they sit second and are embroiled in a thrilling title race against Lille and Monaco. They will need all of their focus to be on the upcoming fixture against City if they are to progress to the final.

Man City are, as usual, in formidable form. They won their first major silverware of the season at the weekend by beating Tottenham in the League Cup final. They are comfortably top of the Premier League, requiring just two more wins from their remaining five games to secure the title. Any hopes of a famous quadruple were quashed however with their recent FA Cup semi-final defeat to fellow Champions League semi-finalists Chelsea. Nevertheless, Guardiola’s men will be full of confidence going into this fixture.

 

Key Players

PSG’s big stars need little in the way of introduction. The attacking trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria are clearly the French side’s main weapons. Mbappe particularly impressed in previous wins over Bayern Munich and Barcelona, and the French forward should be fit again after an injury scare at the weekend. Elsewhere in the squad, Idrissa Gueye could play a key role in breaking up City’s control of the midfield.

Manchester City’s line-up can be tricky to predict, but one player who can be sure of his place is Ruben Dias. The Portuguese centre half has been impervious at the back for City this season, but facing PSG’s front line will be his toughest test yet. Similarly, Kevin De Bruyne should be a nailed-on starter and can be expected to be heavily involved if City are to make it to the Champions League final for the first time.

This game has the potential to be a Champions League semi-final for the ages.

 

Potential line-ups

PSG: Navas; Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo; Gueye, Paredes; Di María, Verratti, Neymar; Mbappé

Man. City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo; Rodri, Gündoğan; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden; Bernardo Silva

 

We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Preview: Champions League Semi-Finals’. Which two teams do you think will make it to the Champions League final? Let us know!

 

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Daisy is currently a final-year student at Newcastle University, where she is studying Politics at an undergraduate level and is on the committee of the Non-League Football Society. You can contact her at daisyruddock@hotmail.co.uk.

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