Can Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain prevent another All-English Champions League final?
Posted On May 3, 2021
For most of the 2010s, English clubs fought notoriously in the Champions League.
Chelsea won the competition in 2012, but it would take another six years before another Premier League club reached the final.
The self-proclaimed ‘best league in the world’ did not look so hot, but that changed in the 2018/19 season when we only got our second all-English final.
Liverpool drew a fantastic comeback against Barcelona at Anfield, while Tottenham Hotspur had their own memorable evening in Amsterdam, where they advanced to away goals after Lucas Mouras’ second half trick.
Two years later, and yet another entirely English final could be on the cards. Manchester City defeated Paris Saint-Germain away in their semi-final, while Chelsea welcome Real Madrid to Stamford Bridge after a 1-1 draw at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.
While Man City and Chelsea currently have the advantage, none of the ties have been decided yet, making this week’s recurring leg to watch Champions League TV.
Man City vs PSG
Man City were far from their brilliant best in Les Parc des Princes. For the first hour, they were on their hind legs and showed little threat.
However, Kevin De Bruyne’s lucky equalizer completely swung the balance in the game and they began to dominate. They found the winner again under somewhat fortunate circumstances, where Riyad Mahrez’s free kick snuck through a hole in the wall.
PSG travel to the Etihad Stadium and know they must score at least two goals to have a chance to advance.
Fortunately, Les Parisiens knows all about scoring goals. They have found the net 79 times in Ligue 1 – a number beaten only by Bayern Munich and Barcelona in Europe’s top five leagues.
Kylian Mbappe has scored 37 goals in all competitions, while Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Mauro Icardi and Moise Kean also pose a goal threat. With these forward-looking in form, they can hurt anyone.
However, they have not always been so potent. In the second round of their quarter-final draw with Bayern Munich, they failed to score despite having accumulated an expected goal of 1.5 (via FBref). Given their attacking talent, this is an unusual waste.
When they travel to Manchester, they have to fix this because they do not easily give them in. Only Atletico Madrid and Lille have conceded fewer league goals than Man City in the top-five leagues this season.
Not to mention, they will have to keep Pep Guardiola’s men out. After losing first-choice defensive midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye after her red card in the first leg, this could be a tough task.
But we know from the opening hours of the first stage that PSG can control the game against Man City. If they can hold this up for the entire 90 in the other leg, they may have a chance.
With both teams aiming to become first-time winners of the Champions League, an incentive is added to a game that is guaranteed to entertain.
Chelsea vs Real Madrid
This draw is quite well balanced, with the two sides playing a 1-1 draw in Madrid. As it stands, Chelsea have a small advantage, knowing that a 0-0 draw will see them through to the final.
This could be the biggest problem for Zinedine Zidane’s men. They boast one of the tightest defenses in Europe, but they are not as strong going forward, failing to score in three of their last six expulsions.
Maybe the last thing they needed was to meet a side that are just as good at the back. Since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel, the Blues have kept 17 clean sheets from 23 games.
Los Blancos’ top scorer is Karim Benzema with 27 in all competitions. Next on this list is defensive midfielder Casemiro, who has hit seven. Over confidence in Benzema for goals will be a serious concern.
Tuchel will know that lifting the Frenchman will be the key to reaching the final. If the 33-year-old does not score, it is unlikely that others will.
Fortunately for Real Madrid, stopping Benzema is much easier said than done. He proved in the first place that only one chance is all it can take for him to get on the scoreboard.
Nevertheless, if they are hoping to reach their fifth Champions League final in eight years, they need someone else to step up. Benzema is a great player, but he can not do it alone.
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