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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - EUROPA LEAGUE SEMI FINAL DRAW - MATCH UPS

The draw for the UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE & EUROPA LEAGUE semi-finals match-ups was celebrated in UEFA H/Q in Nyon with the following results.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SEMI FINALS 2015

The semi-finals for UEFA Champions League are
  • FC Barcelona - Bayern Munich : first leg 5/6 May, second leg 12/13 May
  • Juventus FC - Real Madrid CF : first leg 5/6 May, second leg 12/13 May
On paper Barça got the stiff stick being matched with Bayern Munich, while Real Madrid "in theory" will face the "less strongest" of the other three representatives. Said this, all 4 are difficult & very competitive playing in these types of games were form is not the only factor & many a time luck come into play.

What the draw does open the door to is the possibility of a Spanish Football Final in Berlin, a repeat of last year which would reconfirm the supremancy of Spanish Soccer.

EUROPA LEAGUE SEMI FINALS 2015

The semi-finals for the Europa League are
  • Napoli - Dnipro
  • Sevilla FC - Fiorentina 
The 1º leg is the 7th of May & 2º leg the 14th of May. 

In this competition all 4 are in great form while Italian Football has the chance to get back to the highest levels of European Football with a "hypothetical" all Italian Final. No doubt the Spanish Football representative will be working to assure this does not happen & that Sevilla reaches the Final in Warsaw.  


ZENIT 2 SEVILLA FC 2 (SEVILLA FC WINS 4 - 3 AGG) | EUROPA LEAGUE

Near scare in St Petersburg (Russia) for Sevilla FC in the Europa League 2º leg return match against Zenit. But the Spanish Football Club managed to get itself together & steer themselves into the semi-finals after eliminating the Russian tonight on a 4 - 3 overall aggregate. 

Sevilla FC vs Zenit Europa League 2015

Sevilla Fc took to Russia a 2 - 1 result in their favour from the 1º leg game. The Spanish team could not have started tonights return encounter better after Carlos Bacca converted a penalty in the 6th min. However, Zenit began turning things around & progressively put Sevilla FC on the back foot.

The second half started with Zenit scoring in the 48th min through Rondon after a Sevilla FC goalie mistake from Beto. Things then got real interesting when Zenit Brazilian player Hulk saw Sevilla goalie Beto off his line & scored from 30 mts, another goalkeeping mistake that put Zenit ahead & the match into extra-time. 

Sevilla goalie Beto then turned from "Villain" into "Savoir" making a couple of incredible saves to keep his team alive. Sevilla Coach Emery reacted & put on Gameiro, & in the 85th min the Frenchman turned a counter-attack into a goal to qualify Sevilla FC. 

Close call for the Spaniards were anything could have happened tonight. Final result tonight  Zenit 2 - Sevilla FC 2 (Sevilla wins 4-3 on aggregate).

REAL MADRID 1 ATLETICO MADRID 0 | REAL MADRID THROUGH TO SEMI-FINALS

Real Madrid managed in extremis to qualify for the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League after defeating Atletico de Madrid 1 - 0 (1-0 aggregate). Hard game of Football with extreme intensity, solid positioning on the tactical front & towards the end controversy after Atletico was left with 10 men. The added blemish was perhaps the last 10 minutes when Atletico put on the physical play that was not up to their image.  


Said this, with hindsight Real Madrid always put forward the initiative while Atletico de Madrid perhaps sinned of being too speculative. Risky strategy that was paid dearly when Mexican & Real Madrid forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez broke the grid lock after a CR7 - James Rodriguez play that found Hernandez who tapped in the ball in the 87th min for the winner

Other stats to bear in mind are 66% ball possession by Real Madrid with more than 16 goals attempts (At Madrid around 5) & Atletico de Madrid goalie Olbak their best player with numerous saves. This should give you an idea that Real Madrid deserved the victory solely on the basis that they looked for it from the kick-off. 

The controversial moment was the sending off in the 76th min for a double yellow card Atletico Madrid midfielder Turan Arda after dangerous play on Sergio Ramos. The video reply shows that it was not as bad as it looked in "real-time" & perhaps the second yellow card was harsh & not necessary at all. With Atletico de Madrid down to 10 men Real Madrid did have more spaces & later did come the winning goal. Atletico was overcome by "emotion" & lost control "mentally" of the match. 

Although Chicharito had scored his teams goal, a goal from Atletico Madrid in the remaining time ( +5 extra time) would have been enough to get them through with the away goal rule. Instead of concentrating on this fact, the visitors poured out their frustration with psychical Football that was counter productive.  

Real Madrid Coach Ancelotti half surprised us all before the match lining up Sergio Ramos as a midfielder. The experiment worked today - due to the win - & was effective not for the Football displayed by Ramos but by his leadership pulling his team onward to find the win. In this aspect the "Ancelotti Experiment" worked well. Other names to mention are James Rodriguez, Kroos & Isco who ran their hearts out along with Varane who was simple spectacular as usual.

