Champions & Europa League Semi-Final Tips: 27-29th April
The weekend wasn’t looking great for us tips wise until the Aston Villa v West Brom game ended in a draw and we fought back to just a -£3 overall loss.
I’m never too happy with a break even performance but when it comes down to the wire like that then I’ll definitely take it!
This week we’ve got four semi-finals across both the Champions and Europa League to look forward too.
In the Champions League we kick off with Chelsea’s trip to Spain to face Real Madrid and then on Wednesday Paris St Germain will host Manchester City in what should be a cracker.
Then on Thursday night Manchester United host AS Roma in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final at Old Trafford while at the same time, Villarreal will be taking on Arsenal in Spain in what looks like a very tricky fixture for Mikel Arteta’s men.
Here are my tips and predictions for the action.
Champions League Tips: 27-28th April
Real Madrid come into this game having won just one of their last four games in all competitions, while Chelsea have won twice, but also lost once and drawn the other. The home side will be hoping Eden Hazard can return to play a role in the game, even from the bench, after he returned at the weekend for a brief appearance against Betis.
Another former Chelsea man, Laurent Courtois, will feature in goal for Los Blancos while Chelsea look to have a pretty full strength team to pick from. The Londoners also have the enviable record of never having lost to Real Madrid, drawing once and winning 2-1 in Madrid back in 1971, and then winning the European Super Cup 1-0 in 2009.
There is a perceived lack of quality in La Liga this season, which I am not too sure is true. Real showed plenty of quality against Liverpool over two legs, although helped by wasteful finishing by the Reds, particularly in the second leg at Anfield.
I do think Real will edge this, but I also feel Chelsea have more than enough quality to get an away goal that will keep them very much in this tie.
I have to admit that this was the trickiest of all the games this week to call. On the one hand, Manchester City are flying at the moment and on their day, they can beat any team in the world quite comfortably. However, by the same token as they showed against Leeds recently, they can also lose some games you would expect them to win.
However, you can say the exact same thing about Paris St Germain this season. While they have been excellent in the Champions League, they have struggled in Ligue 1 by their own lofty standards losing far more games than they would ordinarily expect to.
I do feel the reason for that is that after losing in the final last year, PSG are determined to go one better this year, but I also feel Manchester City are very much in the same mindset. Both teams have never won this trophy and their owners are both desperate to get their hands on it, in return for the huge investment made in both sides.
This should be a cracking game but I think it will be very close and I am backing PSG to just take a very narrow lead into the second leg.
Europa League Tips: Thursday 29th April
The odds look stacked against AS Roma in this tie, despite the Italian side having an excellent away record in the Europa League this season. Not only are they facing a bang in form Manchester United, but their record in England is best described as utterly dismal.
In their last big semi-final in England, Liverpool beat them 5-2 at Anfield and they have lost to tonight’s opponents 7-1 at Old Trafford in a Champions League quarter-final back in 2008. As such, if you look through the history books, there’s not a lot of support for Roma to get anything from this game on Thursday night.
However, If Manchester United have looked susceptible, it has been at home against teams that are strong on the counter-attack. AS Roma are that, as they showed admirably against Ajax in the last round where they scored two goals in the second half to earn a vital 2-1 win. So maybe they do have a fighting chance after all.
I still feel United are the team most likely here, but I do think Roma, like AC Milan in the earlier rounds, will score a goal on the night and that could set up a very interesting second leg next week.
Villarreal have a very good home record against English clubs with only Manchester City inflicting a home defeat on the Spaniards. That is a daunting record for Arsenal, especially when you consider just how well the Spaniards have performed in the Europa League this season, winning 11 of their 12 games and drawing the other.
However, Arsenal have their own unbeaten record to defend as they are undefeated on the road in the Europa League this season and their best performances in this competition have all come away from their home ground, notably in the last round when they defeated Slavia Prague 4-0 on the road.
However, I feel this next opponent is a marked step up in class for the Gunners, who have struggled for any kind of consistency this season domestically. I also feel they are a little lightweight in these bigger games with Aubameyang still not fully recovered from Malaria.
This should be a very close battle but I think that while Arsenal will grab a goal, Villarreal will do just enough to land the win and take a narrow lead into the second leg.
*Tips are exactly that tips (predictions) and do not guarantee success.