Coming into the CL Matchday 1, Borussia Dortmund were seen…
And then there were four. Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Juventus are the remaining teams left within Europe’s premier competition. While Barcelona easily dispatched the champions of France, PSG; Bayern Munich produced a wonderful comeback against the Portuguese giants in Porto. On the other hand, Real Madrid and Juventus each needed only one goal against the likes of Atletico Madrid and Monaco to progress to semifinals of UEFA Champions League. Which of these remaining European powerhouses impressed the most up to this point?
It needs to be said that Barcelona had a very formidable campaign to navigate through in order to reach this stage. Despite having the most talented frontline in world football, the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez had to show up against the champions of England and France. Of course, they seem to have found their feet at just the right time in the knockout stages of the competition. The Spanish side managed the games with ease in the Champions League, which is very impressive considering the opposition they had to face. Behind the very talented front line, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic also have the quality to win matches on their own. This Barcelona side is firing, and with the talent at their disposal, itss quite hard to see how this lineup can be stopped.
- Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich only needed a 2-0 win in order to progress in the final four. They won 6-1. This was against a Porto side that had boasted the best defensive record in the Champions League up to this point. This was a Bayern team that were missing the likes of Robben and Ribery, perhaps the two most creative players on the squad currently. The return of Thiago Alcantara has simply given them a spark in midfield that was lacking for some time. With Xabi Alonso’s tidiness and Phillip Lahm’s energy, Thiago completes that puzzle in Bayern’s midfield. The combination of play between Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski also seems to be growing within the pair. There is still a lot of potential for this squad to show, it will be high time for this side to peak against Barcelona in the semifinals.
- Real Madrid
The reigning Champions League holders will be look to complete history in becoming the only team to become back-to-back champions within the competition. With Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Karim Benzema; this is a forward line that can defeat any other competition in the side, as has been proven already against Barcelona in first league El Clasico of the season, as well beating Bayern Munich 5-0 in the same competition last season. They also successfully navigated against their current opponents in Juventus in the group stages in last season’s competition. Of course, Bayern Munich and Barcelona seem to have shown more so far this season to suggest they are the favorite over Los Blancos. However it was a deserved and controlled result against Atletico Madrid which might indicate the Madrid side is back on track after having rode out a shock 3-4 loss at home against Schalke in the previous round of Champions League fixtures.
Juventus are back at the top of European football this season. With a rounded midfield in Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio, and Arturo Vidal; this is a trio that can deal with any other midfield in Europe. Of course, the side from Turin might have to rely on Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Moratta, which is quite an underwhelming strike force compared to the other forward lines left in the competition. Although the midfield battle is certainly more than capable of being won however, which is another added plus in combatting Madrid’s quality over the two legs. The pressure will certainly be on Real Madrid to add impetus to the tie, so the Old Lady can surely rely on their defensive expertise as well in order to successfully negotiate the tie over 180 minutes of football. From then on, a 90 minute match is all what’s left for the Italian giants to become champions of the continent.