Uefa semifinals - what a show
The setting of the semifinals of the Uefa Champions League could not have been better scripted.
As evening sets on the championship, the last four teams standing present a truly intriguing picture.
Of the four teams, it is only Borussia Dortmund that have arrived under some cloud. The manner of their last minute qualification against Malaga, through a goal that many feel was scored from an obvious offside position, puts a question mark on their true strength. On the other hand, in the qualifying stages, they are the only team to have shown Real Madrid some ‘pepper’, taking away four points from a possible six in their two matches.
The two teams meet again, with Dortmund obviously having the psychological edge.
The two matches between them now present the ultimate litmus test for both teams. Having said that, I think the two legs of the semifinal will be completely different from the earlier matches and I foresee two nail-biting encounters that are going to be a battle of wits and tactics between the managers, with Mourinho coming out on top.
It is almost impossible to imagine how Real Madrid will not win this match. There is just too much renewed firepower now in its frontline, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, who has turned into Europe’s most lethal goal-scoring machine. The team has several other goal-scoring options up front. Few teams have been able to stop them in the latter part of this season.
Although Real Madrid may not have been at their mercurial best all through this season, they have been consistent lately in finding a way to win matches, even when they may not be playing too well. That is the stuff champion teams are made of.
Real Madrid will overcome Dortmund and get to the finals.
The match up of Barcelona and Bayern Munich is a match that has captured the imagination of the world. There could not be a better match in prospect.
Both teams parade some of the world’s most gifted and brilliant players. The contrast of the two teams is Bayern’s well organised and disciplined play against Barcelona’s expressiveness and individual artistry.
After the stunning defeat by Bayern Munich last night, the second leg will be fought toe-to-toe and every blade of grass will be a mini-battleground.
I can perceive the scent of Germany all over this year’s championship, yet I do not know how it will happen. Let me play my usual dangerous game and consult my crystal ball.
Real Madrid will be in the finals.
If Bayern go past Barcelona and face Real Madrid in the final, the trophy will end up in Munich.
If Barcelona somehow survive Bayern and create the prospect of another El Classico, I see recent history repeating itself. Somehow, this season, Real Madrid have mastered Barca. So, Mourinho’s broad smile shall light up the whole of Europe.