The UEFA Champions League continues this week with the first leg of the semi-final ties being played Tuesday and Wednesday. The quarterfinal round had some serious drama; from near fights between Man City and Atletico Madrid to Villarreal knocking off heavily favored Bayern Munich to extra time heroics from Real’s man of the moment Karim Benzema. Here’s hoping the penultimate round gives us more of the same!
Manchester City v Real Madrid - Tuesday, 3:00 PM
Two league leaders face off in this match up of European giants. The Champions League trophy has been the ultimate goal for Pep Guardiola’s city since he came to the club in 2016, but they have fallen short every year, including the previous season with a loss to Chelsea in the final. Meanwhile, Madrid have been European Champions 13 times, most recently in 2018. Both teams had a tough quarterfinal round with City holding on to beat a very physical Atletico Madrid, and Real nearly gave up a 2 goal advantage in the 2nd leg vs. Chelsea. Things may start out a bit cagey in the early going, but Man City will be pressing high defensively to gain control at home, and Madrid will be hoping to nick a goal through a red hot Benzema. You won’t want to miss this match up.
Liverpool v Villareal - Wednesday, 3:00 PM
Liverpool may be strong favorites headed into this match up, but so were Juventus and Bayern Munich when they lined up against the Yellow Submarine who subsequently knocked them both out. Liverpool are chasing fellow semi-finalists Manchester City for the Premier League title, so Villarreal may just be able to snatch a win against the potentially distracted Reds. Liverpool are trying to reach their 3rd UCL final in 5 years and many consider them among the best in Europe, but Unai Emery has progressed from 84% of his European knockout ties (2nd best only to Zinedine Zidane at 88%). It’s poised to be a very interesting match up, and if Villarreal can pull off the upset, they’ll reach their first ever Champions League final.