Given the shocks and surprises thus far (how did Barcelona lose?), fans should expect the unexpected as we gear up for the 2017-18 European Champions League semifinals.
We’re down to the final four as English Premier League side Liverpool takes on Roma of the Italian Serie A and Bayern Munich of the German Bundesliga faces Spanish La Liga giants Real Madrid.
Liverpool vs. Roma favorite: Liverpool
Real Madrid vs. Bayern favorite: Real Madrid
Overall favorite: Real Madrid
The bet365 odds on April 16 listed Bayern Munich as the favorites to win the first leg at 21/20 with Real Madrid 12/5 and a draw at 5/2. Also, Madrid is favored to capture the Champions League outright at 15/8 with Munich at 9/4.*
According to the bet365 odds on April 16, Liverpool is 8/15 favorites to win the first leg with Roma 9/2 and a draw 10/3. In addition, Liverpool is 9/4 to win the Champions League outright with Roma 9/1.
Liverpool hosts the first leg at Anfield on Tues. April 24 with the second leg in Rome on Wed. May 2. Bayern Munich hosts Real Madrid on Wed. April 25 with the rematch at the Santiago Bernabéu on Tues. May 1. The two winners clash in the final on Saturday, May 26 in Kiev, Ukraine.
Let’s look at each semifinal:
Liverpool vs. Roma
Liverpool reached the semifinals by beating English Premier League champions Manchester City 3-0 at home and 2-1 away for a convincing 5-1 win on aggregate. The Reds obviously had City’s number this year as they beat them three of four times in all competitions. Roma made it this far by being trounced 4-1 in Barcelona in the first leg of the quarterfinals and then pulling off a miraculous 3-0 victory at home in the second leg. The score was tied 4-4 on aggregate with the Italian side advancing due to the away-goals rule.
Liverpool aims for their sixth European Cup/Champions League title, while Roma is gunning for their first. Roma made it to the final of the 1983-84 European Cup in Rome, only to fall 4-2 in a penalty shootout to Liverpool after the game ended 1-1. Both Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah of Liverpool are tied for second in Champions League scoring this season (eight goals apiece), while teammate Sadio Mane has seven. In addition, James Milner leads the tournament in assists with eight and Firmino is second with five. The main threat for Roma will be striker Edin Dzeko, who has six goals in the event this year.
The two sides have met five times in competitive games in the past with Liverpool winning two, losing one and drawing the other two while outscoring Roma 5-2. This includes a win and loss at home along with a win and a draw away and a win in the European Cup Final in Rome. According to the bet365 odds on April 16, Liverpool is 8/15 favorites to win the first leg with Roma 9/2 and a draw 10/3. In addition, Liverpool is 9/4 to win the Champions League outright with Roma 9/1.
Bayern vs. Real Madrid
Bayern Munich advanced to the semifinals following a 2-1 away win over Sevilla in Spain and a 0-0 home draw back in Germany (for a 2-1 aggregate victory). Real Madrid reached the final four in highly controversial fashion. They downed Juventus 3-0 in Italy in the first leg after the hosts were reduced to 10 men. They then trailed 3-0 at home in the second leg and it looked like the tie would be heading to extra time. However, Real Madrid was awarded a penalty kick in the seventh minute of injury time, and it was converted by Cristiano Ronaldo. The Spanish side advanced 4-3 on aggregate.
With a win in the finals, this year’s Bundesliga champions could be crowned champions of Europe for the sixth time. Meanwhile, Real Madrid hopes to extend their title record to 13 and capture their third in a row. Madrid may have the edge since Ronaldo is the tournament’s top scorer this season with 15 goals, but Bayern’s scoring is more evenly spread out. Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have met 24 times competitively in the past with each team winning and losing 11 games and drawing the other two. The goal scoring has been just as close with Madrid outscoring Munich 37-36.
The teams have met in seven previous semifinal showdowns with Bayern winning four of them to Real’s two. However, in the past five games between the teams Real has won all five of them while outscoring Bayern 13-4.
*The odds were correct at the time of publishing.