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Champions League: Semi-Final 1st Legs Predictions

We're down to the final four in the Champions League and with most expecting a Manchester City vs. Liverpool final, will things actually turn out that way?

On paper, there's no doubt that City have the more difficult semi-final but I'm really looking forward to Liverpool v Villarreal this week as well. Despite Liverpool's quality, it would be disrespectful to fully write off Unai Emery's team given his excellent record in European competitions and what we've seen from the Yellow Submarine so far in this campaign.

Here are my thoughts on how the first legs might play out.

Manchester City vs. Real Madrid

By eliminating PSG and Chelsea despite being underdogs in both ties, Real Madrid have given us all a clear reminder of why they are the absolute kings of this competition. Yes, they're considered underdogs yet again here, but I think the likes of Benzema might prefer it that way - he's certainly playing as if he does.

Personally, I'd probably have it about 60/40 in City's favour as to who will actually progress to the final before a ball is kicked. The reason I have City slightly ahead is that while Madrid have shown exactly why they're so dangerous, I think we've also seen encouraging signs from City, particularly in that quarter-final against Atleti. We all know how good Guardiola's team can be and we've seen it in plenty of performances against big teams this season such as the PSG games and PL matches against Liverpool and Chelsea, but to progress against Atleti with just 1 goal over 2 legs shows an element of steel and experience that they've perhaps lacked in previous seasons.

City are actually very good defensively and though I still think Benzema or Vinicius might find a goal in this first leg, I think they'll take a narrow lead to the Bernabeu. Prediction: City 2-1 Madrid

Liverpool vs. Villarreal

Yes, Liverpool should win this game and yes, they'll dominate every match stat, but I believe Villarreal will return to the Estadio de la Ceramica 'still in the tie' which would be a huge achievement in itself.

Emery's team have won 0-3 at Juventus and drawn 1-1 at Bayern Munich in the knockout rounds to reach this stage so they aren't going to be fazed by Anfield and they'll make this very difficult. Liverpool are of course absolutely flying at the moment though and I think the thing that will eventually give them the edge is the fact that their bench is now incredibly strong so even if things are still level after an hour or so, Klopp can add 2 or 3 quality attacking options that will give something different against tiring legs.

You only have to look at the bookie odds to see that there's a fair chance the Reds run riot here but I feel Villarreal will hang in there for a while. I'm not convinced they'll manage a goal but given that they've managed to score in every UCL game so far this season, let's back them and hope they can make things exciting! Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Villarreal
53,893 caps
As long as man city dont concede too many goals in 2nd leg they should make final but Real Madrid should be too strong and win by 2 goals.
27 Apr 07:47
25,716 caps
0.04% had 4-3!
27 Apr 09:17