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We've reached the final four of the Champions League and if the Super League's shocking rise and fall proved anything, it's that we shouldn't take this tournament for granted. The two-leg semifinals get underway this week, along with a pair of thrilling clashes between domestic rivals in the Premier League and Serie A, respectively.
Here's what to look forward to this week:
Real Madrid vs. Chelsea
Tuesday, April 27 at 3:00 PM | Live stream
It's only fitting that Real Madrid and Chelsea square off this week. Madrid president Florentino Perez finally flew too close to the sun as the driving force behind the ill-fated Super League, and was dismayed when it fell apart at a dizzying pace. Chelsea and its fans, were the loudest dissenters, blocked the team bus, and forced the Blues to reconsider their bid, the final blow to a competition that proposed to ruin the competitive balance of soccer as we know it.
As for the game itself, that's going to be pretty good, too! Chelsea is playing some of its best football of the year, as Timo Werner and Mason Mount look to threaten Real Madrid's backline at every opportunity. Real has an embarrassment of riches, especially up front, but it's Karim Benzema who has been in world-class form for Los Blancos. If Chelsea is to pull the slight upset off, the indefatigable midfielder N'Golo Kante will likely be the reason why, with his work ethic, and unrivalled ability to steal the ball off opponents rendering him as a rare one-of-one talent.
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Manchester City
Wednesday April 28, at 3:00 PM | Live stream
Paris Saint-Germain was one of the lone conscientious objectors to the Super League and continue to be firmly focused on bringing the Champions League trophy home for the first time. Kylian Mbappe is at the forefront of this bid and remains in terrific form, notching a brace against Metz on April 24. Mbappe is the tournament's active leading goal scorer now that Dortmund's Erling Haaland has been eliminated, and will look to add to his tally against the Premier League leaders.
This is the best Manchester City has ever fared in the Champions League, having being eliminated before in the 2015-16 semifinals, and this may be its best chance to win it all. Kevin De Bruyne's ball distribution remains unmatched, while Phil Foden is coming into his own as a burgeoning superstar, on a team full of world-class players. In some years, this would serve as a quality final in and of itself. Expect a ton of goals over the two-leg tie.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Sunday May 2 at 11:30 AM | Live stream
What a difference a year makes. Last year, around this time, Liverpool was awaiting its coronation as Premier League champions for the first time, while Manchester United looked ahead to better days finally on the horizon.
This year, Liverpool has fallen off a cliff, is in sixth place, and is desperately clinging onto hopes of displacing rivals above them for a Champions League spot next year. Simply, the Europa League won't do and Liverpool has everything to play, every point matters and knocking off second-place United goes a long, long way in their last-ditch attempt to remain at Europe's top table. United is firmly entrenched in second, and doesn't have much to play for, but sending their historic rival to a season without European competition is a pretty good incentive.
Lazio vs. AC Milan
Monday, April 26 at 2:45 PM | Live stream
In similar fashion to Monday's Premier League clash, this game pits sixth-place Lazio, clinging onto dear life for the final Europa League automatic bid, against third-place Milan, who are trying to fend off a host of foes looking to inch into the top four. Milan is currently two points behind Atalanta, tied with Juventus, three points up on Napoli and eight points up on Lazio. This is going to be a tight race to the finish line, and for Lazio, it will need to win every game going forward.
Lazio hemorrhages goals against quality opponents and though Zlatan Ibrahimovic will likely miss this contest due to injury, Ante Rebic has stepped up in fine form for Milan, and will need to be keyed in on.
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