Two shocking upsets, a late comeback and humiliating destruction of one of the biggest clubs in the world have led us to this seasons Champions League semi-finals.
RB Leipzig will take on Paris Saint-Germain while Lyon face Bayern Munich, as Europe’s premier club competition sees the final four clubs all coming from either Germany or France. For the first time since the Champions League was rebranded back in 1992/93, there are no English, Spanish or Italian teams competing for a place in the final.
After going 1-0 down to a free-flowing Atalanta side, PSG looked to be crashing out of the tournament despite the brilliance of Neymar on the night. The Brazilian was in fine form, dazzling his way past opposition players and creating chances for himself and others but was missing his shooting boots. It was the introduction of a half-fit Kylian Mbappe from the bench that helped change the game in PSG’s favour though. In stoppage time, Choupo-Moting floated the ball into the box, which Neymar brought down on his thigh and fired across the goal for Marquinhos to tap in an equaliser. Then just two minutes later, Neymar picked up the ball in his own half and dribbled past two Atalanta defenders. A bit of pinball in the box ended up with the ball back at Neymar’s feet and he played a stunning pass through to Mbappe, who squared for Choupo-Moting to slide into an empty net for the win.
It was well deserved and if they’re in a similar mood when they face RB Leipzig, they will have similar success.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side were expected to be stuffed by Diego Simeone’s defensive Atletico Madrid team, but a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Dani Olmo and a deflected Tyler Adams strike late on sandwiching substitute Joao Felix’s penalty kick.
The German side dominated the possession and found spaces between the lines very well against the low block of Atletico, but they missed the prolificness of Timo Werner with those chances. PSG will leave much more space in behind and will compete for possession of the ball, so it will be an entirely new task for Leipzig to deal with.
Overall, this game will be a fiercely contested game. Leipzig are a very well coached team and with their three-at-the-back system, they don’t leave much space for players to run in behind on them. That is where Mbappe and co do their best work but with Neymar intent on taking the crown as the world’s best player, I think his form will be key to PSG being able to get a win. PSG have conceded just 5 goals in the tournament so far and I think they’ll be able to maintain that record by keeping a clean sheet in this game. With Mbappe likely to start this game and Angel Di Maria back from suspension, PSG will have a stronger line-up but they will severely miss Marco Verratti in midfield and goalkeeper Keylor Navas who is a serious doubt. I think going forward though, they have far more quality and variety than Atletico did and they will be able to get the goals needed to make it to the final.
PSG: Rico; Kehrer, Kimpembe, Silva, Bernat; Marquinhos, Gueye; Mbappe, Neymar, Di Maria; Icardi
RB Leipzig: Gulacsi; Kounate, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Klostermann, Kampl, Laimer, Angelino; Nkunku, Olmo, Sabitzer
PSG to win & O2.5 goals – 6/4
Mauro Icardi to score anytime – 7/4