UEFA Champions League S-F Preview

And Then There Were Four

The UEFA Champions League returns with some cracking football in store as teams battle over two legs looking to book their place in the final and get closer to lifting the prestigious trophy with the big ears. Reigning European champions Real Madrid will play two-time winners Juventus for the second year running while Pep Guardiola will attempt to mastermind victory for Bayern Munich against his former club Barcelona in the biggest tie of the two.

Tuesday, 05 May 2015 

Juventus 19/10 | Draw 22/10 | Real Madrid 29/20
In terms of recent European pedigree there is no comparison between these two teams. While Juventus are in their first semi-final since 2003, Real Madrid are in the last four for the fifth consecutive season. To be brutal, this is Real Madrid’s tournament and Juventus are just guests here. The Italian champions and runaway Serie A leaders have conceded just five goals in their 10 Champions League fixtures this season, and held Monaco scoreless through both legs of a tightly contested quarter-final where they won 1-0 on aggregate. Juventus do not have the plethora of talent and depth that Madrid have at hand, but they have good players working in a system that suits them very well. Up front they also have two players who can do Madrid damage in Carlos Tevez and a man with a point to prove, Bernabeu reject Alvaro Morata. But their stout defence will be tested by the high-paced attack of Madrid’s front trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema – the latter duo hoping to recover from injury. And Andrea Pirlo’s age may finally show when he faces the young legs of James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos, and Isco in midfield. Real qualified for the last four of Europe's elite club competition after defeating their derby rivals Atletico Madrid 1-0 on aggregate. The two sides were separated by on-loan Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez's goal in the final stages of the second leg. Los Blancos have had some rough injury luck in this half of the season, but they have the depth and quality to press on through it. Madrid are not quite as invincible as they were a year ago when they cruised to their 10th Champions League title, but they are still head and shoulders above their opponents. Don’t be excited by Juventus’ value, Madrid are far too good for them even on their off day. Stack your money on the Spanish giants to beat the poor Old Lady in both legs and book their spot in the final.

Wednesday, 06 May 2015

Barcelona 19/20 | Draw 26/10 | Bayern Munich 11/4
This matchup looks to be a thrilling display of passion, passing, possession, attacking skill and flair. Barcelona are more balanced and complete than they've been in a few years, with their All-Star attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez making life insanely difficult for opposing defences in Spain and Europe, and their defence and midfield are performing at high levels as well. They swept Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City away with ease in the knockout rounds but will be up against fierce opponents in Bayern Munich. The Bundesliga champions appeared out for the count after a 3-1 first-leg defeat to Porto in the quarter-finals amid a flurry of injuries. But the mood around the Allianz Arena has been dramatically transformed. Bayern blasted the Portuguese champions 6-1 in the return in Munich and they now have a chance of getting Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger back available for their fourth straight semi-final appearance. Beating Barcelona at the Camp Nou will be a difficult challenge given the fact that they are unbeaten there in their last 10 games in the competition where they’ve won nine times. Although, the last team to beat them on their turf in the Champions League was Bayern Munich, who won 3-0 in 2013. The Catalans will be motivated to get their revenge this time and come into the clash in fantastic form – unbeaten in their last 14 games with 13 wins. Barcelona’s attack is unmatched anywhere in the world, with South America’s cream of the crop all playing at the top of their games individually and collectively. Simply stopping them will be a tough ask for any team, let alone a Bayern defence that can be vulnerable, particularly on the break. Back the Catalan giants to oust their opponents in this match which would likely lead to them booking a place in the final.

The double works out to 37/10! Get on! 

Written by Chadley Nagel

Chad's Picks
Real Madrid WIN 29/20
Barcelona WIN 19/20