The biggest competition in European football is finally down to the penultimate stage with an altered format of one-and-done knockout fixtures in Lisbon, Portugal. Heavyweights like FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City were knocked out in the UEFA Champions League 2020 quarter-finals against the underdogs. The competition is now down to its final four sides who will square off in the semi-finals.
Germany and France provide two clubs apiece in the battle for European club football’s greatest prize in 2020. Bayern Munich are the only club in the top 4 to have tasted European glory in the past and for the first time in 24 years, there will be no English or Spanish sides in the Champions League semi-finals. Some big surprises, late drama and sheer dominance concluded a high-octane semi-final clash in the UEFA Champions League 2020. Bayern Munich will face Lyon on Thursday, with RB Leipzig in action against Paris St-Germain the night before. Let’s take a closer look at the top four clubs and analyse which teams can progress to the finals and lift the trophy this season.
Semi-Final 1: RB Leipzig vs PSG August 18 – 21:00 CET (12:30 AM IST)
Both teams will be making their first-ever competitive meeting aiming to reach their maiden UEFA Champions League finals. While the road to semi-finals for the French powerhouse with its high-profile squad was a late, late drama as they scored twice in the dying moments to break Atalanta’s hearts, Red Bull Leipzig came as a surprise package in the UEFA Champions League 2020.
RB Leipzig, a club formed in 2009 delivered seismic shocks to three times Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid who had outmanoeuvred reigning champions, Liverpool, en route to the quarter-finals. Julian Nagelsmann’s press, pass and punish style of play has added a level of threat to a young and ambitious side despite their relative inexperience. Leipzig has almost nothing to lose, having had a fairy tale run while PSG will enter the semifinals with the feeling that this finally could be the time they emerge as Champions of Europe.
Neymar, Mbappé, Ángel Di María and Icardi will be the biggest threat in attack for the French side and surprisingly PSG have impressed in defence as well, conceding just five goals in nine games. PSG will walk out as favourites for this game but underdogs Leipzig will aim to keep their opponents guessing through the full 90 mins with a seamless transition and flexibility in their play. If Leipzig wins they would become the seventh German side ever to appear in the showpiece final. While PSG last entered the semi-finals in 1994-95 campaign a win for them would see them become the first French side to reach the final since Monaco in 2003/04.
Scoreline prediction: RB Leipzig 1-3 PSG
Semi-Final 2: Lyon vs Bayern Munich
August 19 – 21:00 CET (12:30 AM IST)
In another Franco-German semi-final tie, Olympique Lyonnais who stunned Manchester City with a clinical all-round performance will face the German Bundesliga winners and 5-time Champions League winners, Bayern Munich. After the German champions ran riot over FC Barcelona which was predicted to be a standout tie of this season, Hans-Dieter Flick‘s side are the favourites to be crowned the new champions of Europe. Lyon, on the other hand, have emerged as dark horses after beating Juventus and City on the way. But, Bayern are clear universal favourites to win this tie.
Bayern have swept aside every opponent they’ve faced in the Champions League this season, scoring 39 goals along the way. Their fluid football, beautiful passing, lung-busting press, and exploitation of space have never been better and hands down this is the best Bayern team ever over the years. The 8-2 demolition of Quique Setien’s side displayed their current superiority and they must surely fancy their chances of lifting ‘The Treble” after that majestic win.
It’s a knockout game remember? This should be one factor that benefits Rudi Garcia and his men. Lyon have been a completely different beast in the Champions League despite an average domestic season. Complacency is always exploited in Champions league and the underdog status can give them the edge over their opponents. Bayern might find themselves in the receiving end due to errors if they underestimate Lyon and this would then become the biggest upset in Champions League history.
Scoreline prediction: Bayern 4-1 Lyon
Finals: PSG vs Bayern Munich
Logic and squad list on paper say we are headed towards a PSG vs. Bayern Munich final, but this tournament has been anything but logical with upsets, shocking score lines and the unpredictable becoming the norm. As a football fan, we would love to watch a high-intensity UEFA Champions League 2020 final involving the biggest names in European football.
The world’s two most expensive players, Neymar and Mbappe going against the goal machine Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Alphonso Davis, Philippe Coutinho and many more. What a night it would be for football featuring the greatest superstars of this generation, not Ronaldo or Messi but 22 men who have proved their worth in the fictional year- 2020 after the pandemic halted the tournament for 441 days.