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Champions League Preview – Semi-Finals First Leg

We’re down to four, jostling it out for club football’s biggest prize. Here’s what to look out for in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

Real Madrid vs Manchester City (Wednesday May 10, 5am AEST)

  • UCL History: (Played 8) Manchester City 3, Real Madrid 3, Draws 2
  • Last time: Real Madrid 3 – 1 Manchester City (2021-22 UEFA Champions League semi-finals second leg)

Few teams start the Champions League semi-finals as short as $1.67 to lift the trophy , but such is Manchester City’s current form they are far and away the team to beat. Pep Guardiola’s side, closing in on a third straight EPL title, are unbeaten in their last 20 games in all competitions. And they’re out for revenge, too. A last-gasp loss to Los Blancos at this exact stage of last season’s Champions League stung City and Guardiola deeply, although the master tactician has denied they will use it as motivation. One big (and obvious) difference between this City side and last year’s is the inclusion of the indomitable Erling Haaland, who has banged in 12 goals in eight UCL appearances this season. He again looms as key.

For Real Madrid, sure, this hasn’t been their best season. And sure, they’ve lost two of their last four. But if any side was to buck recent form and perform on club football’s biggest stage, it’s the 14-time European champions. Coming off a Copa del Rey final win and having dispatched both Chelsea and Liverpool in recent Champions League rounds, they’ll be sure to enter the first leg on the front foot. However recent defensive frailties are a big concern. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have conceded nine goals in their last four games. While first legs are traditionally lower scoring affair, an early City goal could make this clash as interesting as last season’s barnstormer.

Tip: H2H, Manchester City @ $2.15

AC Milan vs Inter Milan (Thursday May 11, 5am AEST)

  • UCL History: (Played 4) AC Milan 2, Inter Milan 0, Draws 2
  • Last time: Inter Milan 0 – 3 AC Milan (2004-05 quarter-finals second leg)

A fascinating second semi-final of this season’s Champions League, with the first Milan derby in the competition for almost 20 years. AC Milan go in with some underwhelming recent form, and while they have remained solid at the back (thanks in part to strong performances by Mike Maignan in goal), Stefano Pioli’s side have won just three of their last eight games in all competitions. 23-year-old Rafael Leao looms as their main man in the semi-final, the deepest the club has gone in the Champions League since winning the title in 2006-07. Leao’s all-round strengths — both in front of goal and as an assisting weapon as he showed in the quarters against Napoli — sees him crucial to his side’s hopes. However a niggle in recent days now has him in doubt, and his place in Milan’s side is yet to be confirmed a day out from the game.

Inter’s recent form is more convincing than their Milan rivals, having won their last five on the bounce. They’ve hit goalscoring form, too, scoring 15 goals in this period as Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku hit their straps. Recent head-to-head encounters also go the way of Simone Inzaghi’s men; Inter have won three of their last four games against AC, which included two comprehensive 3-0 wins. Like Wednesday morning’s Champions League fixture in Madrid, this one presents as a real toss of the coin. However Inter’s in-form forwards should be able to breach AC Milan’s struggling backline at least once at a rocking San Siro.

Tip: H2H, Inter @ $2.45

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