The Champions League Final 4: Who Is Best Placed to Win?

Ismail Ansar

The Champions League Final 4: Who Is Best Placed to Win?

We are now down to four. After a stunning week of football that provided us with great goals and memorable moments, the semi-finalists for this year’s Champions League campaign have been confirmed.

England will do battle with Spain, with two English sides meeting 2 Spanish sides. Manchester City and Liverpool have made it through, and so have Real Madrid and Villarreal. And come the 28th of May, we will have a new champion of European football.

Will it be Real Madrid or Liverpool who will be looking to add to their already bulging European trophy cabinets, or will we see teams who have never won this tournament before, in Villarreal and Manchester City, lift the famous old trophy? Here, we take a look at the final four…

Real Madrid

Spanish giants and record winners of the competition Real Madrid will play Manchester City in their semi-final, in a game that fans all over the globe will be tuning in to.

With both sides possessing some of the most expensive and talented players in world football, this promises to be a mouth-watering clash that could give us an indication of who could go all the way. Los Blancos have outstanding players in nearly every position, with Thibaut Courtois a reliable presence in between the sticks. Club legend Sergio Ramos left in the summer, but the dependable David Alaba was bought in as his replacement and has impressed so far, alongside one of Nacho or Eder Militao.

Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are among the best midfielders in the world, and young stars Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga are also reliable performers in midfield. Brazilian wingers Vinicius and Rodrygo are full of pace and trickery and can cause problems for opposition full-backs, and they both supply the clinical Karim Benzema, who has had an incredible goalscoring campaign both domestically and in Europe this season.

In their 10 matches played in this campaign, Madrid have won seven games and lost just three, one of which was a defeat to minnows Sheriff Tiraspol. They have also lost the round-of-16 1st-leg 1-0 against PSG and semi-final second-leg against Chelsea. They have scored 22 goals in those 10 games, averaging 2.21 goals a game and conceded an average of 0.9 goals a game. So, this is a resilient Madrid side who have used their quality and their experience to help them through some tough games. But as shown, they are susceptible to a shock defeat on occasion, and this could stop them from winning their 14th Champions League trophy.

History tells us that Madrid could win again this year though, with Los Blancos having previously won this competition a stunning 13 times, although the last time was 4 years ago in 2018. They have also won the Europa League twice in the 1980s and have also picked up the UEFA Super Cup 4 times - European success is in Madrid’s blood, and so despite the tough clash against a strong Man City side, they should not be written off here.

The odds of Real Madrid winning the competition are at 13/2.

Champions League Outright Winners Odds

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REAL MADRID @ 13/2

Liverpool

The side who have won this competition the most out of any other English club are also in this year’s semi-finals, where they will take on Villarreal.

On paper it may look like an easy way through to the final, but Liverpool should not underestimate their opponents who have pulled off major scalps in getting this far in the competition.

But, Liverpool’s squad is among the best in Europe, and so it is highly likely that they will make it through to what would be their third Champions League final in the space of just a few years.

Brazilian Goalkeeper Alisson is arguably the best in the world in his position, as are Virgil Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold in the back-line. Andy Robertson, Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate are all highly dependable players as well.

Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara help Liverpool control games in midfield, but it is up front where the Reds are stacked with an abundance of talent. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have been among the best forwards in football for quite some time, and Roberto Firmino is still an effective option.

Diogo Jota is extremely dangerous and can score goals, and new signing Luis Diaz has impressed so far. Divock Origi is also a useful option off the bench and has previously scored some important goals for Liverpool in this competition.

In their 10 matches in this campaign, they have scored 25 goals, averaging 2.5 a game. The Reds are able to stifle their opponents with their relentless pressing and then when back in control of the ball, it is hard to get it off them.

Liverpool have averaged just under 60% possession in every game in this year’s campaign. They also stifle their opponents defensively with 381 ball recoveries in those 10 games, with an average of 42 per game. Jurgen Klopp’s side are not easy to beat, but it can be done. As shown by Inter Milan, it just requires a moment of brilliance.

