Madrid Derby in semi-finals

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo (left), captain Sergio Ramos (centre) and defender Marcelo celebrate Ronaldo's third goal against Bayern Munich during their Champions League quarter-final second-leg match at the Bernabeu. The Portuguese made it
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo (left), captain Sergio Ramos (centre) and defender Marcelo celebrate Ronaldo's third goal against Bayern Munich during their Champions League quarter-final second-leg match at the Bernabeu. The Portuguese made it 3-2 on the night in extra time, before Real won 4-2 to progress 6-3 on aggregate.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Ronaldo can inflict more damage on Atletico; attacking Monaco face defensive giants Juve

NYON (Switzerland) • Holders Real Madrid face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals as the city rivals do battle once more and French surprise packages Monaco take on Juventus, following the draw yesterday.

The all-Madrid showdown is a rerun of the 2014 and 2016 finals in Europe's top club football competition. On both occasions, Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Real to victory in cagey affairs that failed to be settled after 90 minutes.

Real - aiming to become the first team to retain the Champions League title - will host Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 2 and a free-scoring Monaco side brimming with some of Europe's hottest young talents are home to a defensively brilliant Juventus a day later. The second legs will take place the following week.

Real director Emilio Butragueno told told BeINSports: "We know each other very well, this is the fourth time we meet Atletico in the Champions League but it will not be a final this time.

"Every detail will count and we will have to be very careful, they defend very well and have high-quality players who know how to take advantage of mistakes."

  • REAL MADRID V ATLETICO MADRID

    4-1

    Head to head in Europe, with two draws in seven matches.


    MONACO V JUVENTUS

    1-2

    Head to head in Europe, with one draw in four matches.

Going into the draw at the Uefa headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, all four teams made the usual noises: there is nothing to choose between any of them.

But the 39-year-old Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon broke ranks, saying that he would prefer to avoid a wily Atletico side because they are out of the LaLiga title race and so can rest players for the European competition.

Buffon, one of the best goalkeepers of all time but who has never won the Champions League, got his wish in missing out on Diego Simeone's side, who would dearly love to get one over Real and Ronaldo this time.

But he must face teenage striking sensation Kylian Mbappe, 18, and a rejuvenated Radamel Falcao.

Pavel Nedved, the former midfielder who is now an ambassador for Juventus, told BeINSports of the Monaco match-up: "It's 50-50. They have very young players who are under no pressure, who can play without fear. That is their strength, their asset."

Vadim Vasilyev, the French Ligue 1 side's vice-president, said they would be motivated by the bitter memories of being turfed out of the competition by the Italian side in the 2015 quarter-finals.

"It will be a matter of revenge, clearly," he said. "We're better than two years ago, no doubt about it."

In European football's second-tier Europa League, Manchester United will face Spanish side Celta Vigo in the semi-finals over two legs, while Dutch side Ajax take on France's Lyon.

Jose Mourinho's United will be strong favourites and have the advantage of playing the second leg at Old Trafford as they attempt to lift the Europa League, knowing victory in the final would give them a place in next season's Champions League.

United will travel to Spain for the first leg on May 4, before Celta visit Manchester for the return on May 11.

With United four points outside the Premier League's top four, winning the Europa League for the first time may represent their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Madrid Derby in semi-finals'. Print Edition | Subscribe