The road to Paris has reached the crunch sequence as the four sides battle it out for places in the Champions League showpiece.
It is up to Real Madrid and Villarreal to try and bring the Champions League crown back to Spain after three years.
Manchester City vs Real Madrid
Man City eked out a goal-friendly 4-3 win over Madrid in a scintillating contest at the Etihad Stadium to earn a narrow lead ahead of the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva were on the scoresheet for Pep Guardiola’s rampaging side as the Cityzens preserved their imperious home form in European action.
Man City have not lost at home in major European competition since 2018, yet they will have to defy their underwhelming continental away form to capitalise on a slender first-leg advantage.
Guardiola’s men have won just two of their five away matches this Champions League season (D1, L2), with both victories coming at sides outside Europe’s top-five leagues.
City’s form woes on hostile turf should hand Madrid’s hopes of pulling off another second-leg comeback a boost following a spirited performance in England.
Vinicius Junior’s brilliant solo goal, coupled with another brace from in-form striker Karim Benzema, left Los Merengues with legitimate chances of delivering another upset.
With a single point away from clinching the La Liga title, Carlo Ancelotti’s side will turn their attention towards the second leg in Madrid, hoping to emulate their last-16 success against Paris Saint-Germain.
Ancelotti’s vast experience in these high-octane affairs comes in handy as Los Merengues bid to qualify for a record-extending 17th Champions League showpiece.
However, it is fair to admit they were lucky to escape Manchester with a one-goal margin defeat, given that City wasted numerous clear-cut chances to build a more sustainable lead.
Madrid’s defensive frailties came to light in England, and another similar performance would probably induce another semi-final elimination following last season’s 3-1 aggregate defeat to Chelsea.
Man City should capitalise on their inspiring first-leg showing and reach back-to-back Champions League finals for the first time in the club’s history.
The upcoming return leg in the Spanish capital will be available to watch live online via soccer streams.
Liverpool vs Villarreal
Champions League surprise package Villarreal were thoroughly outclassed by high-flying Liverpool, who strolled to a 2-0 first-leg win at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side came knocking on Geronimo Rulli’s door on multiple occasions in the first half, but a lack of the finishing touch resulted in a goalless half-time score.
As said by The Telegraph, the Anfield chiefs have opened talks with the German manager over a contract extension.
Klopp’s current deal expires in 2024, but the Merseyside powerbrokers are keen to tie him down to a new one as soon as possible.
Despite failing to score from 13 first-half attempts, the Reds never lost their cool and maintained the pressure from the second-half offset in pursuit of an all-important deadlock-breaker.
Pervis Estupinan’s unfortunate own goal eight minutes into the second half came as the reward for Liverpool’s persistency and an utterly dominant performance until that point.
Only two minutes after the Ecuadorian’s blunder, Sadio Mane turned home an inch-perfect through ball from Mohamed Salah to sink the Yellow Submarine.
In addition to another sublime attacking display, Liverpool were equally impressive at the back, restricting Villarreal to a single shot on goal throughout 90 minutes.
Now in firm control of this tie, the Merseyside heavyweights are in pole position to maintain their outstanding all-time semi-final record in the Champions League semi-finals.
They have progressed from nine of their 11 previous last-four ties in Europe’s elite competition.
It feels the Spaniards cannot do much to jeopardise another aggregate triumph for the six-time European champions.
Villarreal may have ousted Juventus and Bayern Munich in the last two knock-out rounds, but the Reds are currently on another level.
With Unai Emery’s men likely to leave massive space behind, Liverpool’s deadly counter-attacking football should thrive at La Ceramica, resulting in another comprehensive win.
- Arsenal vs Bodo/Glimt Preview – Prediction, how to watch & potential line-ups
- Omonia vs Manchester United Preview – Prediction, how to watch & potential line-ups
- Saudi Arabia wins bid to host 2029 Asian Winter Games
- Chelsea vs AC Milan Preview – Prediction, how to watch & potential line-ups
- Manchester City vs Copenhagen – Prediction, how to watch & potential line-ups
- Liverpool vs Rangers Preview – Prediction, how to watch & potential line-ups
- Eintracht Frankfurt vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview – Prediction, how to watch & potential line-ups
- Mikel Arteta’s response on whether Arsenal are genuine Premier League title contenders
- Former Super Bowl MVP urges the Steelers to adopt a ‘winning attitude’
- Manchester City vs Manchester United Preview – Prediction, how to watch & potential line-ups