Barcelona given chance to extend German Champions League streak
Jose Mourinho has already shown against Barcelona that he is capable of turning around disappointing results and he will need to showcase his managerial credentials again in the semi finals of the Champions League.
Mourinho’s first El Classico in the Real Madrid dugout ended in a 5-0 defeat, when he went in without a midfield enforcer, moved Cristiano Ronaldo into a more alien position and had Mesut Ozil playing too deep.
He has since learnt from these mistakes and Real have only lost one of their last eight against Barcelona in all competitions. There is certainly the argument that Barca would have been their chosen semi-final opposition.
Instead, Real face Dortmund, who took four points off them in the group stages of the Champions League this season.
Therefore, Mourinho again has to change tactics in the hope of securing a positive result and Real did beat Dortmund the last time this pair met in a semi final, which was 2-0 on aggregate back in 1997/98.
Now in a third successive semi final, Real Madrid are 2/1 to win the tournament for the first time in over a decade, with Dortmund tournament outsiders at 6/1.
Alternatively, Real are 2/5 to reach the final, but to do so they will probably have to beat a team unbeaten in this season’s competition so far.
Meanwhile, Barcelona remain favourites at 8/5 to win the Champions League despite potentially getting the toughest draw with Bayern Munich.
The fact that they have come through all seven of their historical ties with German opposition must be deemed a plus and Lionel Messi will have particularly fond memories of the last, when he helped himself to five goals against Bayer Leverkusen in a 7-1 success.
The tie interestingly pits Pep Guardiola’s future employers against his previous ones and he could well speak to Bayern early to offer some advice on how best to thwart Barcelona.
Given their progress through the tournament so far and dominance of Juventus in the last round, Bayern may well be the value call at present to win the Champions League at 7/2, although their tendency of almost always finding a way to lose may put off some punters.
So preference may be for the 6/4 that Bayern qualify at the expense of Barcelona, leaving the final open for them to falter.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.