Champions league Semifinals preview
The semifinals are set. four teams left. Two from Madrid, one from Italy, and one from France. Who will be crowned the champions of Europe?
It was an extremely exciting quarterfinals stage in the UEFA champions league, higlighted by Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo scoring five goals in two legs to lead Real to a 6–3 victory on aggregate over German powerhouses Bayern Munich. Ronaldo is the first player ever to score 100 goals in UEFA champions league competition.
Juventus stunned Leo Messi and Barcelona by taking down the Spanish side 3–0 on aggregate, backed by two goals in the first leg from Argentinian Paulo Dybala.
Atletico Madrid just slipped by Defending English premier champs Leicester City, 2–1 on aggregate.
And lastly, Dortmund and Monaco faced off in a leg that many people didn’t really know who would come out on top. A young Monaco squad were victorious, winning 6–2 on aggregate and showing they are a serious goal scoring threat.
That sets up this week’s first leg of the Champions league semifinals, where It will be the battle of the Madrids, and a square off between Juventus and Monaco.
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid
It will be a familiar foe for both sides, who are facing off for the seventh time in Champions league play. Real Madrid beat Atletico in the 2014, and 2016 Champions league finals, and will look to become the first team ever to win back to back Champions league titles. For Atletico, it’s a road they don’t want to go down once again. Their club neighbors have ended their Champions league journey in the last three seasons.
For the Real Madrid side, this is familiar territory for the defending champs. this is their seventh UEFA Champions League semi-final, a competition record. It will be their 12th semi-final appearance in total, also a record, one more than FC Barcelona. Real has won a record 11 titles in UEFA champions league. Cristiano Ronaldo will look to continue his dominant play up front. The Portugese international carried his team into the semi finals, scoring five of Real’s six goals in Quarterfinal play. They have looked unbeatable so far in this year’s champions league, not losing a game to this point in competition. When Real are at home at the Bernabeau, they have looked unstoppable, winning their last 30 of 35 home games in champions league competition. They will be without Welshmen Gareth Bale, who is out with an ankle injury. It’s expected that Spaniard Isco will take the field in Bale’s place.
For Atletico, it’s their third Champions league semifinal in just four years. Antoine Griezmann will look to continue his electric play up front. The French international has scored 60 goals in 108 appearances for Madrid, including the deciding goal in the first leg against Leicester City in the quarterfinals. Madrid is unbeaten in all five home European cup semifinals, but on the road — not so much. They Have a 1 and 3 record on the road, where they will be the away side in the first leg at Real. Atletico keeper Jan Oblak has kept nine clean sheets in the last 13 games, surrendering just four goals in that span, and will look to keep Ronaldo at bay.
The first leg will be on Tuesday at 11:45 PT at the Bernabeu.
Juventus And Monaco
Juventus heads into this tilt with the advantage, having never lost to a French side in 11 match-ups. AS Monaco have lost to Juventus twice in Champions league play. Juventus will look to advance to their second final in the last three seasons of Champions league play.
For Juventus, they have arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Italian Gigi Buffon. This is only their second semi final appearance since 2003, but both of those appearances have came in the last three years, most recently 2015 when they beat Real Madrid 3–2 on aggregate to advance to the final. The Italian side is yet to concede a goal in four knockout matches, keeping Barcelona scoreless in the quarterfinals. Juve has won 5, drawed 3, and lost 5 in their last 13 appearances on the road against a French squad, but have lost just once in their last five visits. Argentinian Paulo Dybala will look to continue his goal scoring tear, where he’s scored 40 goals for Juve across all competitions this season. Juventus is a solid team from back to front, with the ability to score goals and keep opposing teams from scoring, thanks to a very strong defense and a world class goalkeeper in Buffon. At home, the Italians have won 33 straight games in Serie A play, and haven’t lost a Champions league match since 2013 at the Juventus stadium, where they were defeated by Bayern.
Monaco will make their fourth European cup semifinal appearance, and first since 2004, where they defeated English powerhouse Chelsea 5–3 on aggregate. They have never won an away match in the European cup, so they will look to get a big win at home in the first leg on Wednesday. Their record has been outstanding so far in this years competition, winning six of their seven matches at the Stade Louis, except for a draw with Leverkusen back in the group stage. Monaco has netted 16 goals on home turf in those seven fixtures. The French side has won 13 straight games at home, and have came out victorious in their last 13 of 15 games. Watch out for French teenager Kylian Mbappé. He’s buried 18 goals in his last 18 appearances For Monaco, all at the tender age of 18. The youngster scored three of Monaco’s six goals in quarterfinal play against Dortmund. Colombian Radamel Falcao and Mbappe have combined for an astounding 52 goals across all competitions for the French powerhouse. Brazilian midfielder Fabinho is back for Monaco, after serving a one match ban. Monaco has lost just once this season with him on the field.
the fire power of Mbappe and Falcao should play a vital role in the outcome for the French side, and it will be interesting to see how they fare against a very solid Juve defense.
Kickoff for the first leg will be at 1145 PT on Wednesday at the Stade Louis in Monaco.