Barcelona’s controversial win over Milan secured a fifth consecutive semi-final appearance in the Champions League to tie the record set by bitter rivals Real Madrid over 50 years ago. Ironically, the Spanish giants might end up clashing in the final in a European version of the famous El Clasico.
Barca’s path to Munich appears to be much easier than that of Real because the Catalans will face Chelsea, the English club with an aging squad and inconsistent results as shown by the results in the English Premier League, while Los Blancos will have to overcome Bayern Munich in the semis.
Bayern will be determined and desperate to oust Real since their arena will be the venue for the final in what is club football’s most prestigious trophy. Real will have to keep an eye on the triple threat posed by Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry and Mario Gomez. Both Robben and Ribéry have managed 11 goals in the Bundesliga with the Frenchman providing another 11 assists while striker Gomez has managed to score 23 goals in 27 league matches in addition to 11 goals in just 8 games in the Champions League. Bayern’s quality extends beyond their star trio to include established players such as Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller.
Clearly Real’s task will be a difficult one but coach Jose Mourinho has already tasted success against Bayern while in charge of Inter, the Italians triumphed over the Bavarian club to win the European trophy in 2010. Mourinho has been less than animated this season with Real having a great run in La Liga and in Europe, however, the failure to defeat Barcelona has taken away some of the luster from Madrid’s surge to the top of the Spanish league.
Bayern will likely find it tough to contain Real’s own triumvirate in the shape of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain. Ronaldo is having another phenomenal season and if it were not for Lionel Messi’s amazing numbers, Cristiano’s achievements would be receiving more media coverage and much more attention from experts and fans alike.
How intriguing would it be if Chelsea did pull off a major upset to eliminate Barca and play against former coach Mourinho and his Real side? It would be wrong to overlook Chelsea but at the same time it does appear that only Bayern can stand in the way of another El Clasico. The stakes will be even higher for the two Spanish giants if they do meet in Munich. If they do meet and Real triumph, then Mourinho might opt to move away from Madrid just like he did after achieving European success with Inter.
Mourinho’s destination will most likely be the English Premiership with a number of clubs rumored to be interested in his services, including his former club Chelsea. For now, Mourinho’s eyes will be on dethroning Barca as La Liga and European champions. With a six point advantage in the league, Los Blancos remain the favored club to clinch the title but it could be a different story in Europe with German giants Bayern standing in the way of Real and another European final.