Tue, May 2, 8:35am by Head Editor
The first leg of both the UEFA Champions League’s semi-finals are set to hit the pitch on Wednesday and Thursday (AEST) with Real Madrid taking on their neighbours Atletico Madrid before AS Monaco host Juventus.
Let’s start at the home of the current champions – Real Madrid, who will be very confident as they haven’t lost at home this entire campaign, with 10 wins and two draws.
This is the fourth season in succession that these city rivals will face off in the knockout phase of this competition. It’s been one-way traffic in that time, with Los Blancos winning two and drawing two in that time.
This is a re-run of the 2013/14 and 2015/16 finals; Real Madrid claiming a 4-1 win and a penalty shootout victory respectively to lift the trophy on both occasions.
In team news, Gareth Bale is set to miss for Real with an ankle injury, as you’d expect with the powerhouse from the Bernabeu, they have a long list of replacements, including Colombia’s James Rodriguez.
Atletico Madrid will be without a recognised Right Back in this game as Juanfran, Sime Vrsaljko, and Jose Gimenez are all due to miss this game due to injury.
The following day, AS Monaco will host Juventus at the State Louis II. The last time that these clubs met in this competition was two seasons ago in the quarter-finals, when the Italian giants squeezed past the French club 1-0 over two legs.
It’s hard to see that happening again here though considering how much goalscoring talent both clubs have at their disposal. The hosts have scored a remarkable 95 goals this season in France, at an average of 2.8 goals per game.
At the forefront of their success has been Colombia’s Radamel Falcao who has dominated this season as Monaco’s top goalscorer with 26 in all competitions. He hasn’t done it all on his own though, 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe has 24 goals and 5 assists to his name this season, an amazing feat.
Although Monaco are free-scoring this season they have conceded the most goals of all the remaining teams in this tournament (1.6 per game). Juventus on the other hand, have the best defence in the competition, conceding just two goals in 10 games, including a masterclass against Barcelona in the quarters, when they won 3-0 over two legs.
Juve have been here before and know what’s needed to progress to the final. I like the $5 for Monaco to win but the visitors to score a crucial away goal to keep things tight heading into the second leg in Italy.
Kickoff for the Madrid derby is 4:45am Wednesday AEST, while the Monaco-Juventus clash will take place 24 hours later.
Real Madrid $1.80 v Atletico Madrid $4.50 Draw 3.70
Monaco $2.87 v Juventus $2.40 Draw $3.50
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