UEFA have made the draw for the last four of Europe’s premier club football competition. A pulsating set of quarter finals means Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Juventus and Monaco will be in the hat for the last four of the Champions League.
The match ups give us a repeat of last year’s final. The Madrid derby last year prove one of the greatest finals in years. No doubt we are in for more of the same on this occasion. Domestically though, Real have the edge this year with a one all draw at home at the beginning of this month coupled with a 3-0 win away in November.
Atletico ended the fairy-tale run of English champions Leicester City in the Quarter Finals. The Spanish side built on a 1-0 home win with a one all draw on the return leg to secure their place in the pot. They will be keen to avenge the final heartache of last season, as well as domestic form, however. The loss on penalties in last year’s decider to local rivals Real Madrid at the San Siro would have irked Atletico supporters who still dream of their maiden title victory. Unfortunately for them, three runners-up placings is the best they’ve managed to date.
Real are the undisputed kings of European club football though. A record 11 European Cup/Champions League titles to date has done nothing to quell their hunger for more success. Previous to this stage, their epic tussle with German champions Bayern Munich was, without doubt, the tie of the Quarter-Finals. Extra-time and some controversy later, the score line in the record books will read 6 – 3. However, that does not accurately tell the tale of the Spanish side going through with some great fortune. They’ll need to improve if they are to defend their crown.
Monaco have been the surprise package this season. Having failed to qualify for the group stages last year, most wrote them off early on in proceedings. Nevertheless, the The Red and Whites were unfazed and topped their group. Subsequent giant killings accounted for Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund. As such, they will enter their semi final with no fear. They were finalist just once in 2004 but will need to be at their best to match that feat.
The final semi-finalist is also no stranger to the business end of the Champions League. The Old Lady will call on football pedigree of all of her 120 years as a club. What’s surprising about Juventus is that they’ve only won the competition twice ever. Their last victory coming back in 1996. Some will look at the manner in which they swatted aside Barcelona in the last round as a sign that this team of seasoned professionals really mean business this time out.
The last time the sides met, an Arturo Vidal penalty was all that could separate the sides over their two quarter-final legs. Two years later, the sides will lock horns again with the margins set to be as tight.
The full semi-final line-up is as follow:
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
Juventus v Monaco
First leg matches to be played 2nd/3rd May with the return fixtures set for 9th/10th May.