Woods’ Champions League Semifinal Predictions
The quarterfinal leg of the UEFA Champions league was nothing short of breathtaking. Roma battled from a 4-1 deficit to Barcelona after the first leg to move on, while Liverpool dominated what many believe is the best team in Europe, Manchester City. Real Madrid, with the help of a late penalty kick, were able to withstand a Juventus comeback attempt, and Bayern did what they had to to beat Sevilla.
This year marks the first since 2010 that four nations are represented in the Champions League semifinals.
The semifinal leg gives us some great matchups after Friday morning's draw. Here are Woods' predictions for the semifinal round of the Champions League:
Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid
This matchup could easily be a final any other year. By the end of the two legs, these teams will have played each other 26 times in European play; the last five going to Real Madrid. Bayern come into this game with the Bundesliga wrapped up, but a lackluster showing against Sevilla, but one that was good enough to get them to the next round. Robert Lewandowski was beaten and battered in the quarterfinals, but managed to do enough damage in Sevilla's third of the field to cause havoc for the defense. The key for Bayern will be possession. If they can limit Madrid's activity on the ball and cause frustration for Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the Madrid attack, Bayern will have a great chance of moving on.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, need to keep up their stellar attacking play. Although they seemed to have gotten a little help from the referee to some against Juventus, Madrid was the more dominant side in the quarterfinals. Isco was especially crafty and created a ton of chances not only for himself, but Ronaldo as well. The worry for Madrid is their defense. Do they have enough quality bodies on their back line to handle the attack of Bayern, who will look toward their veteran players to get behind Madrid's defense. Sergio Ramos will be back following his one game suspension for yellow card accumulation, and Rafael Varane will likely be paired alongside.
This has the potential to be a great semifinal.
Prediction: Real Madrid (4-3 Agg.)
Liverpool vs Roma
Liverpool come into the semifinal for the first time since 2009 when they faltered to English rival, Chelsea. They now have a rematch of the 1984 European Final in front of them as they look to repeat their success against Roma. A classic beatdown of Manchester City (5-1 Agg.) in the quarterfinal round showed the world that Jurgen Klopp's men are the real deal. Mohamed Salah was brilliant once again and the front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane were nearly unstoppable against a team that has spent over 150M pounds on their defense in the last year. However, the star for LFC was their 19-year-old fullback Trent Alexander-Arnold who shut down Leroy Sane in both leg's. If Liverpool can stay healthy, and continue their stellar play in all areas of the pitch, this team could be the team of destiny.
LFC now face a Roma team that I characterize as "inexperienced experience". A team filled with veteran players like Eden Dzeko, Kevin Strootman, and Radja Nianggolan who have played at the highest level for so long, yet have never reached this round of the Champions League. Roma also have one of the best young goalkeepers in the world in Alisson Becker. The 25-year-old Brazilian has been in stunning form all season and is capable of making un-real saves, as he did against Barcelona. Roma will need to control the pace of the game in order to stay with Liverpool. If they allow Liverpool's attack to reach top gear, the fixture could easily be over in the first leg. Liverpool are a team that can score in bunches, so the Roma defense will have to be on their toes at all times.
This will be a fun matchup for fans who enjoy the atmosphere of European nights at both Anfield and Olympic Stadium.
Prediction: Liverpool (4-1 Agg.)