News ID:191260
Publish Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2017 19:14:53 GMT
Service: Sport

Real, Atletico Madrid to renew Champions League hostilities

Real, Atletico Madrid to renew Champions League hostilities

Real Madrid's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo gestures during the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal match against Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on April 18, 2017.
CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP

Holder Real Madrid faces Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semifinals as the rivals do battle once more and French surprise-package Monaco takes on Juventus, following the draw on Friday.

The all-Madrid showdown is a rerun of the 2014 and 2016 finals in Europe's top club competition, with a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Real victorious on both occasions in cagey affairs that both sides failed to settle after 90 minutes each time, AFP reported.

Real – aiming to become the first team to retain the Champions League – will host Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 2 and a free-scoring Monaco side brimming with some of Europe's hottest talent are home to Juventus on May 3, with the second legs the following week.

Real Madrid director and former striker Emilio Butragueno said, "We know each other very well, this is the fourth time we meet Atletico in the Champions League but it will not be a final this time.

"Every detail will count and we will have to be very careful, they defend very well and have high-quality players who know how to take advantage of mistakes," he told BeINSports.

Atletico, which boasts one of football's most deadly strikers in Antoine Griezmann, will move next season from the Vicente Calderon, its home for 50 years, to a new stadium.

Clemente Villaverde, a former Atletico player and now a director, said the Real clash would be a fitting farewell.

"Our fans and players have experienced two final defeats and know what it means and takes to get there – a lot of work," he told UEFA.com.

"Hopefully we can give the Vicente Calderon the goodbye it deserves."

Going into the draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland all four teams were making the usual noises: There is nothing to choose between any of them, they said publicly.

But the 39-year-old Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon broke ranks, saying that he would prefer to avoid a wily Atletico side because it is out of the La Liga title race so can rest players for Europe.

Buffon, one of the best goalkeepers of all time but who has never won the Champions League, got his wish in missing out on Diego Simeone's side, which would dearly loves to get one over Real and Ronaldo this time on Europe's biggest stage.

But instead he must face teenage striking sensation Kylian Mbappe, 18, and a rejuvenated Radamel Falcao in a last-four encounter that will be an interesting contrast – Juventus with its dogged, brilliant defense and a Monaco team that loves scoring goals.

The French side – Buffon labeled it "feisty" – is full of attacking vim and has hit a staggering 141 goals in all competitions this season.

Pavel Nedved, the former midfielder who is now an ambassador for Juventus, told BeINSports of the Monaco matchup: "It's 50-50. They have very young players who are under no pressure, who can play without fear.

"That is their strength, their asset."

Vadim Vasilyev, the French side's vice-president, said they would be motivated by the memories of being turfed out of the competition by the Italians in 2015 in the quarterfinals.

 

"It will be a matter of revenge, clearly," he said. "We're better than two years ago, no doubt about it."

 

Juve's year?

 

Real Madrid, for which Ronaldo hit a hat-trick as it saw off Bayern Munich in the quarters, is favorite with British bookmakers.

But Juventus was hugely impressive in beating Barcelona 3-0 in the first leg and then holding the Spanish champion to a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou on Wednesday in a defensive masterclass.

Beaten Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has tipped Italian champion Juventus to lift the trophy it last won in 1996 and it will be favorite against Monaco, especially because the second leg will be in Turin.

"Over the two legs they were better than us so they deserve to go through to the semifinals. I think they can win the Champions League this season," the Spanish international said after Buffon shut out Lionel Messi and Barcelona over 180 minutes of football.

The final is in Cardiff on June 3.

   
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Resource: AFP
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