Champions League semi-finals: Liverpool vs Villarreal, Man. City vs Real Madrid | UEFA Champions League

Real Madrid and Villarreal advanced to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday with their last four opponents confirmed as Manchester City and Liverpool respectively the following evening.

Champions League semifinals

Manchester City vs Real Madrid (April 26 and May 4)
Liverpool vs Villarreal (April 27 and May 3)

Man. City vs. Real Madrid

MAN. TOWN


Highlights: Male. City 1-0 Atlético

Why they can win it
Few teams are able to handle City’s metronomic passes and relentless pressure. Their strength in depth is unmatched across Europe, while their hunger for a first Champions League triumph remains as fierce as ever. After all, they could not have gone much closer in Porto in May last year.

Record vs semifinal opponents Real Madrid: P6 W2 D2 L2 F7 A7

UEFA rankings: 2
Europa Cup best: second place (2020/21)
Last season: second place (L 0-1 against Chelsea)
Last semifinal: 2020/21 (W 4-1 agg vs Paris)

This season
Record: W6 D2 L2 F24 A10
Top Scorer: Riyad Mahrez (6)
Quarterfinals: 1-0 agg against Atlético
Round 16: 5-0 agg against Sporting CP
Group A: winners

Highlights: Sporting CP 0-5 Mon.  Town

Highlights: Sporting CP 0-5 Mon. Town

Campaign so far
Foreshadowing for City’s rivals, there is still room for improvement. The Group A winners lost two of their three away games in the section – albeit narrowly – and kept only their first clean sheet in this season’s competition in their last 16 victory in the first match in Lisbon. They have now held four in a row after the narrow overall success against Atlético, which highlights how, on top of their highly praised attacking qualities, they can also defend themselves with real resilience.

How they play
City play the Guardiola way: a team set up in a very fluid 4-3-3 that wants to dominate the ball and beat teams with the speed of their passes and moves. They defend in a high block and push the opposition with intensity, seeking to hurt them on lightning-fast turnovers. And last but not least, they are blessed with fabulously gifted individuals like Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden who have such awareness, creativity and execution skills.

Key player: Kevin De Bruyne
The 30-year-old planner passed 250 matches for the club last season and remains a talismanic figure in their midfield despite the wealth around him. He endured somewhat of a slow start to the campaign, but appears to be returning to his best and has made it a habit to score in key matches since the end of the group stage, including his winning streak in the quarter-finals.

Coach: Pep Guardiola
One of the most decorated coaches in the game, the 51-year-old won this competition twice with Barcelona. He has won three league titles separately at the helm of the Catalan club, Bayern and City.

Did you know?
Guardiola has now reached its ninth Champions League semi-final – surpassing former opponent José Mourinho’s eight.

REAL MADRID (ESP)

Highlights: Chelsea 1-3 Real Madrid

Highlights: Chelsea 1-3 Real Madrid

Why they can win it
If they can turn it into a draw against Paris against all odds and then survive such an attack from the proprietors of Chelsea, nothing is beyond them. Karim Benzema is in the shape of his life and with Vinicíus Júnior providing excellent support, as well as the venerable Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić pulling the strings, who would dare to rule out that the 13-time winners do what they are best at ?

Record vs semifinal opponents Man. Town: P6 W2 D2 L2 F7 A7

UEFA rankings: 5
Europa Cup best: winners (1955/56, 1956/57, 1957/58, 1958/59, 1959/60, 1965/66, 1997/98, 1999/2000, 2001/02, 2010/15/2013/14, 622/6 , 2017/18)
Last season: semifinals (L 1-3 agg vs Chelsea)
Last semifinal: 2020/21 (L 1-3 agg vs Chelsea)

This season
Record: W7 D0 L3 F22 A9
Top scorer: Karim Benzema (12)
Quarterfinals: 5-4 agg against Chelsea
Round 16: 3-2 agg against Paris
Group D: winners

Campaign so far
How is it possible to lose at home to the Sheriff and then reach the last four with a gigantic performance against Paris followed by an epic draw against Chelsea? The route map helps to explain. Madrid won nothing last season and are, according to their own statements, desperate for trophies at home and in Europe this time. The 5-0 away win over Shakhtar reset Madrid’s GPS in the group stage. The defeat in Paris did the same – leading to another high-pressure approach, which reaped further rewards at Stamford Bridge.

How they play
With a 4-3-3 template, Madrid has a strong backbone starting with Thibaut Courtois and running through central defense Éder Militão to the experienced midfield trio Casemiro, Modrić and Kroos with all the technical quality, vision and experience. And then you come to the shapely Benzema in front – a master of the art of center-forward play. They also have the energy of increasingly influential younger players like Vinícius Júnior and Federico Valverde – as well as the intangible know-how that gets them out of the cramped places.

All Karim Benzema's 2021/22 goals so far

All Karim Benzema’s 2021/22 goals so far

Key player: Karim Benzema
Many wondered where Real Madrid’s goal would come from when Cristiano Ronaldo left in 2018, but the French striker has more than gone up on the plate to become the club’s talisman. He scored Madrid’s 1,000. European Cup goal against Shakhtar earlier in this campaign, and then turned their quarter-final with Paris with a hat-trick in the second half before hitting the decisive blow in extra time against the Blues, turning it into four goals in a draw. .

