The semifinals will feature an encounter between Spanish and English sides.
By: Emmanuel Mendez
Semifinals are up next in the Champions League and feature two Spanish and two English clubs. These clubs managed to get through the quarter-finals in tough fixtures, respectively.
One of the Spanish clubs featured in the seminal this year is Villareal. After winning the Europa League last year, Villareal will appear in the semifinal of the Champions League for the first time since 2006. To get there, they had to defeat the odds of beating one of the tough opponents in Europe, Bayern Munich.
Villareal displayed good defensive and attacking attributes against the German giants in the first leg. Villareal scored early, in the 8th minute, by Arnaut Danjuma. Bayern tried to respond but had trouble breaking down the Spanish defense.
Villareal scored late in the first half again but was disallowed. During the second half, Bayern was attacking a lot, which led to Villareal looking dangerous on the counter, hitting the post, and missing clear chances.
The game ended 1-0 to Villareal.
Villareal tried to emulate the same strategy, but Bayern was relentless in the attack. They showed frustration because they still struggled against the defense setup of Villareal.
In the second half, Bayern finally scored, thanks to Robert Lewandowski. Bayern continued to score but couldn’t, and Villareal took the opportunity to look for a counter that could kill the game off, which they did.
In the 88th minute, Samuel Chukwueze scored off a beautiful counterattack play to tie the game and give a 2-1 aggregate score victory.
Villareal`s opponents are Liverpool, after getting past Benfica. Liverpool showed their class and top form in the first leg, winning 3-1 away from home, including Ibrahima Konate scoring a header off a corner kick and Sadio Mane doubling the reds in the first half.
Benfica improved in the second half and scored quickly as Darwin Nunez scored. Konate miss-hit the ball and fell right in the path for Nunez to strike.
Benfica would create chances, but Liverpool had clearer chances to score, and they did late in the game. Former Porto winger Luis Diaz scored going past the Benfica keeper, Vlachodimos.
In the second leg, Anfield witnessed a high-scoring even game. Like the first leg, Konate, in the 21st minute, opened the scoring with a header off a corner. There were about three-four disallowed goals but still included lots of goals. Benfica`s Goncalo Ramos equalized 10 minutes later.
The second half started lively, and after a mistake from the back of Benfica, Roberto Firmino scored a double in 10 minutes. The score was 3-1 for Liverpool. Benfica would respond with a goal by Roman Yaremchuk in the 73rd minute and then Nunez in the 82nd minute.
It was too late for an incredible comeback, and Liverpool advanced with a 6-4 aggregate score.
The Atletico Madrid and Man City game witnessed two opposite approaches to the game. The defensive Atletico frustrated many fans and Man City but managed to score in the first leg; City won 1-0.
City created so many chances but struggled to get past a deep defensive line of Atletico. That was a priority for the Spanish side because they took no shots during the entire game.
In the second leg, Atletico looked different from the first leg as they created chances and put pressure on City. City struggled to break down Atletico once again, but this time, Atletico looked dangerous on the counter and even led City to sit back.
The game ended 0-0, and City advanced with a 1-0 aggregate score.
The Real Madrid vs. Chelsea game delivered, and in the first leg, the masterclass of Karim Benzema was present. Madrid was clinical and dangerous when they approached the Chelsea penalty box.
Benzema scored a double in five minutes in the first half. Both goals were headers and beat Edouard Mendy easily.
Kai Havertz would get one back for Chelsea before halftime. Early in the second half, a mistake from Mendy and Antonio Rudiger led Benzema to strike and complete his hattrick.
Madrid was leading 3-1 into the second leg, and Chelsea was impressed and improved from the first game. Mason Mount scored early, in the 15th minute, to get Chelsea closer.
Rudiger scored a header off a corner in the second half to make it 2-0 and 3-3 on aggregate. Marcos Alonso had scored another for Chelsea but was disallowed over a controversial handball. Chelsea did get that third goal. They needed to turn it around after Timo Werner scored in the 75th minute.
Chelsea was going through and making a remarkable comeback, but a brilliant trivela assist from Luka Modric to Rodrygo made it 3-1 and 4-4 on aggregate, which led to extra time. Benzema would score in extra time, in the 96th minute, and it was enough for Madrid to advance with a 5-4 aggregate score.
Real Madrid will be playing Manchester City in a repeat semifinal that occurred in 2016. Madrid will look forward to getting through and achieving their 14th UCL title while City still looks to win their first.
Liverpool returns to the semifinals in 2019, when they won the UCL and will look to get another which would be their 7th, while Villareal wants to make history and make their first-ever UCL final and possibly create an upset win in their first UCL.
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