Did Bayern Munich’s demolition of Barcelona at the Allianz Arena signal a shift in the power base of European football? Spain may still dominate the international scene but Germany aren’t far behind the world champions and their club football is apparently on an upward curve if this season’s Champions League is a reliable guide.
It appears that Jose Mourinho is fated never to win the Champions League with Real Madrid. It’s the one trophy that’s missing from his portfolio at the Bernebeu and it would take an incredible turnaround in the second leg of their semi-final with Borussia Dortmund for the soon-to-be-deposed Spanish champions to make next month’s final at Wembley.
Arsenal fans have probably developed a twitch every time they see Robin van Persie’s name on the Manchester United score-sheet and it must have been particularly galling for Gooners that their former hero smash the hat-trick to steered the Red Devils to title last week.
There is rarely a shortage of goals when the Magpies take on the Reds but Liverpool’s firepower has been significantly diminished with the suspension of top scorer Luis Suarez. His actions have been well-documented and it’s fair to say that the Uruguayan has had little sympathy inside or outside football for his assault on Branislav Ivanovic.
It’s very rare that Barcelona go into any match nowadays as outsiders but we have the Champions League favourites at 11/5 to beat Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena with Jupp Heynckes’ newly-crowned Bundesliga champions available at 13/10. The draw is 9/4.
Barring an amazing collapse, Manchester United are going to win back their Premier League title but they are hardly galloping to the finishing line. They were probably a little fortunate to get a draw at West Ham in midweek having been far from impressive against a badly out-of-sorts Stoke City in their previous outing.
Borussia Dortmund don’t have the European Cup or Champions League pedigree of Real Madrid but they have won the continent’s premier club competition, beating Juventus in Munich 16 years ago having beaten Manchester United in the semi-finals.
Many of Manchester City’s players appeared to be going through the motions against Wigan Athletic on Wednesday night and they needed a moment of magic from Carlos Tevez to take the points after the visitors had missed a host of opportunities to cause an upset at the Etihad.
Chelsea didn’t manage to score a goal against Manchester City in the two Premier League games between the sides this season and will need to put that right if they are to enhance an already excellent recent record in the FA Cup. The Blues have lost just one FA Cup tie in the last three years and City, ironically, won the trophy that season.
Millwall reached the FA Cup Final in 2004 but it was staged at the Millennium Stadium that year. They had also just been relegated to League One and won’t want history to repeat itself, even if they manage to upset Wigan Athletic in the first semi-final this weekend.
David Beckham may not have the legs to play 90 minutes at the top level anymore but he clearly still has the class to influence matches and you wouldn’t put it past the former England captain to produce a master-class for Paris St-Germain against Barcelona in the second leg of quarter-final in the Nou Camp.