Football

Champions League: Potential semi-final stars

Will Courtois lead the way against parent club Chelsea? (©GettyImages)
Will Courtois lead the way against parent club Chelsea? (©GettyImages).

Atletico Madrid - Thibaut Courtois

Atletico Madrid have slipped under the radar in this year's Champions League competition. Though top of La Liga and undefeated in the Champions League, many paid more attention towards the teams with big reputations - the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Barcelona. Atletico were quietly dismissed as a team that would do well to reach the quarter-finals.

The reality is that Diego Simeone has created an extremely hard working unit which is very effective when all the components are working well together. In the second leg of the quarter-final against Barcelona, Atletico were magnificent and should have scored more than they did.

Having drawn Chelsea today, it's going to be a massive test for Atletico going to Stamford Bridge.They hammered Chelsea last time they faced them in the Super Cup, but that was thanks to Falcao.

It will be much different and tougher this time around. Courtois has been cleared to play in the semi-final and I think it will be a huge test of his character.

Courtois has to face his parent club and attempt to deny his future teammates of scoring opportunities. It will no doubt  be very difficult for Courtois and if he is not in the right frame of mind mentally, then things will go wrong. However, with the reputation Courtois has built up, I don't think this will be much of a problem.

Chelsea - John Terry and Gary Cahill

Jose Mourinho will be very pleased to have avoided an encounter with both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Although Chelsea have drawn Atletico Madrid, it will be no surprise to see Mourinho play down Chelsea's chances. With Chelsea's strikers misfiring throughout the season, the key for this tie will be Chelsea's defence.

It took a while for Mourinho to find out who his best centre-back pairing was, but now he has finally stuck with the formidable partnership of John Terry and Gary Cahill, who have been superb this season. Chelsea have only conceded one goal at home in 2014 and it is absolutely vital that this statistic continues.

If Chelsea manage to keep a clean sheet at home - just like they did against PSG - I think they will have a great chance of going to the final. This tie will be evenly poised and will be an interesting encounter.

Real Madrid - Cristiano Ronaldo

There is no doubt that Ronaldo will have to be on top form for Real Madrid in the semi-finals. After a fantastic season so far, Ronaldo has to continue performing, even against the defending champions Bayern Munich.

We saw how Real Madrid struggled in the second leg against Borussia Dortmund and how Ronaldo was agitated on the sidelines, disgusted with his team's performance. They scraped through to the semi-finals after the 2-0 loss and were lucky that Henrikh Mkhitaryan didn't convert his chance to make it 3-0.

Many wished for Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich to be the final, but now that this isn't the case it will be very interesting to see the individual performances from the top players that can make all the difference in what will be a fascinating tie.

Bayern Munich - Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery

The Champions League trophy has never been successfuly defended before, but that record seems to be under threat more than ever before by Bayern Munich. After the immense success experienced last year under Jupp Heynckes, many thought it would be impossible to build on it.

However, Pep Guardiola has formed a formidable side and has already won the Bundesliga title in his first year in charge. This campaign was so one sided and Bayern were undefeated until their last league match against Augsburg where they lost whilst playing a second-string side.

Robben and Ribery have been key to Guardiola and Bayern's success this year. Having scored 19 and 15 goals respectively, they will have to perform against Real Madrid and terrorise the opposition full-backs.

As mentioned before, this tie is probably the more mouthwatering of the two and could be decided with some individual moments that will shock everybody.

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Topics:
Cristiano Ronaldo
Arjen Robben
John Terry
Franck Ribery
Football

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