All set for the Grand Finale on 10 June when it will be decided at Istanbul that who wears the crown of European Clubs. Two Italian, one Spanish, and one English team had qualified for the semifinals of Europe’s top football clubs’ championship. At such a level, and in search of rare glory, high voltage contests are expected. The 1st leg match between top-bracket teams of respective countries, England and Spain, was of high quality with a (1 – 1) draw whereas the contest between two Italian teams was tepid (Inter 2 – 0 Milan). The second-leg matches were also not up to the expectations of the fans as the much-anticipated contest between Manchester City and Real Madrid turned out to be a one-sided affair whereas the match between the Italian teams retained its previous tone. Although nothing is sure about the winner of the final while it is widely believed that Manchester City will overcome Inter. Most pundits are giving City a 70% win probability for the final at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.
Semifinals – 2023: 2nd Leg
2nd Semifinal – 17 May: Real Madrid (Spain) 0 – 4 Manchester City (England)
Just like the previous week at Santiago Bernabeu, City took an aggressive posture from the first blow of the referee’s whistle. It was once again the sheer brilliance of Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who saved much more Real blushes with many saves as City made 8 attempts at Real goal in the first 20 minutes. In front of a roaring Etihad Stadium crowd, Real was rattled and could never re-group for a counterattack for a meaningful and coordinated response. City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva scored in quick succession in the 23rd and 37th minutes against the 14–time European champions. City’s 3rd goal came in the 76th minute through a De Bruyne deflected shot off Real’s Militao. Their 4th goal was scored by Julian Alvarez in injury time who came as a late replacement for Haaland, who could not add to his incredible season’s tally of 53 goals only due to the brilliance of Real goalkeeper Courtois, who was the best and the busiest of Real players in this match. Overall, it was a disappointing show from Real Madrid and sweet revenge by Manchester City who lost to Real in an almost unbelievable manner in the semis last year. City’s owner Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi must be eager to win the first European crown for his club which he bought in 2008 and so must be Pep Guardiola who has won heaps of domestic honors but never a Champions League Cup for the city as their manager/coach. All indicators point that it is time for City, but they still have one last hurdle to cross.
1st Semifinal – 16 May: Inter Milan (Italy) 1 – 0 AC Milan (Italy)
The match played at San Siro between the two Italian sides proved to be better than the routine showing last week. Once again, Milan failed to score. Inter were happy to keep the ball in the middle region due to their 2-goal advantage from the 1st leg match. Still, with 43% possession, they managed a goal in the 74th minute. The introduction of Romelu Lukaku in the second half proved to be the reason for this as he set up Lautaro Martinez for the only goal of the match. Inter was solid in defense and denied Milan a place in the final. Although the pundits heavily favor Manchester City to win, 2010 champions Inter have wowed to give a tough challenge to their opponents. Inter have indeed, a tough fight at their hands.
68th UEFA Champions League 2023: 1st Leg Semifinals Held
Two Italian, one Spanish, and one English team had qualified for the semifinals of Europe’s top football clubs’ championship. At such a level, and in search of rare glory, high voltage contests are expected. The match between top-bracket teams of respective countries, England and Spain, was of high quality whereas the contest between two Italian teams was tepid.
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The 2nd leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City will decide the 11th June Final clash teams to be played in Istanbul and be crowned as the European Champion.
Semifinals – 2023
This year’s first leg of the semifinals was played on the 9th and 10th May. Real Madrid faced Manchester City and Inter took on Milan. It is to the credit of the Italians that their two teams are in the semifinals of the Champions League as well as in the semis of the Europa League.
The second leg matches will be played on the 16th and 17th of May.
1st Semifinal – 9th May: Real Madrid (Spain) 1 – 1 Manchester City (England)
Presently No. 2 in La Liga, Real Madrid hosted current EPL leaders Manchester City at Santiago Bernabeu. City took an aggressive posture from the word Go. It was the sheer brilliance of Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who saved at least 4 goals in the first 20 minutes as City kept on attacking. Real were rattled and it took them a while to coordinate their response. Despite overwhelming possession by City in the first half hour (70%), it was Real who drew first blood. Forward Vinicius Junior received a pass and after dodging a City defender, he netted a powerful curling shot from the edge of the box into the net in the 36th minute. As Real stabilized, the match progressed in a real contest manner. The leading scorer of EPL and the Champions League Erling Haaland was beautifully denied any scoring opportunity by Real defenders. It fell on ever-reliable Kevin De Bruyne to come to City’s rescue as he equalized with a sizzling shot in the 67th minute. It remains to be seen what will happen on 17th May at Etihad Stadium, Manchester but in the eyes of the fans, that will be the real final of the tournament.
2nd Semifinal – 10th May: Inter (Italy) 2 – 0 Milan (Italy)
The match played at San Siro between the two Italian sides presently 4th and 5th on the points table of the Italian top league Serie A, did not fulfill the fantasies of the fans as the game turned into a tepid affair after two early goals by Inter. In the 8th minute, Dzeko held a ball from a corner shot and sent a sidefooted volley into the net to give Inter the lead. In the 11th minute, Dimarco sent a ball towards Martinez who deftly left it and allowed Mkhitaryan to come from behind and slam a shot into the goal to give Inter their second goal and huge advantage of away goals. The second half was more routine as both teams were more or less equal in possession and tactics. However, Milan failed to score. Inter just have to hold their nerves on the return leg on 16th May to book a place in the final.