Champions League Preview Semi Finals
By Visesh Rathi
Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid
It is not el Clasico that the fans so desperately crave. But it is no less than a clasico either as this is a Madrid derby. The last three seasons have seen Real get the better off their city rival in the competition, and twice in the finals. But semi finals are contested in two legs and that will play a huge role in the outcome of the game. Recent history suggests Real are the better team between these two sides and recent history also suggests that no team has won the completion consecutively. History might be changed here as another final loss to their city rivals will be fresh in Atletico’s mind. Real have not particularly been good in keeping clean sheets this season and were a little lucky against Bayern in the quarters. But Real possess a deadly attack with a combative midfield which has goaded them to the top of the charts so far. Their attacking talent has overshadowed their defensive frailties this season. Atletico on the other hand base their game plan by prioritizing defense. Containing Ronaldo and Co. might be tough but the Atleti defense should be well equipped to thwart them. Niguez and Griezmann will be needed to combine and make the most of Real’s defensive crisis if they are to extract any sweet revenge over their rivals. Expect a low scoring first leg with Atletico focusing on keeping Real at bay while trying to poach on counter attack while Ronaldo to barrage the defense with help from Modric and Isco and take something to the next leg. The second leg at the Calderon might see a more lively Atleti side but again Real’s attack will trouble them, especially if the first game does not go as per their plan.
Our Prediction: History to repeat itself, Real with just a little edge over their rivals will try and retain the trophy in the finals.
Monaco vs. Juventus
This is not a derby. This is not seeped in history and none will have any other motivation to beat the other, other than to get their hands on the most coveted European Trophy. Yet this in itself looks a classic, a veteran Juventus defense against an energetic Monaco attack. Juventus have the edge here; they have beaten Barcelona to come here. Monaco though has upset the likes of Manchester City, Leverkusen and Dortmund to reach this stage. They have already won the hearts of the fans, but winning the trophy would be an uphill task against a team which has been ruling the domestic scenario since what seems like ages now. Monaco’s Mbappe, Falcao and Bakayoko’s along with full backs Mendy and Sidibe might possess a threat to the resolute Juve defense, but Juventus have Higuain and Dybala, while Cuadrado and Marchisio along with Khedira can control the game. The defence in a any attacker’s nightmare (ask Barca) where Chiellini and Bonnucci are joined by Alves. And they have Buffon, should we say more. The first leg might see Monaco draw with a couple of goals, but expect Juve to have an easy game in Turin to make it to the finals.
Our Prediction: Juventus’ all round team to prove too much for the young Monaco starlets.