Previews and Predicting the Champions League Semi-finals

Soccer critics think this is the year Manchester City wins the Champions League.

Manchester City v Real Madrid, Tuesday 8pm

Manchester City and Real Madrid face-off again and who will be the winner? After their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool this month, Manchester City has just the Champions League and Premier League to concentrate on. Real Madrid on the other hand has limited priorities. Having won their last four games in the La Liga to all but secure the title, they will be crowned champions if they avoid defeat to Espanyol on Saturday.

City have done it most impressively when the stakes have been higher – in the knockout stages but they go into this semi-final with some selection issues in defence. Pep Guardiola could be without John Stones – on Tuesday, Kyle Walker has already missed three knockout games after picking up a red card against RB Leipzig. João Cancelo is suspended and these makes the issue complex.

Real Madrid are without Eden Hazard, Éder Militão missed the second leg of their quarter-final against Chelsea due to a ban, but the Brazilian is set to pair with David Alaba at the back – if Alaba is fit. Ancelotti says the defender is “a slight doubt” and that Casemiro is “a bigger doubt”.

Liverpool v Villarreal, Wednesday 8pm

Liverpool is just one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race after their 2-0 win on Sunday. Liverpool now has their attention turn to welcoming Villarreal to Anfield on Wednesday night. Liverpool in the group stage, beat Atlético Madrid home and away, and they are strong favorites against Villarreal, who are seventh in the La Liga.

Its likely Roberto Firmino wont join the squad but they are now able to cope without one of their regular front three. And a few changes is expected in the coming game. And Villareal’s Alberto Moreno will miss out due to a long-term injury.

Unai Emery is the first coach to take them to two conservative European semi-finals and so he should not be underestimated. He won the Europa League with Villarreal last season and his team has already seen off Juventus and Bayern Munich in the Champions League this year. Emery is dreading on the fitness of Francis Coquelin and Gerard Moreno. Moreno picked up a hamstring injury in Villarreal’s win over Getafe and then missed their victory over Valencia last week. Emery has an able deputy for the striker in Arnaut Danjuma, who scored both goals in that 2-0 win over Valencia and has scored against Juventus and Bayern Munich in the Champions League this season.

Giovani Lo Celso has been a key player for Villarreal and he could start behind Danjuma at Anfield. Manu Trigueros likely to start on the left, and though Alfonso Pedraza is also there for Emery should he decide to give Pervis Estupinan greater protection against Mohamed Salah.

RB Leipzig v Rangers, Thursday 8pm

Dominico Tedesco has revitalised their season but Rangers can take heart from the fact that RB Leipzig have won only two of their last seven home games. In addition, Tedesco is unable to call upon the suspended trio of Willi Orbán, Mohamed Simakan and Kevin Kampl. The RB Leipzig boss will be hoping Lukas Klostermann is over his bout of Covid and is ready to join his defence, Josko Gvardiol and Nordi Mukiele, with Marcel Halstenberg another option if needed. Tyler Adams may fill in for Kampl alongside Konrad Laimer in the midfield, especially with Amadou Haidara unsure of.

RB Leipzig’ defence is a little troubled, but Rangers have them attack, with Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe sidelined. Fashion Sakala fill in against Motherwell over the weekend and likely keep his spot in Germany. Giovanni van Bronckhorst may favour a 4-2-3-1 system, though he could switch to a 4-3-3 to frustrate RB Leipzig, with Joe Aribo and Ryan Kent flanking Sakala.

And depending on Aaron Ramsey’s fitness, after he missed the win over Motherwell. His presence would be a huge boost for Rangers. Filip Helander, Ianis Hagi and Nnamdi Ofoborh are all absent.

West Ham v Eintracht Frankfurt, Thursday 8pm

David Moyes is now focusing on the Europa League after having rested key players for the London derby. West Ham’s top four hopes are all over after their 1-0 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday. And West Ham have won only two of their last seven games but, crucially, one of those was in Lyon this month, a statement victory that got their place in the semi-finals.

Moyes defence selection is on the line as Centre-backs Kurt Zouma, Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop are all sidelined due to injury, but for Moyes, Aaron Cresswell has served his ban and is available for selection. Moyes could go for a three-man defence like he did at Chelsea, though that would mean two of Manuel Lanzini, Jarrod Bowen, Saïd Benrahma and Pablo Fornals missing out on a starting spot in support of Michail Antonio.

Eintracht Frankfurt are also missing key players. Centre-back Obite Evan Ndicka is suspended following his dismissal in the second leg win at Barcelona, while Kristijan Jakic is also banned for the trip to London. Tuta is available following a ban of his own and should fill in for Ndicka in Eintracht’s three-man backline. Makoto Hasebe and Almamy Touré are in competition to join Tuta and Martin Hinteregger in defence. Djibril Sow returned from injury off the bench against Hoffenheim on Saturday, so should cover for Jakic in the middle of the park.

Predictions

Manchester City to progress, Liverpool is predicted to win RB Leipzig to win and west Ham is expected to win.