Bayern favourites, Real Madrid outsiders – Goal ranks the Champions League semi-finalists

Goal ranks the sides vying for Europe’s biggest prize ahead of some mouthwatering last-four ties


Last opponents:
Man Utd
Next opponents: Real Madrid

Until recent weeks, Bayern Munich have looked about as dominant as any side has in the modern era, sweeping to the Bundesliga title by mid-March and easily side-stepping most opponents in their bid to win back-to-back Champions League finals.

However, there has been a slight wobble from Pep Guardiola’s men since their crowning moment in Berlin last month. Their troubles over two legs against the weakest Manchester United squad in a generation suggested they are not indestructible in Europe, while defeat to Augsburg marked a first defeat in 54 matches in the domestic league.

But Bayern have built up so much credit in the last two years that to write them off on the basis of a few weeks would be folly. They remain the one club about which few doubts exist. With stocks aplenty in the squad to deal with potential injury issues and the ability to pass their way around teams or similarly hit target man Mario Mandzukic from wide crossing positions, they have plenty of angles of attack.

Bayern are still the team to beat, despite having drawn the second favourites for the competition in the semi-final. Guardiola has shown a knack of getting one over Real Madrid before and will fancy his chances of doing so again.


Last opponents:
Next opponents: Atletico

Chelsea’s topsy-turvy Champions League story continues. In 2012, they were underdogs, but went on to win the tournament. Last season, they were expected to challenge again, but couldn’t get out of the groups. This time around, they were written off after losing the first leg against Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals, only to stage another Stamford Bridge great escape.

On the face of it, the Blues still have notable problems throughout their squad, with Jose Mourinho seemingly finding regular fault with his strikers at a time when his back line have also looked occasionally suspect. But below that runs a spirit and will to win that has seen Chelsea excel before and could well see them overachieve once more.

A semi-final clash with Atletico Madrid gives them arguably the best chance they could have hoped for going into the last four, but Diego Simeone’s side are still a formidable prospect. But, with Mourinho in their corner, they will believe themselves to be well equipped to make it to a second final in three years.


Last opponents:
Next opponents: Chelsea

The Atletico Madrid story is nothing short of phenomenal. Diego Simeone’s troops have exceeded all expectations thus far, both in Spain and across the continent, and now they are ready to make the last step towards greatness by reaching a Champions League final for the first time in 40 years.

Observers have bestowed much of the credit for their extraordinary season thus far on Diego Costa, but the victory over Barcelona in the quarter-finals without their talismanic striker proved that they are far more than just a one-man team. With stand-out performances from the likes of Adrian Lopez and Diego Ribas over the course of the last-eight tie, they have also shown that while their squad may be small in number, it is big in talent.

While many tipped Atleti to fall away under the weight of assaults at home and abroad, they remain in the running on both fronts, and a continuation of that for six more weeks could well result in unprecedented success.

A draw against Chelsea gives them a very good chance of making the glamour date in Lisbon on May 24, but Mourinho is likely to give them their toughest test yet in their continental run.


Last opponents:
Next opponents: Bayern

The chase for La Decima lived a charmed life in Germany in midweek as Borussia Dortmund made Real Madrid sweat despite the three-goal disparity carried over from the first leg. But the Blancos head into the last four for a fourth consecutive season and will fancy their chances against any side.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s injury is the hot topic around the Spanish capital at the moment, but he could be back for both legs of the semi-final, and even were he not, Madrid have the firepower of Karim Benzema, the energy of Gareth Bale and Angel di Maria, and the creativity of Xabi Alonso with which to hurt opponents. Their own question mark pertains to their historically questionable defensive line.

Now it all comes down to Carlo Ancelotti’s ability to send his team out with the right plan to overcome Bayern, the competition favourites. One suspects that Pepe, Sergio Ramos et al will have to seriously up their game if they are to be present in Lisbon for the final.

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