Print Edition - 2017-04-22 | Sports
Madrid teams to clash in semis
Apr 22, 2017-
Holders Real Madrid face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals as the city rivals do battle once more and French surprise-package Monaco take on Juventus, following the draw on Friday.
The all-Madrid showdown is a rerun of the 2014 and 2016 finals in Europe’s top club competition, with a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Real victorious on both occasions in tight, cagey affairs. Real will host Atletico at the Bernabeu on May 2 and Monaco are home to Italian champions Juventus on May 3, with the second legs the following week.
Going into the draw at Uefa headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland all four teams were making the usual noises: there is nothing to choose between any of them, they said publicly. But the 39-year-old Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon broke ranks, saying that he would prefer to avoid a wily Atletico side because they are out of the La Liga title race so can rest players for Europe.
Real Madrid, for whom Ronaldo hit a hat-trick as they saw off Bayern Munich in the quarters, are favourites with British bookmakers. But Juventus were hugely impressive in beating Barcelona 3-0 in the first leg and then holding the Spanish champions to a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp on Wednesday in a defensive masterclass.
Beaten Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has tipped Juventus to lift the trophy they last won in 1996 and they will be favourites against Monaco. French league
leaders Monaco are the outsiders but they have already claimed victims in Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals and Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur before that.
The French side—Buffon labelled them “feisty”—are full of attacking vim and have hit a staggering 141 goals in all competitions this season. And in teenage striking sensation Kylian Mbappe, 18, allied with a rejuvenated Radamel Falcao, they have the firepower to trouble any defence.
The final is scheduled for June in Cardiff.
Published: 22-04-2017 09:00