Tips & Predictions

Chance of another all-English final?

With both Manchester City and Liverpool holding narrow advantages over Real Madrid and Villarreal, it’s still all to play for in the semi-final second legs, with a place in the Champions League final on the line.

We preview both of this week’s ties below.

Villarreal v Real Liverpool

Liverpool secured a dominant 2-0 win in their first leg meeting with Villarreal at Anfield, as their peppering of the opposition goal finally paid off with two goals in the space of as many minutes soon after half-time.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are out to reach their third Champions League final in five years and on the evidence of their first-leg win it’s difficult to see their Spanish opposition overturning the deficit. The Reds had 74% of possession and 19 shots to a solitary Villarreal effort at Anfield, underlining the extent of their dominance. Sadio Mane grabbed his fourth Champions League goal of the campaign and is 7/5 to score again in the second leg, while Liverpool’s top goalscorer this season, Mohamed Salah, is 19/20 to take his Champions League tally to 9 for the campaign.

Understandably, Liverpool are an incredibly short price to qualify for the final (1/40), and they are strong favourites to win in Spain at 7/10. Liverpool to win by two or more goals might offer more value at a boosted 15/8.

Villarreal look to have a mountain to climb, but they can take some hope from the strength of their home record at the Estadio de la Cerámica, where they have lost just twice in 17 games this season.

Unai Emery’s side are not ones to roll over but qualifying for a first Champions League final looks unlikely at 16/1, while they are a 19/5 chance to win on the night.

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Real Madrid v Manchester City

Manchester City and Real Madrid served up one of the greatest Champions League ties in recent years with a breathless first-leg encounter at the Etihad Stadium. City looked to be cruising after two goals inside 11 minutes, before Karim Benzema pulled one back before half-time. A goal each followed soon after the interval, but Bernardo Silva restored City’s two-goal advantage on 74 minutes. However, there was a final twist, as Benzema gave Real hope from the penalty spot, ensuing City take only a 4-3 lead on aggregate into the second leg.

City had the bulk of possession in Manchester, with 60% and the range of their attacking threats was well advertised with four different names on the scoresheet. One of those was Gabriel Jesus, who seems to be hitting form at just the right stage of the season and has five goals in his last three games. The Brazilian is 7/4 to find the net against Real.

These two sides have very different European pedigrees. Madrid are the 13-time European champions, while City reached their first Champions League final last season. That defeat to Chelsea is sure to be a source of hurt for Pep Guardiola and his side and that could just give them the extra edge to get a result in the Spanish capital. City are 1/5 favourites to qualify and 21/20 to secure a win on the night.

Madrid recently secured victory in La Liga and that could well give them the confidence they need to overturn their first-leg deficit. With a player of Benzema’s calibre in their side they are always going to be a potent goal threat. The Frenchman is the leading scorer in the Champions League this season with 14 goals and is 17/20 to add to his tally at the Bernabeu, while he’s a boosted 9/2 to score first.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side will need to be at their very best if they are to qualify for their first Champions League final since 2018, and are 10/3 to do so.

Could we be in for another classic at the Santiago Bernabeu?

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