Lastly, a dream moment for Mexican Chicharito who has not had the best season & has spent most of his time in Madrid on the bench. The man is a hard worker, humble & tonight is the hero of Real Madrid with his winner. Football once again creates stars & dreams when you least expect, or when you believe in yourself enough. 

Atletico de Madrid go out of the competition with their heads high as they put in a brave & noteworthy show. However, as mentioned, they speculated too much & paid the price. 

Real Madrid joins fellow Spanish Football Club FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich & Juventus as the last four remaining teams only awaiting now to know their match ups in semi-finals. At this stage-phase of Champions League all 4 are the "creme de la creme" of European Football & its all up for grabs.

POSSIBLE TEAM LINE UPS REAL MADRID - AT MADRID | CHAMPIONS LEAGUE qUARTER FINAL

The 1º st leg UEFA Champions League quarter - final finished 0 - 0. Tonight Real Madrid hosts city rival Atletico de Madrid in the 2º leg return match with everything still open. Mayor game for both sides, Real Madrid has not the Liga title assured & Champions League is the only current viable title left for them in this season. While Atletico de Madrid sits fighting for third spot on the Liga table & remembers how the Champions League title slipped from their fingers in the last second in last years Final precisely at the hands of Real Madrid.

Real Madrid - At Madrid Champions League Q/final 2015

Real Madrid goes into this game "technically" weakened. They have lost key players like Modric, Bale & Benzema to injury, plus Marcelo to yellow card accumulation. For Atletico de Madrid it is all the contrary & goes in with their "Gala team" & with all men available. Atletico de Madrid are slightly favourites.

The speculation on the starting line-ups, especially Real Madrid, are big talking points pre-match today both in media & on the street. Real Madrid Coach Ancelotti has to practically reorganize the team & everyone has an opinion. The decision by Ancelotti is super important for a super important match as not only is the Clubs continuation in the competition in play tonight but perhaps the job of Ancelotti as Real Madrid Coach.

Spanish Sports paper "Sport" has elaborated the above infograph & speculates on the most probable starting 11 line-ups for Real Madrid & Atletico de Madrid tonight

The Atletico de Madrid starting 11 seems clear:

Oblak, Juanfran, Miranda, godin, Siquiera, Gabi, Tiago, Koke, Arda, Griezmann & Mandzukic.

The Real Madrid starting 11 has been deduced with what Ancelotti has available at hand:

Casillas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao, Kroos, Illaramendi, Isco, James, Chicharito & Cristiano Ronaldo.

There is debate pre-match if this is the definite 11 as some think Khedira could go in for Illaramendi or Pepe could take a midfield position as done under Mourinho in past occasions. Either way it is speculation & rumour with the final 11 players of each teams announced officially 45 mins before the match.

Top match, perhaps the most important of the season for both Clubs where there can only be one winner. May the better team win.

FC BARCELONA 2 PSG 0 | BARÇA INTO SEMIS WITH 5-1 AGG Q/FINAL WIN

Spanish Football Club FC Barcelona defeated 2 - 0 Paris St Germain tonight in their 2º leg UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE return quarter-final match, thus eliminating PSG with a total aggregate score-result of 5 - 1. Its the 8th time in the last 10 years that Barça reaches the semi-final stage of the European competition & they look optimum. 

FC BARCELONA TEAM PHOTO VS PSG IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2015

Above is a team photo of the FC Barcelona starting 11 tonight & it is their "Gala line-up" - with exception of goalie Claudio Bravo who is for La Liga. 

Paris St Germain went into this 2º leg return game with Ibrahimovic & Veratti back & with some hope that they may be able to turn around the 1 - 3 result from Paris. But after the kick-off it became clear that things would be difficult for PSG as Barça took control. Pressure Football, rapid passing & an inspired Andres Iniesta broke through in the 14th min to find Neymar who scored the opener. It was demoralising for the French. 

FC BARCELONA VS PSG CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2015

PSG gave Barça goalie Stegen little work & it was not long until Dani Alves hooked a pass into the goal square to find Neymar who headed the second in the 33rd min. This was the definite final nail in the PSG "coffin" & put things into the "almost impossible realm".

FC Barcelona changed & rested Iniesta in the second half to give Xavi Hernandez a run & extend his record games in Champions League. With this it was business as usual for Barça which control PSG in the 2º half & could have scored some more goals. As a spectator Paris St Germain was somewhat disappointing, however the early Barça goal must have solidly hammered their spirits.  

Tomorrow the other Champions League Q/Final is on show with Real Madrid playing Atletico de Madrid after the 1º st leg gave a 0 - 0 result. Top match which could give the next opponent that Barça could face in the semis. Stay tuned!

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