As this year’s UEFA Champions League gradually gets close, after two exciting semifinal first leg clashes which saw Manchester City holding Spanish giant, Real Madrid to a goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium. And Atlético Madrid continued their brilliant run with a 1-0 win over Bayern Munich at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, the second leg will definitely decide which teams book their flight to Milan on May 28.
REAL MADRID vs MANCHESTER CITY
The first semifinal match kept lovers of the competition at the edge of their seat as the Citizens held their own with some attacking football against the much illustrious side of the Los Blancos.
It was a night that could have seen any of the two teams shatter some of the existing goal records if they had converted the numerous chances that came their way. Real Madrid were the main culprits as they wasted so many begging opportunities, notably, Krim Benzema’s early chances in the first half, Gareth Bale’s poor volley in front of goal and Pepe’s glorious miss that hit City goalkeeper, Joe Harte in the last minute of the match.
Manchester City also had the opportunity to open the floodgates but due to poor finishing from the likes of Sergio Agüero, Kelvin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, the team failed to flourish in style.
It is quite obvious that the second leg at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium next week Wednesday will determine the fate of the two teams, the momentum stands in favor of the Galaticos considering the fact that they will be playing in front of their vociferous home crowd.
There is no doubt that playing at home often counts against away teams that play better football and takes advantage of their goal scoring opportunity; a situation which could give City an element of hope to overcome Real Madrid.
Tactically and technically, both teams have what it takes to pull the big strings but the, Los Blancos appear to have a manager in Zinedine Zidane, who has won the competition with the club and has remolded the team to play at their highest level compared to when former boss, Rafael Benítez was in charge.
Zidane has been able to offer more freedom to the tournament’s highest goal scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo which has seen him fire from all cylinders, create a solid defense with the pair of Pepe and Sergio Ramos and allowed Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema to attack from all angles of the pitch.
Meanwhile, Manchester City coach, Manuel Pellegrini may have lost the Premier League title and has one last chance of winning a title this season to prove his cynics wrong considering the fact that he’ll be leaving the club this summer.
With the Champions League is his last straw, Pellegrini will be counting on Sergio Agüero, Yaya Touré, Kelechi Iheanacho, Kelvin De Bruyne, David Silva and Joe Harte to cause blackout in the city of Madrid.
Statistically, Real are yet to lose at home and may continue in that same form against Manchester City except if the impossible happens on May 4.
BAYERN MUNICH vs ATLETICO MADRID
Atlético Madrid showed no sign of naïveté as they overcame an experienced Bayern Munich side 1-0 at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in the first leg semifinal, to take a one goal slim advantage to the Allianz Arena on Tuesday, May 3.
It was an encounter that gave so much to cherish, starting with the physical nature of the Atlético players against Bayern.
The second leg is expected to be fierce at the Allianz Arena as the host would be hoping to avoid being eliminated in the semifinal for the third time under Guardiola since 2013.
This will be Guardiola’s last season with the Bavarians and he knows that leaving the club with the Champions League title would be a memory to behold. However, to achieve that, he must devise another method to conquer a cautious and defensive side like Atlético, who knows that a draw would be the best result.
At home, Bayern Munich have appeared suspicious defensively regardless of the fact that they have scored more goals against teams like Arsenal and Juventus. The host will be counting on the services of Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski, Arturo Vidal, Frank Ribery and Douglas Costa to cause the Atlético defenders a sleepless night while the away team will be relying on Antoine Griezmann, Fernando Torres, Koke and Diego Godin.
Victory songs will definitely be on the lips of all the four teams as they compete for the final tickets to Milan, May 28, 2016.