UEFA Champions League Semifinals: Bold Predictions for the Final 4 Remaining
Four teams remain in Europe's premier club competition, and I know which two will advance to next month's final.
Okay, so that's not actually true. Nobody knows, but with the Champions League semifinals set, I'm ready to make some bold predictions.
Did I go for an El Clasico finale? Some home cooking for Bayern in the final? A monumental upset?
Read on to find out.
Barcelona over Chelsea
First Leg: April 18, at Stamford Bridge
Second Leg: April 24, at Camp Nou
At first glance, this looks like quite a mismatch.
Chelsea are fifth in the English Premier League. Barcelona, the defending European champions, are second in Spain's La Liga.
But, Chelsea have been strong at home this season in the Champions League, and their fortunes are resurgent under caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo. In five Champions League home matches this season, the Blues have compiled a 100 percent record while outscoring their opponents 14-1.
Of course, Barcelona will present a tougher test than Bayer Leverkusen, Racing Genk, Valencia and Napoli.
Still, I can see Chelsea going for it in the first leg, attacking Barcelona early and possibly even taking a lead. There is, after all, some precedent of high-scoring matches between these two in London.
There's also a precedent of high drama between these clubs, but I don't expect anything quite so nail-biting this time.
I also find it highly doubtful that the Blues can pull off a win against this Barcelona team, in London or in Catalonia.
First Leg: Chelsea 2, Barcelona 2
Second Leg: Barcelona 2, Chelsea 0
Aggregate: Barcelona 4, Chelsea 2
Bayern over Real
First Leg: April 17, at Allianz Arena
Second Leg: April 25, at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
With each passing week, the possibility of an El Clasico final has felt increasingly inevitable.
Barcelona are the defending champs, but Real Madrid currently lead La Liga by six points. As the Champions League has worn on, Jose Mourinho's team has become the team to beat.
And I think Bayern will do just that.
The Bavarians will do what no Champions League team has this season, and that's beat Real Madrid in the first leg.
Bayern's attacking form has been outstanding, with Mario Gomez netting 11 times so far (second only to Lionel Messi). And he's not Bayern's only weapon.
Real will struggle to contain Arjen Robben on the wing, and Bayern's defense will do just enough over two legs to clinch a home game in the final.
Cristiano Ronaldo will dazzle as always, and Karim Benzema will continue his strong, recent form.
In other words, both teams are outstanding. I think this tie will be a classic, and it pains me that I have to make a prediction.
But, that's the point of this slideshow, so here goes.
I see Bayern winning the first leg at home and Real winning the second back in Spain. Each team will score an away goal, and Bayern will edge a tight penalty shootout.
They are Germans, after all.
First Leg: Bayern Munich 2, Real Madrid 1
Second Leg: Real Madrid 2, Bayern Munich 1 (a.e.t.)
Aggregate: Bayern Munich 3, Real Madrid 3 (Bayern win on penalties)