The Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday and Wednesday are rocking European football with a star-studded duel between Karim Benzema’s Real Madrid and Erling Haaland’s Manchester City, and an overheated derby between AC Milan and Barcelona. ‘Inter.
The track to the stars has been rolled out for the four teams still in contention, with a Madrid defending champion determined to win his 15th title and improve his trophy record on June 10 in Istanbul.
On its own, Real has more coronations in the queen competition than its three opponents combined: seven for Milan, three for Inter and none for City.
The ambition of the English club is boundless in the wake of its wealthy Emirati owners who have been waiting for this trophy for a long time, like Pep Guardiola, a successful coach since arriving in Manchester in 2016, but who has always stalled in Europe despite the final lost to Chelsea in 2021.
But this summit against Real, Tuesday (9:00 p.m.) in Madrid, comes down above all, at the moment, to a duel of scorers. The Ballon d’Or Karim Benzema, 35, against one of his heirs to the post of N.9, the insatiable Erling Haaland, 22.
The Norwegian, who arrived last summer, has already scored 51 goals in 46 matches in all competitions, phenomenal statistics in the Premier League and the Champions League, where he dominates the scoring charts with 12 goals.
As for the French, the season disrupted by injuries, he is back in great shape, with ten goals since the beginning of April and a fresh trophy in addition to the cupboard, the King’s Cup won on Saturday.
He is aiming for his sixth “Big Ears Cup” and remembers having delivered his people last year at the same stage of the competition, with a penalty scored in extra time against the Cityzens…
The draw placed the two favorites in the same part of the table, but football lovers will not complain because it offers them, on the other side, an electric Milan derby on Wednesday (9:00 p.m.) which will bring back some memories .
Indeed, in two confrontations in C1, Inter never found the key to success against the neighbor, not winning any of the four matches and living two cruel eliminations.
In 2003 in particular, the Nerazzurri had yielded at the gates of the final on away goals (0-0, 1-1)… Quite funny when you consider that the two matches were played in the same place : the San Siro or Giuseppe-Meazza stadium, depending on which team is designated as “at home”.
That year, the rossonero club had won its sixth C1, four years before the seventh and last.
The other Milanese opposition in C1 dates from 2005, with the sad memory of the smoke bomb having hit goalkeeper Dida in the head, a match then interrupted and finally won on green carpet by AC Milan, already victorious 2-0 at the go.
But the derby is above all a clash of the present, between the last two Italian champions, who are also fighting at a distance in Serie A for a place for the next C1, offered to the first four in the ranking… Another option exists to get your direct ticket to the next edition: lift the trophy on June 10.