The 2017 UEFA Champions League semifinalists are set, with 10-time champions Real Madrid, rivals Atletico Madrid, 2-time champions Juventus and the young and surprising Monaco filling the spots of the Final Four. As in previous season, the creme de la creme of Spanish football (at club level) shows the strength of the La Liga by sending two teams into the semifinal.
AS Monaco FC
The surprise team in the final four, Monaco currently lead Ligue 1 in France, which could mean an 8th league title for them and a first since 2000. Monaco began their way this season in the third qualifying round, which means they’ve been playing Champions League football since late July. They finished first in a group that included Leverkusen, Tottenham and CSKA Moscow. In the round of 16, they made it through on away goals against Manchester City. Things went a bit more smoothly in the quarter-final against Dortmund, winning both matches, 6-3 on aggregate. It’s the first time for Monaco in the Champions League semis since 2004, when they made it to the final and lost to Porto.
The eternal Italian champions, Juventus are hoping that winning a sixth consecutive Scudetto will be accompanied with their first Champions League trophy since 1996. Still undefeated in the competition this season, Juventus finished first in a group that included Sevilla, Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb. They beat Porto in the round of 16 twice, 3-0 on aggregate; they impressed against Barcelona in the quarter-final, beating them 3-0 in the first leg and drawing 0-0 at the Camp Nou. They’ve conceded only 2 goals through the competition so far, making their second semifinal in 3 years. Two years ago they lost to Barcelona in the final.
The 2014 La Liga champions are once again on their way to finish third in Spain while the big dogs tussle for the league title. Atletico have had a great run in the Champions League so far this year, finishing first in the group which also included Bayern Munich, beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 on aggregate and knocked out the difficult Leicester with a 2-1 aggregate score, including a 1-0 win at home. It’ll be the team’s third semifinal in four years, hoping to make it a third final in four years, only this time with more positive results, losing to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016.
Real Madrid CF
While they’re on another impressive Champions League run, reaching the semifinal for the 7th straight season, Real Madrid are also leading the La Liga, which could mean their first league title since 2012 and only second in the last nine years. The 10-time European champions are hoping to become the first club in the UCL era to repeat as champions, also making it 3-for-4 after beating Atletico Madrid in the finals of 2014 and 2016. After finishing only 2nd in the group stage behind Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid beat Napoli in the round of 16 with a couple of 3-1 wins, followed by their controversial 6-3 aggregate scoreline against Bayern Munich, which had a lot to do with Viktor Kassai allowing two goals that shouldn’t have counted and sending off Arturo Vidal of Bayern for no reason.