The first leg matches of the UEFA Champions League semifinals were an absolute treat for football fans. The Liverpool attack, led by the enigmatic Mo Salah, hit peak form as they overwhelmed Roma with a 5-star performance at Anfield. Two away goals offer slender hope to the Romans for the second leg at home.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid capitalized on Bayern’s defensive errors to emerge with a priceless 2-1 away win to take back to the Bernabeu. It will be an uphill battle for the Germans, but they showed that they possess the quality to turn this around.
The second leg games get underway today. If the Quarterfinal 2nd leg results are anything to go by, football fans are in for an action packed two days.
Here’s an overview of this week’s 2nd leg semifinal matchups:
Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich
The two marquee teams left in the competition did not disappoint in the first leg, providing us with football of the highest quality. Bayern were dominant for large stretches, but two moments of defensive slackness were punished by the ruthless defending champs.
Despite having home advantage in this match, Real Madrid showed against Juventus that they are vulnerable at home. They are also suffering from injuries, with Dani Carvajal (hamstring) and Isco (sprained shoulder) out. Carvajal’s absence in particular is a problem for coach Zinedine Zidane to solve with either the just returning Nacho or the unfamiliar Lucas Vazquez the only viable options.
Jupp Heynckes’ men have their own injury concerns with Jerome Boateng (thigh) and Arjen Robben (adductor) both left out. Nevertheless, they have the pedigree, quality, and big match experience to prevail. They will have to go on the attack early if they are to stand any chance of overturning last week’s result.
This should be a fantastic game.
Roma vs Liverpool
At one point during the first leg match, it looked like Liverpool could rack up an embarrassing scoreline against the shell-shocked Romans. Roma coach Di Francesco had rolled out a far too adventurous formation, leaving acres of space for Salah and Co. to run riot. However, two late goals opened a side-window for second leg hopes.
Roma will point to their miraculous quarterfinal win over Barcelona for inspiration and will hope for lightning to strike a second time at the Stadio Olimpico. Their hopes will rest on the shoulders of the imperious Edin Dzeko in attack and the ability of their defense to repel the merciless Liverpool front line.
Liverpool are spared the element of surprise and will be wary of the potential for an inspired Roma to make this tie interesting. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s unfortunate long term injury is a big loss, leaving the Reds a man light in midfield. Jurgen Klopp will hope that his men emerge from this battle unscathed.
It would take a brave man to bet against the fearsome ‘Pool front 3 grabbing the vital goal to put this tie to bed. But after that famous Barcelona game, who knows?
- GK: Navas
- DEF: Alexander-Arnold, Kolarov, van Dijk
- MID: Under, Kroos, Ribery, James
- FWD: Salah, Ronaldo (c), Dzeko
- BENCH: Fabri, Wijnaldum, Rui, Jorge
With an eye on the final, I’ve replaced the injured duo of Carvajal and Oxlade-Chamberlain with a Liverpool duo of Van Dijk and Wijnaldum. I’m going to gamble the armband on one of my Bayern mids — Ribery to turn his positive first-leg showing into goals, or James to write a story against his old employers.
Are the second leg matches a formality, or will we see upsets? What are your predictions, and how are your fantasy teams shaping up? Let us know in the comments!