Thursday, April 24, 2014

Is there a favorite in the Champions League?

Real Madrid are 1-0 up, but there are few of us who think Bayern won't score at least once in the second leg.

Chelsea are very hard to watch, but Jose Mourinho knows how to win the Champions League, and he got exactly what he wanted from the first leg.

So are the teams that were away from home in a better position than the Madrid clubs? Or is it all still very even?

Real surprised Bayern with their counterattacking approach in the first leg, but with Ronaldo at 50% and Bale sick, maybe Ancelotti did the right thing. They soaked up the pressure really well and Bayern didn't have many great chances. Gotze has one and Muller another, but they were late on once Real had to reshuffle after Pepe's injury. Cristiano had a great chance to make it 2-0, and I feel they may rue that miss. Bayern won't be as blunt again in attack at home, and one goal there could bring three. They may have to score 3 though as Bayern's defense was brutally exposed by the pace of Ronaldo, Bale and Di Maria - and you have to think they'll try and exploit that again.

It's hard to discuss the Atletico Madrid v Chelsea game without wanting to fall asleep. Chelsea played 6 at the back for most of the game and limited Atletico to deep crosses to the back post where Terry and Cahill bossed Diego Costa. Chelsea offered nothing going forward, and may as well not have played Fernando Torres up front. He gets a lot of criticism, but was so isolated he must have wondered if Jose was just hanging him out to dry. But having kept the clean sheet away, the impetus will be on Chelsea to attack at home. I don't think they will unless Eden Hazard plays. Atletico are very dangerous on the counter, but Mourinho's set-up showed that they don't have that many ideas if you get lots of men behind the ball. Expect more of the same with one goal settling the tie.

So to answer my own question, no there isn't a favorite. I predict the overall winner coming from the Real Madrid/Bayern Munich tie, but I can't even pick a winner of either semi-final.