Despite the bookmakers suggesting otherwise before this week’s first legs, Bayern Munich and Chelsea made home advantage count and will take leads into their Champions League Semi Final second leg ties against Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. The question though is whether their slender leads will be enough to prevent an “El Clasico” Champions League final when the second legs are played next week in Spain.
The Bookmakers are sticking with their initial predictions and offer odds of 13/8 that the two Spanish Giants will be playing in the final next month at the Allianz Stadium in Munich.
Having secured a 2-1 lead with a second half stoppage time winner from the prolific Mario Gomez, Bayern will believe that they can win this tie, even if they have to withstand the pressure of Jose Mourinho’s side at the Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday.
The Germans showed enough to demonstrate to Real that they are in this tournament to win it whilst, Real Madrid once again flattered to deceive when up against elite opposition. Bayern have world class players in the form of Ribery and Robben and in Toni Kroos, they have a central midfield star who looked the best player on the pitch in Tuesday’s game. The 22 year old can do almost anything with a football at his feet but it is his long pass accuracy that could well catch the Spaniards out in the second leg and an away goal for Munich would really make this tie interesting.
Obviously home advantage and the away goal will play a very important part but Real’s boss, Jose Mourinho, will expect a lot more quality and commitment from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, who was only seen in patches on Tuesday evening. He did set up Real’s equalising goal for Ozil but only after missing a gilt-edged himself.
Mourinho did have one or two players who performed admirably, Pepe kept his discipline at the back, Benzema made a number of smart runs in attack and had a couple of goal bound shots saved, while Khedira and Ozil worked hard in midfield. However, should defenders Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao play as poorly again, then Bayern’s lively attack will be sure to seize a vital away goal.
Real’ 4/7 odds on to win the game in 90 minutes and 8/11 odds on to qualify, whilst the away win can be backed at 11/2 or 11/10 to qualify for the final and set up the first Champions League final where a team is playing at its home stadium.
In the other Semi Final, it is all well and good Barcelona boss, Pep Guardiola, suggesting that Chelsea are the favourites to go through to the final after scoring the only goal of the game in the First Leg on Wednesday evening but he knows that his team should have come away from Stamford Bridge two, perhaps three goals to the good but for a number of squandered opportunities.
Chelsea produced a performance of epic proportions to win the game but they will realise that Drogba’s goal was their only shot on target in 90 minutes and that Barcelona had the ball for a total of 80 minutes of the game. They will also realise that Barca hit the woodwork twice, had a clear chance missed by Cesc Fabregas and a couple more opportunities missed by Messi and Iniesta. Add to that two world class saves from Petr Cech and Barcelona must be thinkign that Chelsea’s good fortune cannot extend for 180 minutes.
To win at the Nou Camp however, Chelsea will have to be even more resolute in defence and hope that the Barcelona’s rare profligacy in front of goal continues for the next game. If it doesn’t and the home side find the net early then they are quite capable of winning comfortably.
Chelsea still has a mountain to climb and bookies are confident that the reigning European champions will progress to the final and are still heavily odds on to do so at 4/11 and to win in 90 minutes they are 1/4 with Chelsea rated a 12/1 chance!
The results from the first legs have certainly made the Champions League Semi Finals interesting but the dream “El Clasico” final still remains firmly in sight and the latest odds to win the Champions League still see Barcelona as the 6/5 favourites to become the first back-to-back winners of the competition in the Champions League era with Real Madrid rated an 11/4 chance. Bayern Munich are 4/1 and Chelsea a best price 7/1 chance.