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UCL Preview: Man City hosts Real Madrid, Villarreal visits Liverpool

The UEFA Champions League field is down to four teams as the semifinal round kicks off on Tuesday with Pep Guardiola facing off against his old rivals from his La Liga days.

Manchester City welcomes Real Madrid to the Etihad Stadium, aiming to earn a first-leg win over Los Blancos. It will be the first meeting between the two clubs since the 2019-20 Round of 16, a two-legged tie that ended in the Citizens favor 4-2 on aggregate. Man City has won its last two league matches, out-scoring its opponents 8-1 over that span. Real Madrid has won four of its last five matches, including eliminating 2021 UCL winners Chelsea in the quarterfinals earlier this April. Karim Benzema has been on fire for Los Blancos, but five other players have delivered goals in back-to-back league wins.

The second semifinal meeting will take place on Merseyside as Liverpool welcomes Villarreal to Anfield. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds have won three matches in a row across all competitions, eliminating Man City from the FA Cup and also defeating Manchester United and Everton in EPL action. Villarreal sits in seventh place in La Liga, but did pull a major shock in the UCL quarterfinals by ousting Bayern Munich.

Here is a closer look at this week’s Champions League matchups:

Manchester City vs. Real Madrid

Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET, Univision/TUDN/Paramount+

Manchester City’s quest to lift a first-ever UCL trophy continues on Tuesday with Real Madrid visiting the Etihad Stadium.

The Citizens rebounded from their FA Cup exit at the hands of Liverpool by defeating Brighton & Hove Albion and Watford in back-to-back matches. Gabriel Jesus led the way on Saturday by becoming the first Brazilian player to score four goals in a single EPL match. Jesus’ efforts will be needed against Real Madrid, in what could be Man City’s toughest opponent yet this season.

Real Madrid can clinch the La Liga title this weekend, but first will focus on picking up a first leg victory on English soil. Los Blancos eliminated Chelsea in the quarterfinal round, albeit needing extra time to oust the defending champions. Karim Benzema has been a one-man wrecking crew for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, scoring five goals in his last five appearances, and racking up 12 goals alone in this season’s European competition.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal

Wednesday, 3 p.m.,Univision/TUDN/CBS/Paramount+

Liverpool will be heavily favored to advance past Villarreal, but overall cannot overlook the Spanish visitors on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds remain in the hunt for a quadruple this season, after already winning the English League Cup, advancing into the FA Cup Final, and remaining in the EPL title race. Liverpool is averaging 2.5 goals per match in the UCL this season, being led by Egyptian star Mohamed Salah’s eight goals in the competition. Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz, and Roberto Firmino can also help in the attacking third, giving Liverpool a dynamic attack no matter who starts.

Villarreal eliminated Bayern Munich in the quarterfinal round, but will find it tougher against Liverpool in the final four. Unai Emery’s side are riding a five-match unbeaten run, winning each of their last two matches in La Liga play. Dutch international Arnaut Danjuma has been a revelation this season in attack, contributing 16 goals across all competitions. Gerard Moreno and Dani Parejo are also veteran leaders in the Villarreal squad and will be key to helping the Spanish club pull a first leg shock at Anfield.

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