I must admit, my poor Arsenal is out of the UEFA Champions League, which is insignificant to this notion; but the best ever final I watched was Liverpool defeating AC Milan on penalties in 2005.
The Merseyside team overturned a halftime 3-0 deficit to level the score and eventually triumphed over the Italians.
Since then, I have not watched a final similar to that. Can the Madrid/Barça final transpire? Which I’m sure if it does, will be pitted to be the best final even before kick-off...
The semi-finals fixtures will add more contemplation to the final as four of the most successful teams in Europe’s top flight leagues, square up in what could be more than a colossal clash before the dream final.
All four teams have won the cup nine times between them in the past twenty years. It will be very close and the records can prove it.
Just like world champions Spain’s strength is revealed by their dominance in Europe and world football, the same success at club level will be indicated by their league’s strength and it can be proven come the end of the semi-finals when Barça and Los Blancos progress.
In the past 20 years, Real Madrid has won the cup three times and Barcelona four times. They are the only teams of the four semi-finalists to win it in the last ten years.
Francesco “Tito” Vilanova’s Barcelona side has won the champions’ league more than any other team in recent years and they are a patent benchmark of European football at the moment.
With World Player of the Year little Lionel ‘Genius’ Messi on their side, meeting their Spanish fierce rival Real Madrid who have Cristiano ‘Complete’ Ronaldo; and coach Jose Mourinho (who is chasing his third champions league title with three different teams), could attract more viewers than it has never been seen in modern football – my sagacity tells me so.
It will be a final inspired by wealth, class and bragging rivalry. It will also be Jose Mourinho’s next dream, no debate about that, as he has little hope on clinching La Liga who has Barca in securely cruise-control at the helm.
The first of the two semi-finals’ first leg will see arguably the biggest club in Germany- Bayern Munich playing Barcelona at the Allianz Arena in Munich tomorrow which in itself is a mountain to climb for the Spaniards who narrowly defeated Milan and PSG on their way to the semis.
On Wednesday, Real Madrid, second on La Liga log will as well travel to Germany to face Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund that night.
The two fixtures were perfectly drawn and although will be in two legs, reminds me of Spain playing Germany in the 2010 World Cup Semi-final when a technically-minded German team tested a play-station-passing Spanish side.
Coach Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern Munich men are hoping to complete an unprecedented treble of the German Cup and European Champions League and make amends for the disappointment of losing the 2010 and 2012 finals to Inter Milan and Chelsea respectively.
Bayern has however a better record against the Spanish teams. Against the Catalans, they won two matches in the 1998/1999 season before losing 4-0 and drawing 1-1 in a two legged quarter final of the 2008/2009 Champions League to Barça. Barcelona went on to win the Champions league that season.
Madrid’s record against Dortmund is slightly better than their opponents, having beaten the Germans twice, lost once and drew three times in the three two-legged encounters they met in the champions’ league.
The Los Blancos has last beaten Dortmund in the 2002/2003 season, a 2-1 win at home and Mourinho could be out to avenge a defeat of a similar scoreline, a 2-1 loss during this season’s group stage against a team that is so far unbeaten this campaign.