Coach: Carlo Ancelotti
The manager, who managed Madrid for ‘La Décima’ in 2014, returned last summer for another period of responsibility. He is one of just three coaches who have won the Europa Cup / Champions League on three occasions.

Did you know?
Madrid are in the European Championship semi-finals for the 31st time, 11 more than any other club. They have won four of their last six matches at this stage.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal

LIVERPOOL (ENG)

Highlights: Benfica 1-3 Liverpool

Highlights: Benfica 1-3 Liverpool

Why they can win it
The similarity with the 2018/19 Champions League-winning campaign is that Liverpool are chasing a fierce Manchester City in the domestic market, and it seems that such a goal always brings out the best in Jürgen Klopp’s team. When they hit top form and everything works in destructive harmony, it’s hard to see anyone coping with them. If you add the Anfield factor, anything is possible.

Record vs semifinal opponents Villarreal: P2 W1 D0 L1 F3 A1

UEFA rankings: 3
Europa Cup best: winners (1976/77, 1977/78, 1980/81, 1983/84, 2004/05, 2018/19)
Last season: quarter finals (L 1-3 agg vs Real Madrid)
Last semifinal: 2018/19 (W 4-3 agg vs Barcelona)

This season
Record: W8 D1 L1 F25 A11
Top Scorer: Mohamed Salah (8)
Quarterfinals: 6-4 agg vs Benfica
Round 16: 2-1 agg vs Inter
Group B: winners

Highlights: Inter 0-2 Liverpool

Highlights: Inter 0-2 Liverpool

Campaign so far
Liverpool have faced stiff competition – of their opponents so far, only Atlético have never won the competition. This makes it even more impressive that they have an almost perfect record: ten matches and only one loss in the second match against Inter. In fact, it was only the Nerazzurri who consistently bothered Klopp’s side, but like any great team, they found a way to win.

How they play
Klopp rarely deviates from his proven 4-3-3 formation – a system that has served the Reds fantastically well since the German’s arrival in 2015. Their high-intensity pressure has been refined in recent seasons – with a little help from smart acquisitions such as Diogo Jota and Luis Díaz – but it remains just as effective. At their best, they are without a doubt Europe’s finest side.

Key player: Mohamed Salah
The Egyptian striker has been the face of this Liverpool team since arriving from Roma in 2017. He was a star in Basel and first landed in England with Chelsea in 2014, but he has proven to be a huge talent at Merseyside, his pace , intelligence and completion helped him get to the finish line. 33 Champions League goals for the club.

Coach: Jürgen Klopp
Liverpool boss since 2015, Klopp guided the Reds to continental greatness in 2018/19 and to their first English title in 30 years next season. A striker became defender in Mainz, he lifted two Bundesliga titles with Dortmund before heading to Anfield.

Did you know?
Liverpool have been European champions six times – more than any other English team. It is as many titles as Bayern, with Milan and Real Madrid as the only clubs to have won more.

VILLARREAL (ESP)

Highlights: Bayern 1-1 Villarreal

Highlights: Bayern 1-1 Villarreal

Why they can win it
The yellow submarine may not be thrilling for many, but they showed exactly what they are made of when they won the UEFA Europa League last season. When you throw it in that they have already beaten Juventus and Bayern, then anything is possible now, they are only in their second Champions League semi-final ever.

Record vs semifinal opponents Liverpool: Liverpool P2 W1 D0 L1 F1 A3

UEFA rankings: 19
Europa Cup best: semifinals (2005/06, 2021/22)
Last season: Europa League winners (1-1, W11-10p vs Man. United)
Last semifinal: 2005/06 (L 0-1 agg vs Arsenal)

This season
Record: W5 D3 L2 F18 A11
Topscorer: Arnaut Danjuma (6)
Quarterfinals: 2-1 agg against Bayern
Round 16: 4-1 agg against Juventus
Group F: second place

Campaign so far
Profligat in the group stage, giant killers in knockouts. Unai Emery’s team desperately missed the injured Gerard Moreno for most of the campaign, but you have to give them the credit for getting this far with their talismanic goal scorer reduced to a starring role. Their built-up game deserved far more than scraping out of their squad, and beating Juve out in the quarter-finals and Bayern in the quarter-finals is a warning to the rest of Europe.

How they play
In a stiff 4-4-2, where Emery prioritizes a solid and well-drilled team. Raúl Albiol leads a backline that lays the foundation for a team that has mastered the art of inviting their opponents to them before quickly switching from defense to attack. The pace of players like Arnaut Danjuma and the distribution of people like Daniel Parejo and Giovani Lo Celso is key.

Highlights: Juventus 0-3 Villarreal

Highlights: Juventus 0-3 Villarreal

Key player: Arnaut Danjuma
A summer arrival from the English second team might not have had fans too excited, but the Dutchman has been a revelation in both domestic and European football for Villarreal, who have worried the defense with his skill, pace and directness – and his eye for goal.

Coach: Unai Emery
The former Almería and Valencia coach made the Europa League his own with a hat-trick of successes in Sevilla. Led Paris to the treble in 2017/18 and Arsenal to a European final a year later before coming to Villarreal in the summer of 2020 – and immediately won the Europa League again.

Did you know?
Just under half of Villarreal’s 52,000 inhabitants can fit into their stadium with 23,500 seats.

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