The Champions League semi-final draws have been made, and they make for interesting reading. With four teams representing four different nations, four of Europe’s elite will compete in two semi-final matches for the opportunity to be crowned kings of European football.
The final for the Champions League will be held on Saturday 26th May in Kiev, Ukraine. As for the semi-final matchups, Bayern Munich face current twelve-time champions, Real Madrid, and Liverpool face Roma, something of a derby day for record signing Mohamed Salah. The Spanish side are bidding for an unprecedented thirteenth title, one that would secure their spot in the footballing history books.
Liverpool vs Roma poses an interesting scenario, one that football fans have not seen for a while. The Reds, who overcame Manchester City with a 5-1 victory over two legs, last won the Champions League in 2005 in a thrilling encounter against AC Milan in Istanbul. For Roma however, this is the furthest they have progressed in this competition in the last ten years and will be keen to see it through to the end. Caught in the middle of the affair is Mohamed Salah, who was transferred from Roma to Liverpool for a fee of £34 million and has lit up the Premier League with his scintillating skill and phenomenal play. The English Twitter account for AS Roma tweeted a message to Salah just moments after the announcement was made, saying “We’ll be opponents for 180 minutes, but whatever happens we’ll remain friends for life. Looking forward to seeing you again, @22mosalah! #ASRoma #UCL #RomaLiverpool”.
It would be hard to pick a winner from this matchup. Based solely on the performances in the quarter finals, Liverpool pose a more dangerous threat going forward with the attacking prowess of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah leading the line. But their defensive frailties in the league this season cannot go ignored, and despite some good results of late, there is always the fear in Reds fans’ hearts that something will go wrong at the back.
Bayern Munich know that they have some work to do to overcome the current reigning champions, Real Madrid. The Spanish club almost succumbed to an incredible comeback against Italian giants Juventus in the quarter final before winning the match 4-3 after a late penalty courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the big news came just minutes before the draw was made. Bayern Munich announced that they would be replacing their current head coach, Jupp Heynckes, with Frankfurt boss Niko Kovac at the end of the season. Madrid, who have won this competition in three of the last four years will be looking to make it four from five and with the league title no longer an opportunity for silverware, Zinedine Zidane will be more determined than ever to make sure his side take home the trophy once again.
Whatever the outcome, rest assured that the semi-finals will provide fireworks for footballing fans worldwide over the two legs. Liverpool play host to Roma at Anfield on Tuesday 24th April before the return leg on Wednesday 2nd May, and Bayern Munich will host Real Madrid on Wednesday 25th April before travelling to Madrid for the second leg on Tuesday 1st May.