2014-2015 UEFA Champions League Semifinals First Leg Preview
Paolo Buendia on May 04, 2015 11:12 AM
Can Lionel Messi and Neymar bring back Barcelona to the final of the UEFA Champions League? (Photo courtesy of AP images)
Four of Europe’s biggest clubs have made it to the semifinals. Real Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are former winners of this tournament, which make the matchups even more exciting. Defending Champion Real Madrid will take on Italian Champion Juventus while four-time champion Barcelona goes up against German Champion Bayern Munich.
Juventus v Real Madrid FC
Juventus will be counting on home field advantage in this first-leg matchup with 2014 Champion Real Madrid. The recently crowned 2015 Serie A Champion, Juventus’ fourth straight league title, is almost unbeatable in Turin, losing only one of the last seventeen European matches while winning ten and drawing the other two. Losing midfield dynamo Paul Pogba to injury was seen as a major concern for the home side but the recent results in this competition and the league shows the depth of the club’s roster. Madrid’s own away record in this competition is almost as impressive as Juventus’, losing only one match in the last eleven away matches, winning eight and drawing the other two. The Spanish side has a fantastic scoring record on away matches, failing to score only once in the last twenty nine games. Madrid’s record in Italy has been poor however, but an away goal will be crucial to bring home to Spain in a week’s time. The return of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema will provide a major boost for the visitors due to the almost impenetrable defense of the home side. I predict a draw in this match.
The match will air May 6, 2015, Wednesday live at 2:30 am on Balls Channel 34, ABS-CBN Sports & Action Channel 17 and Balls HD
FC Barcelona v FC Bayern Munich
A lot of storylines accompanies this thrilling matchup but the biggest one of all is the return of Pep Guardiola to the home of the team he coached into the history books. Barcelona has been the best team since the start of the New Year, where the front three of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Messi have been scoring goals for fun. An excellent home record of twenty five wins, one loss and six draws in the last thirty two home matches underline the dominance that Barca sustains in the Camp Nou. The Spanish side has no major injuries going into this match, which is a stark contrast to the visiting side. Bayern Munich still does not have a host of players available for this week’s contest. Franck Ribery, David Alaba and Tom Starke are joined by Arjen Robben in the injury list. Mehdi Benatia, Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger are now fit to play but may not be a hundred percent ready for a full ninety minutes. Robert Lewandowski suffered a broken nose and jaw in the German Cup loss to Borussia Dortmund but may still feature albeit wearing a mask. The Bundesliga champion’s away record has been poor this season, drawing one and losing two of the last three matches. The visitors will need to defend well against the vaunted MSN attack of Barca and snatch an important away goal or two to bring the advantage home to Munich for the return leg. I believe Barca will win this match.
The quality of these sides cannot be emphasized more. We will be witnesses to the best four teams in Europe, going head-to-head for two spots in the finals. Both games are a must-see for everyone.
The match will air May 7, 2015, Thursday at 2:30 am on Balls Channel 34, ABS-CBN Sports & Action Channel 17 and Balls HD
“The smell of freshly-cut grass and the whiff of the chalk before a big game…and then it starts to rain. You. Are. Home.”