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The first legs of the Champions League semifinals more than delivered on the hype, and we enter this week with everything to play for, with two ties that ought to come down to the wire. Manchester City holds a 2-1 advantage over Paris Saint-Germain, while Chelsea leads Real Madrid on away goals after a 1-1 draw.
As the Premier League and Serie A edge closer to their respective ends, a match between City and Chelsea serves as a potential Champions League final preview, while Juventus looks to bury Milan's chances of qualifying for the 2022 tournament, all the while trying to preserve its own spot.
Let's get into it, shall we!
Manchester City vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Tuesday May 4 at 3:00 PM | Live stream
PSG held a 1-0 lead at halftime and appeared to be in close control of the game, but they capitulated during the second half, and the blame can almost squarely fall on goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who made two huge blunders. Navas misread a cross from Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, and failed to make a move towards the post when no one got their head onto the ball. He then failed to direct his wall minutes later as Riyad Mahrez buried the game-winner on a set piece.
City is now in position for its best result ever in the tournament, and mere steps away from capturing the elusive Champions League trophy. Can Neymar and Kylian Mbappe mastermind a comeback? We'll find out in what should be a tantalizing matchup once again — provided that Navas plays like the world-class goalkeeper he is, and avoids a series of catastrophic mistakes.
Chelsea vs. Real Madrid
Wednesday May 5 at 3:00 PM | Live stream
Chelsea were the unexpected aggressor in the first leg and were richly rewarded for staying on the offensive. Although Timo Werner's finishing left a lot to be desired, Christian Pulisic stepped up with one of the goals of the tournament, rounding Thibaut Courtois for the game's opener, and giving the Blues the advantage on away goals.
Karim Benzema remains in electrifying form for Real Madrid, scoring a beautiful equalizer in the 29th minute, and he continues to notch goals at a torrid pace. Benzema will be counted upon heavily to lead an aggressive Madrid attack, that will be looking to score in bunches in hopes of shattering the away goals rule and leaving nothing up to chance.
Manchester City vs. Chelsea
Saturday May 8 at 12:30 PM | Live stream
We'll know by kickoff on Saturday if this is a rehearsal for the Champions League final. In any event, City has essentially wrapped up the Premier League for a few weeks now, so this game is more about how Chelsea needs to maintain its fourth-place position, with West Ham and Liverpool giving chase.
It's not like Chelsea will spare its resources either, at least, it shouldn't. With the Champions League final on May 29, Chelsea should field its best roster and attack the hell out of City, who have nothing really to play for but pride and the record books.
Juventus vs. Milan
Sunday May 9 at 2:45 PM | Live stream
This domestic tie is far more interesting, as Juventus and Milan are locked in a tussle with Napoli and Atalanta for the three automatic qualifying spots into next year's Champions League. Milan, who once were squarely in the mix for the title, has capitulated in recent weeks and simply hasn't measured up against quality opposition in the 2021 calendar year, getting their points from the also-rans and bottom-feeders. Lazio embarrassed the northern club with a 3-0 win on April 26, and Milan hasn't found a suitable replacement for the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
This is where having a strike partnership featuring Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala tips the balance for Juventus, and both players can be expected to be at their best, with the prospect of knocking a bitter rival back into the Europa League as sufficient motivation.
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