Once again the UEFA Champion's League has given us some great action and although the final four isn't entirely surprising, their paths to the penultimate round have all had their fair share of drama and surprises.
As we approach the start of the semifinals, I decided that I would give me predictions for both matches and both legs. Please chime in with your predictions as well in the comment section below!
Juventus vs. Real Madrid
It could be argued that the one surprise for the final four this year is the presence of Juventus. Although Juventus has been dominant in Serie A as of late, they haven't won a European Championship since 1996 and the last time they were in the final was in 2003. This UEFA Champions League season though, "The Old Lady" has pragmatically worked it's way through the tournament and now finds themselves in a showdown with the reigning champs.
I do see Juventus getting a first half goal against Real Madrid in Leg 1 and I see them holding onto that lead and defending for most of the match. However, my prediction is that Real Madrid will get that all important away goal late in the match and will head back to Madrid with an away goal advantage.
But how much will that away goal matter? I actually don't think it will matter at all, because once again in Leg 2, I see Juventus hitting Real Madrid early and negating Real Madrid's away goal. Once again Juventus will fall into a defensive shell and finally Real Madrid will break through with a late goal that will send the match into extra time. Much like Real Madrid's final last season against Atletico Madrid, I predict that they will score not just once, but twice and will send the Italian side home.
My final prediction: Juventus 2 - 4 Real Madrid on Aggregate
Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich
This series is intriguing given Bayern Munich's latest battle with FC Porto. It seemed as though Porto awoke a sleeping giant after going ahead in Leg 1 and well....we all know what happened after that.
Barcelona on the other hand didn't get quite the wake up call that Bayern Munich did, but they seem to be slowly rising out of a slumber as well and are looking more and more like the dominant Barcelona side of old.
Bayern will benefit from Leg 2 being in Germany, but I do see Barcelona taking a 2-0 lead at home. Once in Munich, Barcelona will stumble a bit out of the gates and give up an early goal to Bayern Munich, but after a coming up with a few more chances to tie the match, the German side will give up an away goal to Barcelona. Bayern Munich will get a late goal that will make things interesting, but ultimately Barcelona will move on to face Real Madrid for another all La Liga final.
Final Prediction: Barcelona 3 - 2 Bayern Munich on Aggregate