Champions League - semi final showdown!

18.04.2018 09:44:46
Mohamed Salah v Leroy Sane

The road to the Champions League semi-finals has been a dramatic one. We look at the stats behind the 4 teams that have made it this far.

ROMA

Roma are the Cinderella story of this year’s competition. The Wolves are debutants at this level of the tournament, but without question deserve their place in the last four after achieving the most remarkable of comebacks when eliminating Barcelona in the quarter finals

Roma are the only team that has managed to keep clean sheets in all of their five home matches in the competition.

Clean sheets in two group stage matches vs. Atletico Madrid, beating both Chelsea and Barca 3:0 at home, Roma also scored three goals on their visit to London for a 3:3 draw. These results show that the Giallorossi can mix it with the best.

Roma are unsurprisingly yet to concede at home in the Champions League with the back line amassing 18.1 successful tackles per game, 12.3 interceptions, 16 clearances and 3.6 blocked shots. 

Roma have scored 15 goals in their 10 Champions League games so far, with the main concern being the fact that just 2 of the 15 goals came after shots from outside the penalty area. Up front there is heavy reliance on Edin Dzeko and at times this makes the attack predictable.

Roma have the lowest goal tally by a significant margin of the teams left in the tournament. That said the Giallorossi top the table for most aerial duels won of all teams that made it through to the knockout stages with an impressive 59.6%.

LIVERPOOL

Liverpool reached their 18thChampions League semi-final undefeated - 6 wins and 4 draws. This alone is good reason to be impressed. The Reds knocked out the new English champions Manchester City in the quarterfinals with an emphatic 5:1 aggregate score.

Over the two legs they demonstrated a trait that has been present all season, namely finding the back of the net with apparent ease.

Klopp’s men have been sensational in attack so far with 33 goals in 10 Champions League matches. It should however be noted that Liverpool don’t carry a serious aerial threat and only 3 of those 33 goals were headers.

Individual penetration is the preferred way to attack the box with Liverpool attempting 21.8 dribbles, of which 15.2 were successful, per game. Their shooting accuracy is also very good, over 44% of the attempted 158 shots in the competition so far have been on target.

The front trio Mane-Firmino-Salah is crucial for Liverpool. Between them ‘The Fab Three’ have  already scored 82 goals this season, with Salah netting an extraordinary 40 times. 

If Liverpool have a weakness it is that they lack height and regularly struggle in aerial duels. This makes them vulnerable from set pieces and shows itself when the team has a lead to protect. When opponents start pumping balls into the box they are left wanting. Liverpool currently hold an unwelcome record dropping 45 points from winning positions  over the last 2 seasons. That is morethan any team in Europe.  

BAYERN MUNCHEN

Bayern are the only team left in the competition that will also win their domestic title. The ‘Red Mean Machine’ have lost just once in the 25 games played since Heynckes retook the reigns in late October. With the Bundesliga title wrapped up and a German Cup final berth guaranteed, Bayern are still chasing the treble. 

Apart from the Heynckes effect, the big difference for Bayern this season is that for the first time in four years they have both Robben and Ribery fit as we come into the April-May period. 

Bayern are yet to lose a game in the 2017/18 season when Robben has been on the pitch and over their ten years together the ‘Robbery’ partnership has proven to be crucial to the fate of the team. Indeed when they both play, Bayern have won a staggering 75.4% of their games. 

Bayern are a team that likes to take the ball all the way into the penalty area. 21 of their 23 Champions League goals so far, have come via efforts from inside the box and with 14.7 key passes per Champions League game, Bayern find it relatively easy to create chances. 

Not all is as rosy as it seems though with the Bavarians having shown defensive weaknesses all season. Goalkeeper Neuer is out injured and the centre-backs are slow and lack mobility when asked to defend against sharp opponents. Boateng, Hummels and Sule have been exposed time and time again this season. 

That said, on home turf Bayern have rarely been troubled and their goal difference in Munchen in the five Champions League matches so far is 14:1. The only points dropped were in the strategic 0:0 draw vs. Sevilla in the quarterfinals.   

REAL MADRID

After back-to-back Champions League titles Real Madrid, the most successful club in football with their 12 Champions League titles, chase another record, but this season we have seen some cracks in the shiny armour of the White Ballet. Real have already lost twice in the Champions League but despite all that Ronaldo’s team remain the team to beat!

Topping the Champions League stats for most shots taken with 176 in just 10 matches, scoring 26 goals to date and also having the highest pass completion percentage in the competition at 89% ,Real’s main problem seems to be losing concentration from time to time. 

Ronaldo remains unplayable with his 15 goals in the competition to date, but what worries some pundits is that those forwards around the superstar - Bale and Benzema - have been struggling all season and this makes Real very susceptible to overloading defenders against Ronaldo.

The other major issue for Real this season has been their defending. Only 3 clean sheets in the Champions League is the fewest of those left in the competition. Furthermore 12 goals conceded is the most of all the semi finalists.

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