The Champions League returns this week with football fans in store for two of the most eagerly anticipated semi-finals in recent years. The final four teams are equally split between two countries, Spain and Germany, with all four clubs boasting victories in the competition in the last 16 years.
Ahead of the semi final first legs, nothing separates La Liga rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona in the betting to win the competition, with the fierce rivals both quoted odds of 2/1 to lift the trophy at Wembley on 25th May. Madrid are gunning for their 10th European Cup but first since 2002, while the Catalans are looking to secure their third crown in five years.
Bayern are next in the running at 3/1. Jupp Heynckes’ men have already won the Bundesliga and now have the opportunity to reach their third Champions League final in four years. Rivals Borussia Dortmund meanwhile are outsiders of the quartet at 6/1 but should by no means be underestimated.
Bayern Munich v Barcelona
This mouth-watering tie kicks off in Germany on Tuesday at the Allianz Arena. The two giants of European Football are miles ahead in their respective domestic leagues and will be gunning for glory in Europe. There is little between the teams according to the odds, with the hosts the 13/10 favourites to win the first-leg, while they can be backed 5/4 to progress through to the final for a second successive year. Meanwhile, Barcelona, who are the 4/7 favourites to win the tie over two legs are available at odds of 2/1 to come away with a vital victory in Munich, while a draw would also be a favoured outcome for the visitors and be backed at 12/5.
Bayern’s form has been truly scintillating, with the Bundesliga champions winning 18 of their last 19 matches in all competitions! The only blip in their otherwise perfect record was a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Arsenal but they have since bounced back in style by winning eight consecutive games, including Saturday’s 6-1 thrashing away to Hannover.
Bayern simply oozed class when they dispatched Juventus in the quarter-finals and they will now be desperate to avenge their 5-1 aggregate defeat to Barcelona back in the quarter-finals of the 2008/09 competition. Their squad is brimming with talent, especially in attack and they will no doubt cause an occasionally fragile Barcelona defence a plethora of problems in front of a vociferous home crowd.
Bar a major slip-up, Barcelona have all but won the La Liga title and they head into Tuesday’s first-leg unbeaten in nine games. However, their form in knockout competitions has been mixed so far and they only just edged past PSG in the last-eight courtesy of the away goal rule. They may be a constant presence in the latter stages of the competition but in truth, they have struggled on the road, winning just three of their last 15 knockout games away from the Nou Camp. Considering that Bayern have lost just one of 20 previous home encounters against Spanish opponents, Barcelona could well struggle in Munich.
The free-scoring nature of both teams means that goals should be on the cards in Germany. Bayern have smashed in a simply stunning 19 goals in their last 5 games, while Barcelona have netted 12 times in as many matches.
Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid
The second monumental semi-final tie takes place on Wednesday between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. Both sides have played second fiddle to Barcelona and Bayern in their respective leagues but they have been equally as devastating in Europe. The teams are no strangers to each other having already clashed in the group stages of the competition. Dortmund have the edge in that sense as they came out 2-1 winners in Germany and then recorded a creditable 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu back in November.
However, it is Madrid who has been installed as the narrow 7/5 favourites to win the first-leg, while they can be backed at just 2/5 to reach Wembley over two legs. Dortmund are available at 9/5 to get off to the perfect start with a win on home soil but are the 15/8 outsiders to progress through to the final.
Dortmund booked their place in the last-four in dramatic style after they fired in two last-gasp goals in injury time to break Malaga hearts a fortnight ago whilst Madrid nearly crumbled in Turkey as Galatasaray mounted a staggering second-half comeback, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to score late on to give the Spaniard’s a 5-3 win on aggregate.
Ronaldo leads the way in the race to win the competition’s Golden Boot with 11 goals, three ahead of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi who has scored eight but will need to hit the net over the two legs, whilst hoping his team reach the final if he is to land the honour for a fifth consecutive season.
From a neutral’s perspective, it would be hard for any football fan to say they would not be excited by the prospect of an El Clásico final in London. However, the prospect of an all German final is a mouth watering one and even if it was Spain v Germany once again next month, a thrilling spectacle should await.
All odds quoted are best prices from the comparisons at champions-league.betting-directory.com