Edin Dzeko celebrates after sending his team into an early 1-0 lead against AC Milan in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final.
After a set of thrilling and surprising UEFA Champions League (UCL) semi-final games, all four teams still have their eyes set on a trip to the final in Istanbul. However, some teams will have a harder time achieving this after the first round of games. Let’s look at both semi-final games and evaluate each team’s chances of advancing to the final.
Inter Milan vs. AC Milan.
Going into the first leg, Inter was definitely in better form, and that showed early on as AC Milan fell two goals behind in just 11 minutes. AC Milan was unable to recover from this shocking start, as it struggled to create concrete chances. A notable contributing factor to this was the absence of AC Milan’s star attacker, Rafael Leão. AC Milan played three games without him this season, losing all three. Luckily for AC, Leão is expected to return for the second leg. Inter stayed resolute defensively, holding on to maintain a two-goal lead going into the return fixture, in which AC Milan will need to score at least two goals if they want to keep their chances of going to the final alive.
Manchester City vs. Real Madrid.
Despite Real Madrid taking the home advantage, Manchester City still went into the first leg of this matchup as favorites. Both teams showed why this was the case in the first half, quickly asserting control of the ball. Despite an early flurry of attacks from City, it was Madrid who scored first through a powerful effort from Vinicius Jr. This setback did not stop Manchester City’s dominance as they continued to pressure into the second half. It took until the 67th minute for City’s midfielder Kevin De Bruyne to fire a low rising shot past Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois. City gradually took their foot of the gas, creating an opening for Madrid to get back in the game. The match still finished 1-1, with the return fixture set to take place at the Etihad Stadium, where Manchester City will be in the driver’s seat to secure qualification to the finals.