Well well well. Who would have thought it? Barcelona and Real Madrid, the mighty Clasico superpowers both beaten in the Champions League semi-finals and both returning to Spain with their tails between their legs. Although neither tie is over by any stretch of the imagination, Chelsea and Bayern Munich have given themselves a fighting chance of making the final, with the online betting experts starting to believe in the power of the underdog.
Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich
In an evenly-matched tie, Bayern’s resolve and grit saw them through at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday. Franck Ribery opened the scoring for the hosts before Mesut Ozil equalised against his countryman, only for Mario Gomez to pop up with a last-minute winner. Madrid will be smarting from the nature of the defeat, with Jose Mourinho’s usual confidence taking a bit of a beating due to the audacity of the Germans in getting a winner.
Although it is advantage Bayern in this tie, not many will be writing off Madrid in getting through to the final at home. With Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema on fire, the Santiago Bernabeu outfit have scored over 100 goals this season in La Liga, and have dispatched almost everyone this season at home.
The Germans, for all the attacking abilities of Ribery, Gomez, Muller and Robben, have a slightly questionable defence who will come under pressure in the return fixture. The likes of Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng will need to play out of their skins to prevent the advances of the Spaniards, and will be the making or breaking of Bayern’s season.
Chelsea vs Barcelona
Revenge was in the air at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, as the west London club tried to make amends for previous eliminations from the Champions League at Barcelona’s expense. A last-minute, referee-assisted, Andres Iniesta goal broke Blues hearts back in 2009, but no such shock came this time round.
A Didier Drogba strike on the stroke of half-time sent the Stamford Bridge crowd into ecstasy, and a well-marshalled and organised defensive effort thwarted Messi and his henchmen from getting the much-vaunted away goal. The Blues will go to Camp Nou ready to go toe-to-toe with the Catalans, but will more than likely need to score to progress. Don’t forget that Arsenal beat Barca last season before being beaten and bullied in Spain, and Roberto Di Matteo’s men can expect an onslaught from the first minute next week.
Drogba’s eye for goal and rejuvenation under Di Matteo is there for all to see, and although the Ivory Coast international can frustrate with his playacting and other undesirable traits, was the talisman for a home victory. The African hitman will need to try to find the net again next week, and pray that John Terry and Blues rearguard can stand up to the challenge of facing Messi on Catalonian soil.