The tournament to claim what is widely seen as the most prestigious cup in club soccer is almost down to the final two teams.
The final four teams competing for a place in the championship are familiar teams to all soccer fans. Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid need to get past Juventus as Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona recently fought their way past the always tough Bayern Munich. Real Madrid are the current defending champions and they look to win consecutive Champions League cups for only the second time in the team’s storied history, the first time being when they won four straight from 1955-1959.
FC Barcelona recently completed their two-game series with Bayern Munich on May 12 to advance to their first finals since 2011. The first game of the series was crucial to Barcelona advancing. Both teams wanted to set a tone and give themselves a solid lead advancing into the second game, and for the majority of the game, both struggled to score. The game was in minute 77, still tied up at zero apiece, and it looked as though this would be a close series with very little separating the teams.
Enter Lionel Messi, the player regarded by many as the best in the world today. He took advantage of a Bayern turnover on their own half, as he then received a pass just outside the box and shot it into the lower corner of the goal. Just three minutes later, Messi received a pass and proceeded to bring Bayern defender Jerome Boateng to the ground with a move before chipping a shot over the goalie for his second goal of the match. As if that wasn’t enough, four minutes into stoppage time, he found Neymar on an assist to make the score 3-0. Bayern Munich was not able to overcome the three-goal deficit in the second game, as FC Barcelona moved on to the championship.
In the other semi-final series, Juventus is looking to knock out the defending champions. After the first game, they look to be in good shape, but it is still a series that could go either way. Alvaro Morata put Juventus ahead very early, as he scored a goal in the eighth minute of the game. Real Madrid answered with a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo in minute 27 to tie it up at one goal. Early in the second half, a costly penalty from Real Madrid allowed Carlos Tevez to put Juventus ahead for good with a penalty kick. While ahead, Juventus definitely has to perform at a high level again in order to advance because, as we saw with Barcelona, the series can change in the blink of an eye, and Ronaldo has the skills to do just that. Although Juventus is ahead, it is hard as a casual fan not to root for Real Madrid to set up a championship with FC Barcelona, as then, we will have the top two players in the world competing for what is considered the top prize in club soccer.