Following on from last weeks blog previewing the Champions League semi finals:-
With the second legs this coming week, here is my take:-
Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid – Tuesday 3rd May
It literally was the ‘Immovable Object’ v the ‘Irresistible Force’ at the Vicente Calderon last Wednesday. The Spanish side started strong and got their reward with a superb individual goal from Saul Niguez. Bayern then took over (in possession terms 74% for the game). They created good chances but the Atletico defence was defiant and even when they got past them the positioning and handling of their goalkeeper Jan Oblak was outstanding and thwarted all efforts. Things could have been worse for the German visitors as the hosts (who do have style when needed to go with their undoubted substance) carved out a brilliant chance in the second half, but Fernando Torres could only hit the post. 2-0 against Simeone’s crack team may well have meant curtains, but 1-0 gives the German Champions elect ample opportunity to get back into the tie and overturn the deficit, they most definitely have the quality to do so. The problem they have is if they do concede at home they will need at least 3 goals and managing that against this Madrid team will mean they more than deserve their place in the final.
Real Madrid v Manchester City – Wed 4th May
Maybe it was a dour first leg if you had to sit through it, but stakes were high for both teams – one a novice who some say have underachieved in their Champions League forays so far, the other a veteran who after 10 wins, it could easily be argued covet this competition even more than their domestic title. To be fair the 0-0 probably suits both teams looking at the circumstances. Manchester City did not want to concede and were thankful for some Joe Hart heroics and Real came away unscathed, without their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo and then taking their English opponents back to the Bernabeu where they are 18-0 in this seasons Champions League. Both sides will think they have a great chance to go through, if you had said to City play one match where you need a score draw or win to get to the final they would have taken that big time in August and if you said to Real win a home match and you get to the final they would have taken that too. For me its 60-40 Real, and that’s with Ronaldo and Benzema being fit for the second leg (I said the in previous blog above firepower would give Los Blancos the edge) otherwise it will be closer especially as the away goal is in the English sides favour and they can use this carrot to get into the minds of the hosts and their fans especially as the Spanish giants have failed in 4 of their previous 5 semi-finals in this tournament. Tactics and taking your chances are going to make a huge difference. So can Manuel Pellegrini get his revenge on Florentino Perez? Come Wednesday night we will know one way of another.
Roll on this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, with both ties tantalisingly poised. We may well end up with a final between two teams who have won the European Cup 15 (yes 15!!!!!!!) times between them, however Milan in late May could host a finale where a new name will be acclaimed as Kings of Europe.
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ps quick note – this is actually BLOG 150 – hope you are enjoying my work – there is a lot more to come.