Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Villaflor: Super semis


AN ALL-ENGLISH final is fast shaping up in the Champions League as the first leg of the super semifinals wrapped up.

After Chelsea drew Real Madrid 1-1 at the Santiago Bernabeau Wednesday, April 28, 2021 Manchester City stunned Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 at the Parc des Princes Thursday, April 29.

Those away goals could prove telling in the second leg slated next week, and unless Real and PSG muster enough will to pull off comeback wins, then Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey would most likely play host to Chelsea and Manchester City in the finals on May 29.

But let us not get ahead of ourselves.

It is still anybody's ball game at this stage, given the quality of both sides. Real's Zinedine Zidane vs. Chelsea's Thomas Tuchel has proven to be a top-notch tactical battle of two gifted managers with equally strong sides.

The 1-1 draw was well deserved as the numbers both teams generated were nearly identical, particularly in terms of possession.

The return leg on May 6 at Stamford Bridge could be a case of who blinks first, even as Chelsea carries with it an away goal advantage.

Manchester City, on the other hand, has a more comfortable two away-goal advantage when it hosts PSG on May 5.

Mauricio Pochettino's wards need to blank City with two goals to advance, although a 2-1 result in PSG's favor would take the semis to extra time.

But that is easier said than done if Pep Guardiola's side returns with another solid game, such as its nearly dominant winning performance in Paris.

Trailing 1-0 after just 15 minutes when Marquinhos converted a towering header, City regrouped in the second half and churned in two unanswered goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez.

PSG will have to come up with something to stop an influential, in-form Phil Foden from creating chances and sowing terror up front.

City sits comfortably on top of the Premier League with a 10-point lead, so Guardiola can afford to focus the team's energies in Europe for the second leg. It's not over for PSG, but overcoming City will be a mountain to climb.


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