The final two places in the #Champions League semi-finals were decided last night, in two tense last-eight matches won by fine margins. After Barcelona and Bayern Munich had stormed through to the last-four stage the night before, both Juventus and Real Madrid endured much tighter second legs before making it through as well. With all four teams left in the competition having won either the European Cup or Champions League (as it is now known) previously, the semi-finals represent a tour de force of European footballing might. Between them they have won the trophy a staggering 21 times.

Reigning Serie A champions and runaway leaders this season, Juventus held a slender 1-0 advantage going into the second leg against Monaco in the Stade Louis II stadium.

Advertisements
Advertisements

That proved sufficient as neither side could break the deadlock on the night, with the game ending in a rather disappointing 0-0 draw. With defences on top, each side managed just the one shot on target throughout the entire game. Monaco had the bulk of possession, but Juve are past masters at soaking up pressure and snuffing out potential danger. So it was Arturo Vidal's penalty from the first leg that remained the difference at the end, as the Italians reached their first semi-final in the competition since 2003.

Real Madrid and local rivals Atletico resumed their hostilities at the Bernabeu, after a tough goalless draw in the first leg. Real were the more attack minded throughout, but Diego Simeone's side refused to buckle until late on in the game. After Atletico had been reduced to ten men on 76 minutes, when Arda Turan was sent off for a second yellow card, the game seemed to be destined for extra-time.

Advertisements

Yet there were still two minutes to play of normal time, when the (slightly) extra space afforded by being a player short allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to play a neat one two on the edge of the box. With defenders no doubt expecting him to shoot, he cleverly squared the ball for Javier Hernandez to slide the ball home from the centre of the area. Hernandez has had a quiet loan spell with the reigning Champions League winners, since joining from Manchester United, but there is no better way to join folklore than scoring against Atletico. His goal was sufficient for a 1-0 victory for Real and with it a matching score line on aggregate.

Sadly of course, all of the English clubs departed far earlier from the competition. Yet the four teams still battling it out for the top prize in European #Football can arguably be said to be those that the powers that be in UEFA would have wished to see at this stage. The two Spanish giants Barca and Real are always an attractive sight for the neutrals and have a massive global following.

Advertisements

Juventus have often been in AC Milan's shadow when it comes to the top competition, but they seem to be on the rise again both domestically and beyond. Bayern of course have been THE form team in the Champions League over the last five seasons, reaching the final itself three times in that period (winning in 2013).

The draw for the semi-finals will be made on Friday.