History is on Liverpool’s side here though, with six wins previously in this competition, with their last win coming in 2019 showing they have the experience necessary to win here. They have also won the Europa League three times, and the UEFA Super Cup four times, so they will be looking to add another piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet.

The odds of Liverpool winning the competition are at 6/5.

Champions League Outright Winners Odds

skybet

LIVERPOOL @ 6/5

Villarreal

The Champions League always throws up a surprising story every year, and this year it is Spanish side Villarreal who are that surprise.

Unai Emery has somehow managed to get his team to the semi-finals this year, matching their best-ever finish previously in the competition when they also reached the semi-finals in 2006, where they were knocked out by Arsenal. Villarreal have knocked out some big sides such as Bayern Munich and Juventus on their journey this year, and for that they have been rewarded with a tie against Liverpool.

On paper, the Yellow Submarine’s squad looks mostly like a group of failed Premier League players, but there are some real hidden gems within the squad.

Goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli has been solid all season, and so has the defence in front of him, with the likes of Raul Albiol, Pau Torres and Pervis Estupinan all putting in commanding performances.

Progressive passers and playmakers like Dani Parejo and Giovani Lo Celso are protected by strong defensive midfielders such as Etienne Capoue and Francis Coquelin.

Upfront, Samuel Chukwueze and Gerard Moreno are goalscoring threats, and Villarreal’s main source of goals and chance creation has been the impressive Arnaut Danjuma, who has bagged six goals and one assist in 10 matches - Unai Emery’s side are very dangerous on the counter, with their pacy forwards helping them get up the pitch rapidly after winning the ball.

In their 10 Champions League matches, the Spaniards have won five, drawn three and lost two, scoring 18 goals in those 10 games. But with limited experience in Europe, with their only silverware coming in the form of the Europa League last year and UEFA’s Intertoto Cup in 2003 and 2004, they have no history on their side that could show that they could do this.

And it is unlikely that they will get to a semi-final in a long time after this, but is that what could spur them on to produce one of the biggest shocks that football has ever seen?

The odds of Villarreal winning the competition are at 18/1.

Champions League Outright Winners Odds

skybet

VILLARREAL @ 18/1

Manchester City

Manchester City will host experienced tournament winners Real Madrid in their semi-final, as Pep Guardiola once again tries to win the trophy that has eluded him since 2011.

The closest that the Spaniard has been since that final was finishing as runner-up in 2021 against Chelsea. So, he will be looking to cause an upset at Madrid’s expense and finally deliver Manchester City their first-ever Champions League.

Once again, he will be calling on the same experienced and tight-knit group of players again for this attempt. Ederson is still in goal for the Citizens, with the likes of Ruben Dias, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte all extremely capable defenders who will line up in front of the Brazilian.

Full-back Joao Cancelo is an option that Guardiola may choose to use as an attacking outlet, as his creativity and range of passing can be used to open up Real Madrid’s defence. Kevin De Bruyne offers a higher level of creativity and impetus from midfield, as do Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan, with the reliable Rodri there to put out any fires.

Upfront, goalscoring wingers like Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling are another source of torment for opposition defenders.

In their 10 games in this competition this season, they have won six, drawn two and lost two, scoring 24 goals in those 10 games. Manchester City do have the quality to win this year, but there are hurdles – in recent years, they have been knocked out of this competition by inferior teams, with the likes of Tottenham, Monaco and Lyon knocking the Citizens out in recent years.

This Real Madrid side are a tough prospect and will not make it an easy contest for City, and so City may still find themselves waiting for that elusive Champions League trophy after this semi-final clash due to not only Madrid’s quality but their own inexperience and history in this competition. And with the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970 being the only European silverware that City can flaunt, they will be keen to go all the way here and finally lift this trophy.

The odds of Manchester City winning the competition are at 5/4.

Champions League Outright Winners Odds

skybet

MANCHESTER CITY @ 5/4


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