Today the draw for the Champions League and my word is it mouth-watering. With each team having their own incentive to win the most prized trophy in European football, expect some good matches and plenty of drama. With two of the last Champions League winners from the last 3 years, we could potentially see a repeat of the 2012 final and we all know how that ended, with Bayern Munich cruelly being beaten at home and the two have been bitter towards each other since. Another final could be an all Spanish final with the Whites of Madrid and the Red and Whites of Madrid. Both clubs are still at it against Barcelona for the La Liga crown and if they both made the final, it would showcase the Madrid derby on the biggest stage of them all; the Champions League final.
Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid
This is definitely not as exciting as opposed to the other tie, but will bring drama as well as goals. Atletico Madrid are currently first in La Liga with 79 points and 32 games to play, they are 1 point ahead of second placed Barcelona and 3 points clear of their cross town rivals Real. When Atletico Madrid sold talisman Radamel Falcao to newly promoted Ligue 1 side AS Monaco for £50m and many wondered how they were going to do without the prolific Colombian. They don’t seem to be missing all that much as his departure as Brazil-born Spanish striker Diego Costa has relished and has established himself as a starter and is leading the great attacking line A.Madrid have. Atleti manager Diego Simeone having already won an European trophy with The Reds and Whites in the Europa League in 2012, the Argentine will be looking to do one better and win the Champions League.
Their last meeting, which was in the UEFA Super Cup, ended in a 4-1 Chelsea thrashing with Falcao stealing the show with a first half hatrick and Miranda scoring before new signing from Bolton Wanderers Gary Cahill scored the one consolation goal. Although now Chelsea have the special one back and Jose has one quite special team with players like Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle and Samuel Eto’o, who is very experienced in the Champions League, having won it 3 times, twice with Barcelona and once with Inter Milan. A Madrid have the one player Jose Mourinho wishes he had however, a centre forward who is good enough for the portuguese’s standards in Costa. Chelsea have been linked with Costa quite heavily and there was news that he had actually agreed a pre-contract with the Blues.
In the quarter-finals, Chelsea had been drawn with PSG, a tie that many thought, including myself, would see the French champions go through. Chelsea lost the first leg 3-1 in Paris, although they did get an away goal via a Frank Lampard penalty after PSG captain Thiago Silva committed a tackle on a Chelsea player. This meant Jose’s men would need to score 2 goals at home and keep a clean sheet and that is exactly what they did, with Schurrle opening the scoring in the 32nd minute, before substitute Demba Ba scored 3 minutes from time and prompted Mourinho to do a crazy touch-line celebration – running the length of the pitch, something which is somewhat a familiar occurrence with Jose. Atletico Madrid’s way into semis was slightly easier, they faced domestic rivals Barcelona and in the first leg at the Nou Camp, the Spanish Champions were held to a 1-1 draw with a goal from Diego before Neymar levelled the scores for Barca but they got the vital away goal as in the 2nd leg, Koke scored in the 6th minute of time to give Atleti a 2-1 lead in aggregate and see the La Liga leaders through onto the next round.
This tie will be close and is very hard to call, but I think Chelsea may just about edge them although his lack of a ‘proper striker’ could prove to be fatal to their European hopes.
Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich
This is the tie everyone was hoping would be this year’s final but a semi final between the two is just as good. Both teams have been best teams in the competition, shipping only one lost between them in the Champions League, Bayern Munich losing to Manchester City 3-2 in the group stages. Real Madrid are third in La Liga, three points off the pace and look the least likely to win the title although have shipped the 2nd most goals in the league with 90, Barcelona having scored 92. Real Madrid will be looking to be the first team to win 10 European trophies, yet breaking another record for the All-Whites. Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga with 7 games to go, the quickest any team has ever won the Bundesliga before. They won the league without losing a game, looking to emulate Arsene Wenger’s invincibles of 2004 but recently lost only their 3rd match this season against Augsburg 1-0, ending their 53 game unbeaten run, last being beaten in the league by Bayer Leverkusen in October 2012. Bayern Munich are aiming to be the first team in the Champions League era to successfully defend their Champions League and be the first team to win the Champions League with back to back titles.
Both teams are strong in every position of the pitch, from their goal stoppers to their goal scorers. Real Madrid have Iker Casillas in-goal, who seems to only play in the Champions League and Copa Del Rey, but puts in a good performance each time he is between the Madrid sticks. They have the scary partnership of Pepe and Sergio Ramos, both are very aggressive and are prone to a card, something that Bayern may choose to exploit. Their midfield is a good mix of creativity and good defensive qualities in former Spurs man Luka Modric and veteran Xabi Alonso. They also have young talent such as Isco and illarramendi in the middle of the park. Up front of course they have the terrifying trio ‘BBC’ Bale, Benzema and Cristiano. Bayern Munich have Manuel Neuer, undisputedly the best goalkeeper in the world, along with Dante and Jermone Boateng in the heart of the defence, and the versatile Phillip Lahm and Rafinha on their flank. Their midfield is their most impressive aspect of the powerhouse that is Bayern, having the experienced Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez sitting in front of the defence and having one of the best young players around in Mario Gòtze, whom they acquired from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. Bayern have their own terrifying trio in Ribery, Robben and Mario Mandzukic.
Real Madrid faced stiff opposition in the last round as they faced Borussia Dortmund, the same team the faced in the semi finals last year although this team, Real emerged as the winner. They had all but won the tie in the first leg, winning at home 3-0, the goals coming from Bale, Isco and Ronaldo. Dortmund showed some fight back though, going 2-0 up in the 2nd leg and needing only one more goal to go through, Mkhitaryan missed 3 good chances to score, so Real went through on a 3-2 aggregate score, despite the Dortmund scare. Bayern Munich were drawn with Manchester United, the most one-sided tie in the whole stage, In the first leg at Old Trafford, the Inter milan-bound Vidic headed in a set piece from a corner before Schweinsteiger equalised for the European Champions, leaving the first leg 1-1. In Germany, Manchester United held the Bayern pressure until Patrice Evra scored a wonder goal from United, giving Manchester United fans hope… for 22 seconds.Mandzukic scored for Bayern, then Muller scored, and Robben put the final nail in the coffin, doing his trademark move of running down the right-hand side, cutting in into his left and lashing the ball into the net. Bayern went though on a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.
I am truly on the fence on this, i have no clue who could go though but I would love to see Madrid win their 10th European trophy.