- Real Madrid-Atletico Madrid: Simeone faces old nemesis
- Monaco-Juventus: Dark horses take on rock-solid Italian defence
- Winners meet in final in Cardiff on 3 June
For the fourth year running, and in a repeat of last year’s final when Zinedine Zidane’s side won Real Madrid’s 11th European title, Los Merengues and Los Colchoneros meet in the UEFA Champions League, this time in the semi-finals.
In the other last-four tie, Juventus – the only unbeaten side in the competition along with Real Madrid – will put their defensive prowess to the test against the in-form strike force that has made Monaco this season’s surprise package.
If history and form books are anything to go by, Los Blancos and I Bianconeri will start as favourites. Who will put themselves in pole position for a trip to Cardiff in a little over a month’s time, when the identity of Europe’s representative at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 will be revealed?
Real Madrid-Atletico Madrid, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
The city rivals have met four times in the competition – in the semis in 1959, the quarter-finals in 2015 and the finals in 2014 and 2016 – with the men in white emerging victorious on each occasion.
Atleti coach Diego Simeone has made his side’s intentions clear, however. “There’s only one path we can take: to keep on going, going and going,” he said after steering his side to the semi-finals for the third time in four years. In each of the last three seasons, Real have thwarted the Argentinian’s dream of winning Atleti's first Champions League title, a hoodoo that he will have to overcome if his side are to make it to Cardiff.
In contesting a tournament-record seventh consecutive semi-final, Real are looking to become the first side ever to retain the Champions League trophy, a task well within the grasp of a club with their record. With 28 goals in this year’s competition to date, Zidane’s side are the highest scorers of the four semi-finalists.
— Real Madrid C. F. (@realmadrid) May 1, 2017
— Koke Resurrección (@Koke6) May 1, 2017
AS Monaco-Juventus, Stade Louis II, Monaco
La Vecchia Signora have won the two previous meetings between the sides – in the semi-finals in 1998 and the last eight in 2015 – and have won all 11 of their previous ties against French clubs.
If there is one thing that Leonardo Jardim’s charges possess, however, it is the ability to surprise. Their 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe has been the sensation of this season’s Champions League, scoring five goals to date. Only Raul Gonzalez with six has scored more before turning 19. Meanwhile, strike partner Radamel Falcao is the most prolific front man in the history of UEFA competitions, having scored 45 goals in 50 outings in European club tournaments, an average of 0.9 goals per match.
Facing them, however, is the tournament’s best defence. Juve have conceded just twice in the ten games they have played to date. Given the solidity of the rearguard formed by Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini and the cutting edge the Italians boast up front, thanks in no small part to the skills of Paulo Dybala, Juve’s legendary 39-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon can rightly dream of lifting the famous trophy at last.
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 30, 2017
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) May 1, 2017