The Elite Quartet of Bayern, Barcelona, Madrid & Juventus Enter UEFA Champions League Semifinals

Champions League Semifinals 2015Over two days on April 21 & 22, 2015, four second-leg quarterfinals in the UEFA Champions League were played at Munich, Monaco, Madrid and Barcelona to decide the semifinalists for this year’s UEFA Champions League. After the draw in Nyon on April 24, 2015, the line-up will emerge that will dictate which two finalists will play in Berlin on June 06, 2015. Bayern Munich played brilliant football in the second leg after Porto FC had beaten them 3-1 in first leg in Portugal. They stormed back with a 6-1 second-leg victory at Munich on Tuesday to make it 7-4 on aggregate and sealed their semifinal berth. On the same day at Camp Nou, FC Barcelona shut the doors on Paris Saint-Germain with two goals from Neymar and with their 3-1 win in the first-leg at Paris, FCB became the second team to ensure the semifinal berth. On April 22, 2015, AS Monaco held Juventus to a goalless draw but the Italian Club’s 1-0 first-leg win was enough to take them to the semifinals. The last match on April 22 pitted Real Madrid against city-mates Atletico de Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu, where the home team scored a 1-0 victory. These teams had also ended goalless in their first-leg game and therefore the victory on April 22 proved decisive in taking Real Madrid into last four.

Bayern Munich faced FC Porto at Munich on Tuesday with odds stacked against them after their 1-3 loss at Porto on April 15. But Bayern played attacking football from the kick-off and wiped out the 2-goal deficit within the first quarter of the match. In 14th minute, Thiago Alcantara sent a zooming header into the goal after he was fed a cross by Bernat. Eight minutes later, Jerome Boateng erased the deficit, when he rose to his full height to connect to a corner taken from right. Bayern shot into the lead in 27th minute, when Robert Lewandowski didn’t err in taking advantage of a cross from Philipp Lahm that came to him via Thomas Muller. Two more goals were scored before halftime from Muller’s deflection in 36th minute and Lewandowski’s effort in the 40th minute. For FC Porto, Colombian Jackson Martinez scored in the 73rd minute to make the score 5-1 but in the 88th, Xabi Alonso produced a memorable free-kick from 25 meters that swung into the top corner to send the fans into raptures even as Munich finished the 6-1 victory to take their aggregate score to 7-4.

On the same day at Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain were destroyed by FC Barcelona. FCB had excelled in the first leg as well at Paris, where they scored a 3-1 road win. Egged on by a huge support at Camp Nou, FCB took the ball in the visitors’ half at the start itself. In 14th minute, Andres Iniesta dodged three defenders and laid a pass to Neymar. The Brazilian ran ahead of David Luiz and went around the Paris goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu before slotting in a beautiful goal to take FCB 1-0 ahead. Barcelona continued the momentum and made several attempts at the Paris goal. However, in 34th minute, Neymar got his second goal, when he headed a brilliant cross from Daniel Alves that took Barcelona’s aggregate lead to 5-1. Afterwards, the game settled into an energy-conservation routine for FCB and ended 2-0 in their favor.

In Wednesday’s first game at Monaco, AS Monaco showed lot of promise against Juventus. They ran purposefully with vigor and tried their best against the visitors. With their 1-0 first-leg victory at Turin on April 14, Juventus merely wanted to protect their goal. That approach made the game dull at times but overall, it appeared like a cat-and-mouse game. On a few occasions, Monaco forward Geoffrey Kondogbia came close to scoring but he faced a rock in the Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Until halftime, most of Monaco’s good chances were already taken and foiled. In the last 20 minutes, the hosts tried to score again but Juventus had fortified their defense. Towards the end, Monaco’s Andrea Pirlo almost grabbed victory for his team but his powerfully struck shot just rattled the crossbar. With the drawn game, Juventus sailed into the semifinal with 1-0 score on aggregate.

 

The last match in the second-leg QFs was played at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid between two Spanish giants. After the two teams had drawn a blank in the first-leg on April 14, they met again on April 22 for the crunch game. Since their Lisbon encounter of May 2014, Real Madrid suffered from a psychological drawback of a winless streak that included three draws and four defeats against their city rivals. In addition, they also had the handicap of playing without the injured Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric. Moreover, Marcelo was serving a one-match suspension. Carlo Ancelotti asked Sergio Ramos to play in midfield, pushed James Rodríguez to play forward to replace Bale and Javier Hernandez filled in for Karim Benzema. In the end, Ancelotti’s gamble paid off, When Javier Hernández struck in the 88th minute and Real Madrid made their fifth consecutive semifinal appearance in the UEFA Champions League despite Atletico playing with a solid defense.

R K Gupta

R K Gupta

Mr. RK Gupta has been a prolific Kridangan writer on major international sport-events for last two years. Basically a Mechanical Engineer and Administrative Management Post Graduate, Mr. Gupta took to blog-writing as a hobby after his retirement in 2011. He graduated to full-time sports-writing after joining Kridangan.com in 2013. Most of Mr. Gupta’s posts are topical and analytical in nature; completely distinct from usual media reports. His narration on popular sports-events lends uniqueness to the reporting and makes it enjoyable for global sports readership.
R K Gupta

R K Gupta

Mr. RK Gupta has been a prolific Kridangan writer on major international sport-events for last two years. Basically a Mechanical Engineer and Administrative Management Post Graduate, Mr. Gupta took to blog-writing as a hobby after his retirement in 2011. He graduated to full-time sports-writing after joining Kridangan.com in 2013. Most of Mr. Gupta’s posts are topical and analytical in nature; completely distinct from usual media reports. His narration on popular sports-events lends uniqueness to the reporting and makes it enjoyable for global sports readership.

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