All four squads know their opponents for the semifinals in the Champions League. All four squads are the winners of the group stages, and all four are looking to make history in the next two months.
Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich
The first matchup is a rematch of the semifinal clash of 2012. In 2012, we saw a great match between both squads over two legs. It was Bayern Munich who prevailed through Manuel Neur’s heroics in the penalty shootout stuffing Ronaldo and Kaka’s penalty attempts. Now it is 2014, and they meet again. Madrid survived a Dortmund rally to squeak by 3-2 to the next round, and make it to yet another semifinal. Lately, Madrid does not look strong on defense as they did at the beginning of the year. They will need to change that if they want to compete. The defense is the least of their concerns as they have a much bigger problem. Cristiano Ronaldo is the problem. He will most likely miss the 1st leg due to injury. The Portuguese captain received a knock on his hamstring that could keep him out for 2-3 weeks. This is a big blow to Real Madrid. In their last meeting, it was Ronaldo who scored two goals in the second leg to help Real Madrid get to the penalty shootout.
With Ronaldo most likely out for this clash, look for Real Madrid to put the weight of the pressure on their 100 million euro man Gareth Bale. Gareth Bale will have to step up, and possibly take over the scoring duties for Madrid. On the other side, stands Bayern Munich. Bayern Munich relatively brushed Manchester United off in the previous stage of the competition. With their league title won, Munich has their entire focus on the Champions League. Munich will come into this match with the expected lineup. Robben and Ribery will attack the Madrid flanks, while the Bavarians look to keep possession. They hope to be successful as they were in 2012. The Champions League brings the best match ups. Both sides have world star players, both have top managers, and both are historically titans of football.
The match kicks off April 23rd.
Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid
Diego Simeone and Jose Mourinho meet again. The last time these two met, Atletico conquered Mourinho’s men at the Bernabeu for the Copa Del Rey. That match eventually led to Real Madrid ending their 2013 season trophyless, and the sacking of Mourinho. Now Jose Mourinho faces his former cross town rival with Chelsea as his squad. Chelsea overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat Paris St. Germain by away goals. The Blues are flying high, and are in the mix to win the premier league. But the opposition may be the toughest defensive team in Europe. Diego Simeone’s men created a bit of history of their own by beating Barcelona. Atletico finally made the semifinal of the Champions League. It’s the first time they have accomplished this feat, and it wasn’t easy. Atletico shut out the mighty Barcelona and a red hot Messi. Atletico arguably faced the toughest competition in the quarter finals, and succeeded by sticking to their bread and butter, defense is how Atletico plays. Atletico rarely gives up sloppy goals due to their compactness, and discipline. To top it all off, Atletico gets their star hit man Diego Costa back from injury. Not many teams in Europe and Spain have been able to solve the Rubik’s cube that is Atletico’s defense, but Chelsea may be the squad that can solve the puzzle. Chelsea has enough quality to stretch teams out, but it will be harder against Atletico due to the fact that their superstar Eden Hazard may be out with a calf injury. Jose Mourinho’s tactics saved Chelsea after Eden Hazard came down with injury. Can he do it again? Can other players such as Willian, Andre Schurrle, and Samuel Eto’o answer the call, or will it be another history making moment for Atletico? We shall find out on April 22nd.
This will be a semifinal for the ages. All four of these squads can create history this year. Chelsea’s record is for their charismatic manager Jose Mourinho. He can become the only manager in the history of football to win three champions league crowns with three different squads. Bayern Munich looks to be the first squad to successfully defend their crown in the UEFA Champions League era. Atletico looks to win their first ever European crown and finally become the third Spanish club to do so. Real Madrid is of course still chasing that prestigious 10th European crown “La Decima.” We can’t wait to see the finest squads in the world fight for the chance at the record books.
Matches kick off April 22 & 23.