Four of the top teams in Europe are preparing to lock horns to fight for the most coveted trophy on the continent – and perhaps even the world – the UEFA Champions League.
In the first semfinal, new champions of Germany, Bayern Munich will face the champions-to-be of Spain, Barcelona. The second semifinal of the 2012/13 Champions League may turn out to be a more sparkling debacle as Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid are both known for their extravagance in attack.
Lets take a look into what is to unfold in the next few days:
Bayern Munich v Barcelona
Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Tuesday, 23rd April, 2013
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)
Bayern Munich host a Barcelona team that only made it into the semis by winning on goal difference against Ligue 1 side PSG. Confidence is high in both camps, however. If Bayern have had a splendid season at home, Barca has only lost twice in their trips away from home.
Barcelona will be missing three key defenders – Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano and Adriano. Not buying central defenders over the last few seasons is now hurting the Catalans as they can’t stop conceding goals. Puyol and Masch are out until May with Arthroscopie and knee injury respectively while Adriano will miss out through suspension.
Jupp Heynckes’ squad is not injury-free either as three of his emerging players are out with injury. Holger Badstuber has been out since early December last year with a cruciate ligament rupture and he will stay out until June. Mario Mandzukic and Toni Kroos are also reportedly injured.
Bayern’s recent form overall has been tremendous this year. In 2013 so far, Bayern have played 24 matches and their record is W23 L1 – the loss came against Arsenal in the Round of 16 of the Champions League. Another interesting stat is that 11 of those 23 wins were with a margin of three goals or more.
Barcelona’s form has been no where near the standards set by Pep Guardiola. They weren’t helped by the recurring health problems for their current coach, Tito Vilanova. 2013 has been a year of mixed emotions for the Cules. From back to back defeats at the hands of their Clasico rivals to the comeback against AC Milan.
The two teams have met only four times in recent memory. Bayern have two wins to their name, while one for Barca and one ended in a draw.
The first meeting between the two was in the 1998/99 Champions League and it ended in a 1-0 win for the Bavarians. In the return leg in the Camp Nou, Bayern emerged victorious again with a scoreline of 2-1. Their third and fourth meeting came in Barcelona sextuple-winning season with Guardiola. Over two legs, Catalans registered a winning scoreline of 5-1.
The Nou Camp side seem to be an unpredictable bunch at the moment, but it must be noted that Bayern’s only defeat in the last 25 matches came at home in this competition. However, Bayern is still favourites to win the home leg at 6/5 with Ladbrokes. A draw is also on the cards with 12/5 and with Tito’s men playing two stalemates against French opposition, the following scoreline can be backed at 6/1.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 1-1 Barcelona
Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid
Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany
Wednesday, 24th April, 2013
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Although Borrussia Dortmund come into this game on a fine run of being undefeated in their last seven games (W6 D1), they are no match for the might of Real Madrid in the eyes of the bookies.
Real manager Jose Mourinho may be leaving the capital club at the end of this season – with a return to England on the cards – and he is definitely looking to leave on a high as he did with Inter Milan and Porto. It will also make him the first-ever manager to win the Champions League from three different clubs.
Dortmund are at a slight advantage that they are playing the first leg at home. Being the underdogs, they have the chance to take a lead in the tie if not kill it off completely. They will have the home support behind them and if anyone can create a winning atmosphere, it’s the fans in Germany.
Dortmund’s last defeat came away at Schalke 04 in early March. Since then, they have won six matches and drew just the one game away at Malaga. These six wins include a win over VfB Stuttgart and 6-1 thrashing of Gruether Furth away from home.
Real Madrid are on a fine run of form themselves. Since their 1-0 loss against Granada in February, they have played 15 matches and won most of them (W12 D2 L1). Their sole loss came against Turkish side Galatasaray.
Dortmund fans will be hoping for a repeat of their meetings earlier this season in the group stage of this competition. The German side managed to take three points off Madrid in two matches. However, that’s the only time Dortmund have managed to beat the latter.
In total, the two clubs have faced each other in the Champions League on six occasions and Madrid emerged victories twice, while three ended in draws.
Although the most recent Madrid loss came away in the Champions League, they are still favourites to win the first leg of this semifinal. You can back Real Madrid at 7/5 with Ladbrokes to win the match. Moreover, you can back the following scoreline at 8/1 with Ladbrokes:
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Real Madrid