UEFA FINAL FOURS DECIDED
Although the draws for both the Champions League and Europa League semi-finals were made at the same time as the quarterfinals, it only gave us an idea of the possible permutations for the final four.
However, with the second leg of the quarterfinals now being completed in both competitions, the draw for the next phase is complete and it is fair to say, that some mouth-watering ties are on the horizon.
Looking at the Champions League first and the pairing that leaps off the page is Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester City and a next chapter of the rivalry between Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola.
These two managers squared off in 2019 edition of the competition, as Tottenham edged past Manchester City at the quarterfinal stage and in a game that was embroiled in VAR based controversy, Guardiola will be looking to exact revenge.
Not only that, but both he and Pochettino will be looking to land a first Champions League trophy for slightly different reasons. As far as Guardiola is concerned, it is a case of trying to finally take Manchester City to the promised land.
While for Pochettino, it is the aim to go one better than 2019 and after suffering disappointment with Tottenham in the Spanish capital of Madrid, 2021 could be the year in which such misery is finally put behind him.
The other Champions League semi-final sees Real Madrid square off against Chelsea and after having a two-year hiatus as holders of the trophy, Zinedine Zidane’s men would love nothing more than to return to European football’s top step.
Something that Thomas Tuchel missed out on last summer, as the German oversaw Paris Saint-Germain’s defeat to Bayern Munich in the 2020 final and after ending up at Stamford Bridge, he will also be looking to go one better.
While in the Europa League, Manchester United confirmed their place in the last four on Thursday night, as they made light work of Granada and their reward for doing so, is a pairing with Italian outfit Roma.
A tie that certainly will not be easy for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, as they look to reach next month’s final in Gdansk and live up to their current billing, as favourites to win this season’s Europa League.
If they can get the better of Roma in the Semi-finals, then either Villarreal or Arsenal lie in wait and this fixture has an interesting sub-plot attached to it. One that involves Unai Emery and his employment for both clubs.
The former Arsenal boss is now the head honcho for the Yellow Submarine, and he would love nothing more than to oversee the defeat of his previous employers, while continuing Villarreal’s Europa League charge.
While for Arsenal, it is very much a case of Europa League or bust for Mikel Artera and if he can oversee a second major trophy success in as many years, the reward will be Champions League football at the Emirates next season.