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The Champions League semi-finals get underway this week with two truly mouth-watering ties on Tuesday and Wednesday. Liverpool, who unexpectedly beat Manchester City by a wide margin, face Roma, unlikely victors over Barcelona. The other semi-final pitches together two giants of the European game, as Real Madrid travel to Germany to take on Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. Two huge matches await as the four teams vie for a place at the pinnacle of European football, and while fans will watch with hearts in mouths, neutrals are in for a thrilling midweek of high-octane action.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool confounded pundits and punters alike as they beat Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions 3-0 in the first leg of their quarter-final at Anfield, and they were even more impressive in seeing out the job with a 2-1 win at the Etihad in the second leg. Roma, meanwhile, produced one of the comebacks of the Champions League as they fought back from 4-1 deficit against Barcelona to win the second leg 3-0 and qualify on away goals. The two fiercely attacking sides will go head-to-head on Tuesday night and it promises to be a game full of fireworks.
Real Madrid looked home and hosed after their 3-0 win at Juventus in their quarter-final first leg but had to rely on a 98th-minute Ronaldo penalty to see them through at home after inexplicably falling to a 3-0 deficit at the Bernabeu to the Italians. Bayern squeezed past Sevilla in their last eight tie but questions are left to be answered after two uninspiring performances.
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Let’s get straight into the betting with a punt on Liverpool to win and both teams to score at a reasonable price of 19/10 2.90 +190 1.90 1.90 -0.53 with Betway.
The Reds are a formidable outfit at Anfield, as Manchester City discovered in the quarter-finals, and in Mo Salah they have a striker in red-hot form. The Egyptian has just scooped the PFA Player of the Year award and barely a game goes by where he doesn’t find the back of the net. Roberto Firminho and Sadio Mane could easily be overshadowed but both fellow frontmen have helped themselves to goals in a remarkable season under Klopp. Preparation for this game was spoiled by a late West Brom fightback in the Premier League over the weekend for a 2-2 draw, and surprisingly, the relegation-bound Baggies are the only side to beat the Reds at Anfield this season. That was a 3-2 FA Cup defeat but Liverpool are yet to lose a Premier League or Champions League game in front of the Kop this term. They’ve scored 13 without reply in the last five at Anfield but conceded in each of the previous six at home, and like any Klopp side, are not renowned for clean sheets.
Roma demonstrated their ability to score goals away from home in a 3-3 group stage draw with Chelsea earlier in the competition, and that late Dzeko goal at the Nou Camp against Barcelona made all the difference in the quarter-final. The Yellow and Reds are a distant third behind Juventus and Napoli in Serie A but a vastly experienced squad has been more than capable in the Champions League. They topped a group containing Chelsea and Atletico Madrid before seeing off Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16 and recording that marvellous turnaround against Barca. Roma are quick on the break and will be ready to capitalise on any gaps left at the back as Liverpool push forward. A defeat seems probable but an away goal will be the aim as Roma look to stay in the tie ahead of next week’s second leg.
Odds of 14/5 3.80 +280 2.80 2.80 -0.36 with 888Sport about a Real Madrid win are too good to pass up despite Bayern’s hugely impressive home record.
The German side have won 18 and drawn 3 of 21 home games this season and have won the Bundesliga at a canter again. However, two second-half Ronaldo goals helped to beat them 2-1 here at the quarter-final stage last season and there are questions over whether they are still able to compete at the very highest level. Robert Lewandowski is undoubtedly one of Europe’s best strikers but the likes of Robben and Ribery are entering the twilight of their careers. It took two deflected goals to fight back from 1-0 down away at Sevilla in the quarter-final first leg, and the 0-0 draw in the second leg was a cagey affair. Real Madrid are a class above Sevilla domestically – 20 points separate them in La Liga – and this is easily the toughest test Bayern have faced all season.
Ronaldo’s overhead kick in Juventus was hailed as one of the greatest Champions League goals but the Portuguese maverick might have enjoyed the winner in the Bernabeu just as much as he pulled his side through yet another European tie. Real are chasing a third consecutive Champions League title and with the quality in their ranks, it’s easy to see them pulling it off. Kroos, Isco, Modric and Casemiro have developed into a well-oiled midfield machine while Benzema provides the perfect foil for Ronaldo in attacking areas. At Juventus, Madrid were clinical on the break, and part of Bayern’s problem here will be dealing with that counter-attack. The Germans will aim to take a first leg lead with them to Spain but any space left in behind will be ruthlessly exploited by the Galacticos. At the odds, Ronaldo and co. are worth a decent bet to repeat their victory of last season on Wednesday night.
Liverpool to win and both teams to score
Tuesday 24th April, 19:45 GMT
Odds: 19/10 2.90 +190 1.90 1.90 -0.53
Real Madrid to beat Bayern Munich
Wednesday 25th April, 19:45 GMT
Odds: 14/5 3.80 +280 2.80 2.80 -0.36
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