The road to Cardiff has reached its final stage. Four teams are set to go all out against each other in a battle to reach the UEFA Champions League final in Wales, and it starts tonight.
In the first semi-final, Real Madrid take on Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, the third edition of the Madrid derby this season. Real have had a stellar Champions League campaign, and remain unbeaten in the competition so far.
They are also at the top of the charts for the number of goals scored, having managed to find the net an incredible 28 times. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 7 of those, and is fifth on the list of top scorers this season, while also being second on the list of highest number of assists – the Portuguese superstar has six assists to his name, just two behind Neymar, who is out of the competition with Barcelona.
Los Blancos beat Bayern Munich to get to the semi-finals – albeit under controversial circumstances – and are attempting to become the first team to successfully defend the Champions League title, having won their 11th last season.
Atletico Madrid have had an average campaign by their standards. Their road to the semis has seen them lose just once so far, but it has hardly been an easy ride.
As opposed to their rivals, Atletico have only managed to score a meager amount of 13 goals. They struggled through to the semi-finals, beating a resilient Leicester City 2-1 on aggregate, and will not be favourites to beat their local rivals in the last four.
However, with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Diego Godin, Filipe Luis, and Jan Oblak amongst their ranks, they are unlikely to be pushovers, and have every chance of being the top dogs in Madrid.
In the second semi-final, AS Monaco face off against Juventus at the Stade Louis II. Monaco have been the surprise package of the tournament so far, defying all odds to make it to this stage of the tournament. The resurgence of Radamel Falcao has been key in Monaco’s free scoring run, as they have scored 21 goals in their Champions League campaign building up tomorrow’s semi-final.
However, the real star of the show has been 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe, who has scored 5 goals in the 7 matches he has played. Monaco also got through their quarter-final match against Borussia Dortmund under controversial circumstances, but deserved to win, as they put up an incredible display of ruthless finishing, scoring three in each leg.
This encounter is set to be an intriguing one, as Monaco’s ruthless forwards are set to come up against one of, if not the best defenses in football right now, with Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Dani Alves, and Alex Sandro set to start ahead of the evergreen Gianluigi Buffon between the sticks.
Their impenetrable defense is complimented by their lethal strike force, with Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala having an incredible season in front of goal and contributing to the Old Lady’s tally of 17 goals in the competition so far. With Miralem Pjanic pulling the strings alongside Sami Khedira, it will take the performance of their season for the French club to win.
Juventus, like fellow semi-finalists Real Madrid, are also unbeaten in the tournament so far, and will hope to extend that run against Monaco.