Four talking points ahead of the Champions League semi-finals

Four talking points ahead of the Champions League semi-finals
Four talking points ahead of the Champions League semi-finals

Four talking points ahead of the Champions League semi-finals, featuring a showdown between England’s biggest names and Paris Saint-Germain’s soft centre.

Kane and Bellingham go head-to-head

Just two English players have ever won the Champions League with a foreign club, when Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves earned wins in consecutive seasons between 2000 and 2002, with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively.

This week, the former teams of that duo compete for a place in the final, with English influence again at the forefront of their challenges. Harry Kane’s Bayern Munich take on Jude Bellingham’s Real Madrid, as arguably England’s most influential players collide for foreign superpowers in continental competition.

Kane has been the shining light of Bayern’s season with 42 goals and has been directly involved in 10 goals in the Champions League this season, a joint-record for an English player in a single season, alongside David Beckham (1998/99 and 2001/02) and Steven Gerrard (2007/08).

Bellingham, meanwhile, has been a revelation for Real. The pressure of a Galactico arrival has not fazed the 20-year-old, who has scored 21 goals and registered 10 assists in 36 appearances for the Spaniards.

It’s set to be a showdown to remember.

Problems mount for bruised Bayern

Thomas Tuchel faces a selection headache ahead of Bayern Munich’s clash with Real Madrid, amid the mounting injury problems for the German giants. Matthijs de Ligt and Konrad Laimer were forced into early substitutions at the weekend, while Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry and Dayot Upamecano are doubts, and Kingsley Coman and Sacha Boey are sidelined.

It is far from ideal preparation for the Bavarians, ahead of a Champions League glamour tie with the 14-time European champions. It is the eighth time the teams have met at this stage, with Real Madrid progressing from the last two.

Not for the first time this season, the emphasis will be on the aforementioned Kane to make a difference. Kane reached 42 goals for the season with a brace against Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend, setting a new career-best for a single campaign.

Paris Saint-Germain need to fix soft centre

With Ligue 1 wrapped up for a record-extending 12th time at the weekend, it’s full focus on an elusive European title for Paris Saint-Germain. The French champions take on Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals as the Parisians look to reach the Champions League decider for a second time.

Favourites heading into the game, PSG need to find a solution to the soft centre that has plagued recent performances. Luis Enrique’s side thrice trailed in a 3-3 draw with Le Havre at the Parc des Princes at the weekend and have recorded just one clean sheet in their last seven Ligue 1 games.

In Europe this season, it’s only three shutouts in 10 fixtures. Enrique must find the right combination for his backline ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Dortmund, and Milan Skriniar will be expected to return after starting against Le Havre from the bench. Nuno Mendes and Lucas Hernandez are also options to return.

Have Dortmund learned their lessons?

Borussia Dortmund have exceeded expectations to reach the last four, with their European form at odds with a disappointing domestic campaign. Having topped the tournament’s Group of Death, Dortmund have navigated ties with PSV and Atletico Madrid to reach this stage.

In wait are Paris Saint-Germain, in a rematch of their group-stage games. Despite Dortmund winning the group, the Germans were unable to match PSG over those two games.

The French champions sealed a 2-0 win in Paris and held Dortmund to a draw in the return. On both occasions, PSG dominated the possession and chances and Dortmund will need to have learned lessons from those ties to reach a first final since 2013.

Read – Iconic Performances: Lewandowski’s four-goal destruction of Real Madrid

See more – Champions League: The record scorers as Mbappe enters top 10

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