With only four teams remaining, the UEFA Champions League returns with two enticing semifinals.
On Tuesday, Bayern Munich hosts Barcelona in the first leg, and Lionel Messi, despite an injured right hamstring, is expected to be passed fit to play. The injured little flea was required late in Barcelona’s quarterfinal second leg against Paris Saint-Germain, and his decisive cut and pass to David Villa led directly to Pedro's equalizer that sent Barcelona to the semifinals on away goals.
Far removed from the heart-stopping drama of Barcelona's path to the final four, Bayern Munich enjoyed a pleasant stroll in the park against Juventus with two clinical 2-0 victories for a convincing aggregate 4-0 quarterfinal score. Even with first-choice striker Mario Mandzukic suspended for the first leg, Bayern was projected to hold a decisive edge over Barcelona in Tuesday's first leg, according to the AccuScore computer.
Also, Bayern's domestic dominance and quarterfinal clinic pushed the German giants into the role of the most probable team to win the tournament.
In the other semifinal, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund promise goals, attacking play and all-around excitement. Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid crashed out to German opposition on penalty kicks in last season's semifinals. Much like Bayern did last season, Dortmund expects to take the game to Cristiano Ronaldo and company.
This season, Madrid seemingly sacrificed the domestic league in favor of the Champions League title. Similar to Madrid, Dortmund also appeared to lose focus on domestic football in favor of a run in Europe. Dortmund survived the dreaded "Group of Death" and arrived at the semifinal stage as the only unbeaten side in the competition.
[More AccuScore: Europe's top two clubs collide in semifinals]
During the group stage, Dortmund faced Madrid twice. In the match in Dortmund, the Germans won 2-1. In the meeting in Madrid, the Spaniards fought back with an 89th-minute equalizer to manage a 2-2 draw. If those score lines were to repeat, Dortmund would go through.
Even after taking the previous two meetings into consideration, the computer calculated Real Madrid to have the slightest of edges in a close tie. Also, Madrid's positive head-to-head displays against Barcelona made Madrid the second most likely team to take home top European honors.
|ACCUSCORE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PROBABILITIES|
|Team||Probability to make final||Probability to win title|
|Barcelona|| || |
|Bayern Munich|| || |
|Borussia Dortmund|| || |
|Real Madrid|| || |