The Champions League returns on Tuesday night, with Liverpool aiming to claim a first leg advantage over Roma. Those two really wouldn’t have expected to have made it this far in the tournament a few months ago, but based on their recent exploits you certainly can’t write either of them off for potential glory. On top of that, Wednesday sees the mammoth tie between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
It’s a pretty huge week of European semi-final action, with both the Champions League and Europa League having four representatives from four different nations taking to the field this week. There’s still a chance of seeing that Liverpool v Arsenal clash in the UEFA Super Cup in Estonia come August, but what chance do the pair realistically have this week? Ahead of the four semis, here is our preview and predictions across the two competitions.
Tuesday 24th April 2018
Liverpool v Roma (19:45) – Both Teams to Score (7/10 with Betfair)
Liverpool will be delighted with the fact that they’ve made it this far, after a mixed season in the Premier League. Beating Man City 5-1 over two legs was impressive, and many are now expecting a heavy win in the last four against a Roma side who were considered one the weakest in the last round. Mind you, Liverpool were seen as one of the less threatening group winners. However, those assumptions aren’t looking too smart now, based on their quarter-final displays.
Roma may have lost 4-1 in the Nou Camp, but they didn’t deserve that big of a defeat. They were cut apart at key moments, but overall they impressed in the tie and in the away trip. We expect them to do the same on Merseyside, as long as they can handle the rampant attack of Liverpool early on. While the Reds should break through, Roma’s defensive base and tactical fluidity should help them in this trip. The fact that they have Edin Dzeko causing problems at the other end is a bonus too, so we see them getting an away goal. Both teams to score is our tip here, at 7/10 with Betfair.
Wednesday 25th April 2018
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid (19:45) – Bayern Win (Evens with Betfred)
It’s hard to get a clash between two European heavyweights quite like this one. Matches between these two seem to be getting more frequent, but they’re still incredibly entertaining. The Bavarians will be out to make the most of their home leg, although their victory in Spain in the last round should set them up well for this one. After seeing how Real very nearly crumbled at home to Juventus, will the German champions have anything to fear in this clash?
Real seemed to be overwhelmed in that second leg, and they looked entirely incapable of dealing with aerial threats. With Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller leading the line for Bayern, expect the European champions to have a tough night dealing with balls whipped into the box. This is a Bayern side led by Jupp Heynckes, a man who has got two winners medals and a runners-up gong in this competition. He seems destined for another run to the final, so we’re backing a Bayern win on Wednesday night at evens with Betfred.
Thursday 26th April 2018
Arsenal v Atletico Madrid (20:05) – Under 2.5 Goals (3/4 with BetVictor)
Arsenal are hoping that they can take a first leg advantage back to Madrid in their tie with Europa League favourites Atletico Madrid. The Gunners have put everything else on hold to focus on Europe, and they’ll be hoping to see off an Atleti side which haven’t exactly torn up trees in European competition so far this term. While there was a lot of fear from Arsenal fans following this semi-final draw, they really shouldn’t be that worried, especially for the home leg. The Spanish side just went down 1-0 in Lisbon to Sporting in the last round, whilst a strong side were blown away 3-0 by Real Sociedad last Thursday.
We can’t see Atletico being that lax at the back here, especially against a nervy Arsenal who will miss Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang. The Gunners are looking defensively secure in this competition, but the Spaniards have three clean sheets in their last five, and they’re yet to concede more than one goal in a Europa League tie. We see attacks on both sides being shut down in a nervy first leg, and we think Arsenal might come away with a result. We like under 2.5 goals in this first meeting, with both sides looking solid at the back, yet massively under pressure to avoid defeat.
Marseille v Salzburg (20:05) – Marseille Win (7/10 with Coral)
Like the Liverpool v Roma tie, this should have been completely different. We would have expected Leipzig and Lazio to keep their leads from the first leg, but that was turned around quickly a week later. These two do feel like underdogs compared to the two heavyweights battling it out at the Emirates at the same time, but they’ll both fancy their chances of going all the way at this point. However, just who will take a first leg advantage from the clash between these two in France? On recent form, this could be another away struggle for Salzburg.
The hosts have now won seven of their last eight at home in this competition, so they should be out to pick up another win. Their last three here have seen them score 11 times in ties against Braga, Athletic Bilbao and Leipzig, so we expect them to punish a Salzburg side who have managed just one win in four away trips. The Austrians struggled with Lazio’s attack in Rome, and Marseille offer plenty of threats from all angles, so we’re backing a home win in this clash.