UCL Semifinals Overview and Predictions


Casey Held

As quickly as the competition started with 32 teams, we’re left with four. Four teams remain in Europe’s most prestigious soccer tournament. These teams have all fought hard to get to where they are, but only two will advance to the final, and I’m going to predict who those will be.

First, we take a look at Inter Milan vs. AC Milan, Derby della Madonnina, as it is commonly referred to as. Two teams from the same city facing each other head to head for a place in the final; it’s going to be an exceptional tie. This will be the first time that these two sides have met in the Champions League since the 2004-2005 season, which AC Milan won 3-0 on aggregate. Can AC Milan do it again on the biggest stage of them all? Let’s break it down. AC Milan reached the semifinals by taking down Napoli, who have easily been one of the best teams in the world this season. Inter did so by defeating Portuguese giants Benfica, although they tied the second leg. AC Milan will stride into the game with confidence, as they are in great form right now. Inter can’t necessarily say the same, but they’ll be confident as they have a good record against their red rivals, having beaten them three out of the last four times they’ve met. AC Milan will go into the tie with no major injuries. The same cannot be said for Inter, who are unsure if Slovakian defender Milan Škriniar will be fit to play after undergoing spinal surgery.

 As for the predictions of the game itself, I think the first leg will finish 1-1, with goals coming from Rafael Leão and Lautaro Martínez. Considering neither team has been this far in at least 15 years, I believe that both teams will play cautiously, so as to not squander the golden opportunity they both have. I don’t think the same will happen in the second leg, however. With all to play for, I think we’ll see which team is really cut out for the final. I think AC Milan will win the second leg 2-0, with both goals coming from Olivier Giroud, who is more than up to the task of performing when it matters most. AC Milan will advance to the Champions League final for the first time since 2007, defeating their biggest rivals 3-1 on aggregate.

It’s safe to say that Manchester City vs. Real Madrid is the more anticipated of the two games. Two undeniable great teams, two of the most recognizable club names in modern soccer, two clubs with some of the best players in the entire world, will face off twice in May to determine who will play the winner of the Inter Milan vs. AC Milan tie. Unlike that game, however, these teams know all about each other when it comes to the Champions League. These sides met last year in this exact same stage. That tie was one of the best in the history of the sport, with Rodrygo scoring two goals in added time to overturn Real Madrid’s deficit and then go on to win in extra time. Real Madrid have the more recent success against City, but the team from Manchester did take down Madrid in the Champions League just a few years ago. Regardless of who you think will win, everyone must admit that this is a must-watch matchup. Courtois vs. Ederson, Dias vs. Militão, De Bruyne vs. Modrić, Vini vs. Mahrez, Haaland vs. Benzema. These individual matchups will be just as wild as the games themselves.

I think both teams will come out flying in the first leg and the score will end 2-1 to Manchester City. Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez will score for Manchester City, with Benzema scoring once for Los Blancos. As for the second leg, I expect Real Madrid to chase the game and try to punish Man City early. I can’t see this happening however. With a healthy Ruben Dias and an in-form John Stones, you can argue Man City’s center back pairing is one of the best in the world. Although Karim Benzema is an exceptional player, I believe that if Manchester City’s defense can contain Vinicius Junior, Real Madrid will be very frustrated and have difficulty scoring. Although defending Vini is no easy task due to his incredible speed and flair, I believe that if Manchester City play Kyle Walker at right back, the Blues will fare just fine. Ironically, “Walker” is one of the fastest players in the game and if he can defend Vini well enough, I think Manchester City will win the second leg 2-0. Both goals will come from Erling Haaland, who we are watching make history every game he plays. It’s been a monumental season from the Norwegian, and I believe he’ll terrorize the 14x UCL winners’ defense.

You might as well place your bets now, because I’ve just given you the exact answers regarding what’s going to happen in this season’s Champions League semifinals.