Arguably the four best teams in the competition qualified to the semis, so the fight for the places in the final will be as fierce as ever.
Real Madrid defeated Atletico with a late goal from Javier Hernandez on Wednesday night, and this was the only score during the 180 minutes that the two teams spent together in this competition this year. That goal was the first from Chicharito in the Champions League in two years, gambling news report, and this win from Real was the only one they accomplished against Atletico this season.
Bayern and Barca top the books
Ancelotti looks for 2nd in a row
Juve returns after 12 years
Since Monaco weren’t able to find a way to the back of Gianluigi Buffon’s net, Juventus are the other side that advanced to the semis on Wednesday to join Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Massimiliano Allegri’s men didn’t even need to score to emerge successful from the fixture, as they had a one goal advantage from the first leg with an Arturo Vidal penalty. Though Monaco had twelve shots, only one of those was on target, so it’s no wonder that Buffon finished the game with a cleen sheet.
Barca are favourites to win
Barca seemed to be the strongest team in the competition before the quarterfinals already, and after an ultimately convincing couple of victories against Paris Saint-Germain they remained at the top of the online betting markets. Luis Enrique and his team came over a few months of difficulties – as the results were usually satisfying in that period of time as well, the fluidity of play was far from the best, and Blaugrana fans were complaining.
But after Luis Suárez made his Barcelona debut – he was missing because of a suspension he got for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup in Brazil – and he got used to play together with Lionel Messi and Neymar, things started to click. The trio has produced 95 goals in all competition so far this season. With Atletico out, the team best equipped to get a good result against Barca, it is not hard to see why the mobile betting audience favours them to win the Champions League.
Bayern back in business
After the defeat at Porto, in a game when the Bavarians’ defenders looked like a bunch of clowns, many pundits and fans thought that Bayern’s European season is over and Pep Guardiola is virtually on the move. But Die Roten rather came back with one of their best 45 minutes ever to blow the Dragons to smithereens, and now bookies consider them to be almost as strong as Barcelona.
The Munich-based club has been struggling with an extraordinary amount of injuries this season, and it led to a split with the medical team recently. They had problems at the back, and they dispatched Porto without two of their most iconic attackers, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. With those two coming back in the following days, Guardiola will have an even more threatening forward unit with a strong claim on the throne of Europe.
Real to defend the title?
Since the Champions League era started in 1992, no team was able to manage back to back victories. AC Milan and Juventus both have played three consecutive finals winning one of those each in the nineties, while Valencia lost two in a row at the turn of the millennium. So, the history is not on Carlo Ancelotti’s side, though he is the second manager after Liverpool legend Bob Paisley, who won the competition three times.
As a player, Ancelotti actually won two consecutive European Cups with AC Milan at the end of the ‘80s, so if there is a manager out there, who could be able to accomplish this feature, that might as well be him. He has all the required tools to spoil the game of Barca and Bayern, but since his team is not as convincing this spring as it was in the autumn, online sportsbooks in the EU rank them third favourites.
Juve are outsiders
Though being a club with a significant European Cup/Champions League history, the last time they went this far in the competition was in 2003, when they made it into the final only to be defeated by AC Milan in a penalty shootout at Old Trafford. In the last five years they only reached the quarterfinals once in 2013 when Bayern routed them 4-0 on aggregate. But the potential is clearly there in Allegri’s squad, and with a midfield consisting Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio and probably Paul Pogba, who could return for the second leg of the semis from his injury, the Old Lady can make it hard for any opposing team.
It is funny to see that no English side has made it to the semis, they completely missed the quarterfinals too actually, but there will be sparkling clashes between the last four teams anyway, as they might be the hottest European sides at the moment. You could argue that Chelsea or Arsenal would have a place somewhere there but as they failed to go this far in the Champions League, they have unfinished business only in England this season.