The Champions League semifinals are drawn: Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich & Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea. Plenty of storylines for both the semifinals and all the potential final matchups that can be made.
Favorites to go through? Chelsea might actually be the weakest them out of the four. Bayern, despite not looking as unbeatable as they were a year ago, should be considered as the top dogs going into the clashes, with Real Madrid struggling to get by an injured Dortmund. Atletico are the only team out of the four with a European Cup/Champions League title, but they’re impossible to ignore or overlook.
1. Real Madrid vs Tiki Taka Again
After losing twice to Barcelona this season in the league which is probably going to cost Real Madrid the league title, they’re off to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League, a team with Pep Guardiola, a manager who lost against Real Madrid as Barcelona’s manager only once in eight league Clasico clashes. Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t going to be playing in one of the matches, and Real Madrid looked panicky on their visit to Germany this week. Bayern are MUCH better than Dortmund, but Guardiola might make it a bit easier for Real Madrid if he insists on ball movement without a hint of Jupp’s Bayern that rampaged through Europe last year and also outplayed Real Madrid in the 2012 semifinals.
2. It’s Going to Get Ugly
The two “other” teams in the semifinal stage, although it’s hard to consider Atletico Madrid, leading the Spanish La Liga and just coming off beating Barcelona as outsiders. Chelsea haven’t been playing all that well or too consistent all season long, but they are the 2012 champions, and with a manager that seems to be their biggest and maybe even their only advantage when it comes to playing with the big boys. Atletico Madrid is Diego Simeone: Disciplined, aggressive, relentless. Chelsea aren’t what Jose Mourinho wants them to be, not yet. But their football isn’t going to be easy for Atletico to stand up against like they did against Barcelona, and it might call for some tricks out of a hat from Simeone, doing it against the manager who does it better than anyone.
3. Madrid Derby, Bayern Revenge or Mourinho vs Old Friends/Enemies?
Whatever the final will be, there’s plenty of history to back it up as a huge clash. Bayern Munich against Chelsea is a revenge match for Bayern, pretty much robbed of a Champions League title by a team playing cynical, bad football, that caught a lucky break through a penalty shootout. Bayern also beat Chelsea in a penalty shootout earlier this season.
Bayern against Atletico? A replay of the 1974 final, which went Bayern’s way and was the least time Atletico Madrid made it this far in the competition.
Atletico vs Real? Madrid derby, nothing really tops that in terms of the hate and animosity we’ll see in the final. Unless Chelsea and Real Madrid meet. Mourinho maximizes these moments to bring out the worst in himself and his opponents. It might not call for great football, but it’s going to be very interesting to hear what everyone will have to say.