The Champions League semi-finalists’ list is complete and the stage is set for the draw that will take place in UEFA stronghold of Nyon in Friday.
With no restrictions towards who can play who, this year’s edition of Champions League semi-finals could offer the mouth-watering prospect of Manchester City playing Bayern Munich with Pep Guardiola possibly going against the team he will be leading next season.
The first-drawn team will play as hosts in the first leg and Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Atletico Madrid are eagerly anticipating to learn their faith in the closing stages of Europe’s elite competition.
Semi-final ties will be played on 26/27 April and 3/4 May, while the final showpiece will be staged on 28 May at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan.
With the entire competition coming down to four best teams this season, we take a look at each team and their chances to lift the trophy.
Bavarian giants have reached their fifth straight UEFA Champions League semi-final having dispatched Benfica on a 3-2 aggregate win, following the 2-2 in the return leg.
German champions often gave the impression that they were cruising to desired result during their visit to Portugal and the stalemate might even conceal the true story behind the outcome of the game with Portuguese Eagles.
Fully composed and concentrated on achieving the ultimate goal of reaching the semis, Bayern Munich overcome the patchy form they displayed in the two-legged tie with Juventus when they were minutes away from being knocked out.
Pep Guardiola’s possession-oriented style of play has been diminished by Bayern’s defensive problems as the likes of Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber, Javi Martinez and Mehdi Benatia spent a lot of time in the treatment room this season, but mighty Bavarians rose up to the challenge and overcome the obstacles to book their place in the semis.
Bayern Munich are being made favourites to win the competition at the odds of 11/8 and Pep Guardiola will be keen on leaving the Allianz Arena with a bang.
Heading into the quarter-finals, Real Madrid were seemingly handed the most favourable draw as they got pitted against Wolfsburg, but things turned out to be not as easy as the ten-time European champions would have hoped for.
Zinedine Zidane’s men struggled to find their pace in the first tie and were ultimately given a huge blow with the 2-0 loss in Germany which was a stunning result following the morale boosting 2-1 come-from-behind El Clasico triumph.
Loc Blancos bounced back with the 4-0 thrashing of Eibar before cruising to 3-0 victory in the return leg as Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to singlehandedly lead his team into the semi-finals.
Zinedine Zidane has been given a huge opportunity to fight for a major trophy after only a couple of months at Real Madrid’s helm and UEFA Champions League semi-finals will be the perfect opportunity for the French manager to strengthen his position despite the increasing rumours he will be replaced towards the end of the season.
Real Madrid are highly motivated to win their eleventh European crown and will lack no motivation heading into the closing stage of the competition.
Rojiblancos are the biggest and the most positive surprise of the competition.
Diego Simeone’s men have managed to snap Barcelona’s seven-match winning run against them in all competitions at the most unfortunate time for the Catalans, who are experiencing a serious dip in form that could go out to put their entire season in jeopardy.
Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 win over Barcelona following the 2-1 loss in the first leg was nothing short of magical and it was a scenario you do not get across very often in the world of football.
Determination, commitment, sheer passion and collective spirit that overcame a team with such quality like Barcelona and changed the rules of the game when it comes to fighting against fast, attacking teams such as Luis Enrique’s.
Rojiblancos never gave Barcelona breathing space, they put their stylish game to a halt and controlled the game from start to finish to earn a much-deserved victory.
Atletico will enter the semi-finals as slight underdogs but no one can dare to rule them out of the race for the final showpiece.
English flag is still flying high thanks to Manchester City, who are writing history in the competition with their first-ever Champions League semi-finals.
Manuel Pellegrini has sacrificed it all for the sake of the competition as the Chilean is counting days to his departure from the Etihad stadium. Here to be replaced by Pep Guardiola, Manchester City boss is determined to show the club owners what they will be missing and is ready to go full strength into the closure of the elite competition.
Citizens’ form is far from outstanding, their quarter-final performance against PSG not perfect, but having in mind they got nothing to lose, Manchester City are perhaps the most dangerous side in the semis.
Premier League outfit have struggled defensively for the most part of the season as their key man Vincent Kompany spent a great deal of the season on the sidelines.
The towering Belgian watched from the stands as his team booked their place in the semi-finals and Pellegrini will be delighted to welcome the captain back to the squad for the two legs that lie ahead.
All four teams have their strong and weak points, but one thing is for sure, football fans across the continent will be in for spectacular games that will offer plenty of excitement.
Finally, who do you see lifting the trophy in May?