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UEFA Champions League 2016-17: Time for Semi-finals

UEFA Champions League logoThis is it what we call the “business end” of the season, as we reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. For the four teams left in the competition know that they are just two matches away from reaching the football Holy Grail, which is the final in Cardiff at the start of June.

We are treated to a fourth annual clash of Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid, and Diego Simeone's men will be looking to finally avenge their cross-town rivals, as the three previous encounters have not been favorable to Atletico.

It has been final heartbreak in 2014 and 2016 for Atletico, and they had to do with a 2015 quarterfinal exit to Real. So they are certainly looking for some form of revenge over the next couple of weeks, with that revenge being dumping Real out of the competition and stopping them from being the first ever side to defend the trophy in the Champions League era. Should Real, however, go on to win this semi-final encounter, then they will move one step closer to winning a record 12th title across both the European Cup and the Champions League.

Real will go into the game as close favorites, Diego Simeone's Atletico will be looking for revenge against Real Madridbut there has been very little to choose from between these two sides in the previous head-to-heads that they have had over the past three seasons. Atletico nearly had their name on the trophy in 2014, only for Sergio Ramos to score a late header to force the game into extra time. While in 2016 Atletico were ultimately masters of their own downfall after Antoine Griezmann's failure from the spot. If you are offered a rare opportunity by Real, then they are ones you have to take, as you will eventually be punished for your wastefulness. Can it finally be fourth time lucky for the Vicente Calderon outfit this time around?

In the other semi-final it is arguably the hipsters’ choice, as Juventus and Monaco go head to head. Juventus will look to go one better than the last time they reached the semi-final stage back in 2015. They eventually would lose out to Luis Enrique's Barcelona in the final, but have managed to exact revenge for that earlier this season.

That is because they won 3-0 in Turin during the quarterfinal first leg and then managed a very impressive shutout in the Nou Camp return. That meant it was a 3-0 aggregate win for Massimiliano Allegri's men, and they go into this game as favorites. That in no way means that you can rule Monaco out of proceedings. 

They are the team that has got the interest of fans across the continent after their stunning displays in this season’s competition. They made light work of Tottenham in the group stages both home and away, as they played a massive part in knocking Mauricio Pochettino's men out of the competition.

Monaco's Falcao is back to his bestAnd who can forget the pair of matches they had with Manchester City? The incredible 5-3 defeat at The Etihad had many saying that it was the best Champions League game to have ever taken place, a billing they arguably lost a couple of weeks later, when Barcelona won 6-1 against PSG in their Round of 16 tie.

But Monaco would overturn their first-leg deficit thanks to a 3-1 win over Manchester City. That meant City were the first ever team to score six goals and be knocked out of a two-legged tie. Monaco may be a bit leaky at the back, but they have an awesome swathe of attacking talent. Thomas Lemar, Bernando Silva and Kylian Mbappe are going to be on many of Europe's biggest clubs’ shopping lists this summer. 

That's not forgetting the resurgent Falcao, who is once again looking back to his best after a somewhat lackluster display in the Premier League for both Manchester United and Chelsea. Monaco eliminated Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals and they are going to be a serious test for Juventus, too. 

One thing is for sure that we are set to have four incredible semi-final matches to watch over the next couple of weeks. It's going to be incredibly hard to pick a winner from each pairing.
Read Dan Tracey's previous article on Champions League
Read Dan Tracey's first article on Champions League

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