Real Madrid and Barcelona moved a step closer towards the very first “El Clasico” Champions League Final this week by comfortably winning their Quarter Final ties against APOEL and AC Milan respectively. Real Madrid overcame their Cypriot opponents 8-2 on aggregate, winning away 3-0 before ending APOEL’s fairytale jounrey 5-2 at the Bernabeu, while defending champions, Barcelona, who were held to a goalless draw in Milan last week finished off Milan at the Nou Camp, winning 3-1.
Just two legs of the Semi Final now stands in the way of the two Spanish Giants meeting in what would arguably be a dream final. Real must overcome Bayern Munich on the 17th and 25th April whilst Barcelona play Chelsea on the 18th and 24th of this month.
Bayern came through their Quarter Final tie in fine style defeating Marseille in both legs by 2-0, while Chelsea got the better of a plucky Benfica side also winning both legs and going through 3-1 on aggregate and both teams are more than capable of causing an upset.
It is the two Spanish sides who are the favourites to prgoress with an El Clasico Champions League final rated as an 8/11 chance whilst Barcelona are favourite to win the tournament at odds of 10/11 and Real Madrid a 5/2 chance. Bayern come next at 5/1 with Chelsea the outsiders of the quartet at 11/1.
Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena is hosting the final this year which gives the German side a huge incentive to beat Real Madrid and whilst they have a great squad which includes Arjen Robben, Mario Gomez, who has already scored 11 times in the Champions League this season and Bastian Schweinsteiger it is no match on paper for a Real Madrid which boasts Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Sergio Ramos and the ever reliable Iker Casillas and Madrid can be expected to be returning to Munich for the final.
In a similar vein, it is almost impossible to see how Chelsea can overcome a rampant Barcelona in the Semi Final. In fairness, under caretaker boss, Roberto Di Matteo, the Blues have done well to get to this stage of the competition but they did not look like potential tournament winners against Benfica in Tuesday’s second leg and if they are to cause an upset, getting a win from the first leg at Stamford Bridge will be crucial. However, over two legs, it is difficult to look beyond Messrs. Lionel Messi, Xabi, Iniesta and Fabregas not progressing to set up what stands to be a mouth watering spectacle between them and their great rivals on 19th May.