ANALYSISBETTING

Now or Never UEFA Champions League Semi-final Ties

A preview of what to expect in the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg.
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The UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul is now within sight for the four remaining teams. The fans were treated to an amazing spectacle in Madrid and Paris. Therefore, the second leg promises even more drama and excitement.

The English clubs, Chelsea and Manchester City each hold an advantage going into the return leg. However, Real Madrid and PSG will put up an all-or-nothing display when they visit.

The two finalists will be decided this week.

Manchester City vs PSG (Etihad Stadium)

Manchester City is in the driving seat going into this encounter having put up an excellent second-half performance in the first leg. Two outstanding goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez cancelled out Marquinhos’ early opener.

The Cityzens have one foot in the final

Pep Guardiola made eight changes to the side that started the away match in France against Crystal Palace at the weekend. However, the soon-to-be Premier League champions made light work of the Eagles courtesy of two brilliant Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres goals.

The Catalan boss will be keen to ensure that his players settle in earlier than they did in the first leg to avoid unnecessary pressure. He would once again be counting on the defensive pairing of Ruben Dias and John Stones to shut out Neymar and Kylian Mbappe (if fit). The City defence has only conceded 4 UCL goals leading up to this fixture. A clean sheet will guarantee passage into the final.

PSG, on the other hand, have an uphill task in Manchester. Les Parisiens will have to hit the ground running from the first minute. The French giants must score at least two goals to stand a chance of qualifying.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men managed a 2-1 win against Lens at the weekend. The race for the Ligue 1 title will go down to the wire with three games to go.

The Argentine coach will be looking to exploit the set-piece prowess of his defenders once again. The English side struggled to cope during corners in the first leg.

One thing is certain; there will be goals

Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 PSG (City to qualify).

Chelsea vs Real Madrid (Stamford Bridge)

Chelsea holds a slim advantage ahead of this fixture owing to Christian Pulisic’s goal in the first leg. However, the 1-1 result means that this game is finely poised.

It is all to play for between Chelsea and Real Madrid

The Blues earned a comfortable 2-0 win against Premier League strugglers, Fulham thanks to a Kai Havertz brace. With that win, the Londoners strengthened their grip on a top-four position.

The 2012 Champions League winners have been defensively resilient since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel. The German will be desperate for a masterclass in that regard.

Ngolo Kante had a particularly outstanding game in Spain. The French midfielder will need to cover as many grounds and limit Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

While Timo Werner continues to miss gilt-edge chances, his pace and chance-creation abilities will prove pivotal for the hosts.

Real Madrid captain, Sergio Ramos starts in London after a month out with injury. However, Raphael Varane is ruled out of this encounter.

Zinedine Zidane has had to stretch his team to the limits following many injuries that have rocked the team all season.

Los Blancos (The Whites) are still very much in the race for the La Liga title after a 2-0 win against Osasuna at the weekend.

Karim Benzema has been the club’s best player this season. The French forward will have to step up like he did in the first leg.

Eden Hazard can improve his reputation in the Spanish Capital with a big performance against his former side.

It is fair to expect an end-to-end affair in this encounter.

Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Real Madrid (Madrid to qualify)