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Champions League

Champions League Semi Final Preview

Four remaining teams, one ultimate goal: the Champions League title. Defending champions Bayern Munich will face Spanish super giants Real Madrid in the semis, while Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea clash against underdogs Atlético Madrid. All four teams dream of lifting the Champions League trophy in Lisbon on May 24th, but who will make it and what do they have to do in the semi-finals to make it there?

Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich

Two of football’s giants will meet again, but this time with different coaches; Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti. They are two of the most well-known and respected coaches and have both won this competition twice as coaches but interestingly enough this will be their first time meeting as opposing managers. The Bavarians seem to be the more complete side. Real has played very efficient counterattacking football throughout the season, but there has been rising concern on whether or not Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, who play on opposite planks, are strong enough in the midfield.

Last season, Bayern were a more practical, sit back and counterattack when necessary kind of team. Guardiola has changed that style, making it more technical and tactical. This way, Bayern will still be able to come out as the better team, but not make Real’s limitations too exposable.

With four of the World’s most renowned players on the flanks; Ronaldo, Bale, Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, an important detail will be the players ability to control the ball in wide positions before cutting inside and shooting with full force. Assuming Guardiola doesn’t play his two fullbacks in midfield like he did against Manchester United, there should be space for the fullbacks on both sides to overlap.

Chelsea vs. Atlético Madrid

A fascinating, tactical battle against two very well organized teams will make this semi-final a must watch. Atlético are very compact, sitting in deep positions before suddenly pressing with extreme intensity once the opposition plays the ball in the midfield. Atlético’s defenders and midfielders will focus on rejecting Chelsea’s constant attacking midfielders, not an easy task to complete.

Chelsea’s style of play will cause Atlético more trouble than those of their other two opponents, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Atlético will have to dominate possession and play more proactively in order to trick Mourinho’s cautious side.

Another huge factor will come into play during this semi-final; Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian goalkeeper is on loan at Atlético from Chelsea. He could be denied the opportunity to play against his parent club because it would require the club to pay a big quantity of money. Chelsea have said it is fully up to Atlético to decide whether or not they may want to play Courtois against them, but this decision could quite possibly make or break the game for Chelsea.

While the semi-finals still haven’t happened yet, I’m far too excited to see how this amazing Champions League season is going to end. I believe Bayern Munich will defeat Real Madrid in a fast-paced, technical battle and land a spot in the final, yet again. On the other hand, I am extremely torn as to how the Chelsea game will play out. The blues always seem to come through no matter what, but a strong, underestimated Atlético squad could take Chelsea completely by storm. Despite all of that I predict it will end up being a Bayern-Chelsea final with a Bayern win. Bayern’s determination to become the first team in 24 years to defend the Champions League title is what will drive them to keep on going and get exactly what they got last year, the treble.