The 2022/2023 UEFA champions league tournament which began in June 2022 last year is set to witness an end on what may be tagged a historical note, as it witnesses some of the most unusual happenings in the history of the tournament.
The champions league tournament which opened its contest with 32 qualified teams from top-division European leagues reaches the climax with 4 teams, including Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Manchester City, left to rumble for the final spot.
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Italian Resurgence & Milan Fratricide
Italian clubs have a strong history of performance in the UEFA Champions League, having won the tournament 12 times in total. However, in recent years their performance has been somewhat inconsistent but a turn-around is currently being witnessed this year.
After Inter Milan defeated Portuguese team, Benfica in the Quarterfinals, fate spun them back to the position they were in during the 2002/03 champions league season. Having been set up for a fratricide, Inter-Milan and AC-Milan, arch-rivals and Milan neighbour, both of which are currently missing on the Serie A top 4 spots, will take arms against each other in the Semi-finals, to decide who trumps over to battle for the top reward.
Since 2018, this is the first time an Italian team will qualify for the Semi-finals of the tournaments. Surprisingly, two of them take spots in the four-team semi-final contest, making the second time of this fratricide, since 2003 when they last battled at the same spot and AC Milan triumphed.
In the tournament’s 2004/2005 season when this Milan derby resurged at the quarter-finals, AC-Milan again triumphed with a home and away victory over Inter-Milan.
Madrid and Manchester City at Loggerheads
Seeking its second Champions League final feature and hoping to win the title for the first time, Manchester City is drawn to take up the title holder, 14 times tournament winner and UCL’s most successful team, Real Madrid.
Beating Liverpool in a 3-1 score, In Kyiv in 2018, Madrid recorded three finals triumph in a row in the UEFA tournament – making the first team to do so on more than one occasion.
After Madrid defeated Chelsea – home and away – in the quarter-final matches and City put an end to Bayern Munich’s UCL title desire, it became a dictate of fate that both will face again since meeting at the same spot in 2022. However, in a 6-5 aggregate score, Madrid imposed a bitter end on City’s trio-title desire during that football year.
As both are set to meet for the ninth time, football fans show a keen interest in the likely result of the contest, the reason being that both currently sit on the number 2 spots of their respective leagues.
Out of their 8 outings, both have won each other 3 times and have played to a draw twice, with City remarkably eliminating Madrid from the round of 16 in 2020 in a home and away thrashing.
Between Ancelotti and Guardiola
Behind the contest between the two teams, there is a hidden battle of interest between coaches of both teams who have a remarkable history of the European tournament.
Carlo Ancelotti is one of the most successful managers in the history of the Champions League. He has won the competition four times as a manager, with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007, and with Real Madrid in 2014 and 2022. In addition, he has reached the final of the competition five times, finishing as the runner-up twice with AC Milan in 2005 and 2007, and thrice with Real Madrid in 2016, 2017 and 2022.
Ancelotti will allow himself to win his third champions league title for Madrid if his team aces past title-hungry City at the semi-finals in May.
On the other hand, Pep Guardiola who is also widely regarded as one of the greatest football managers of all time has a stunning record in the UEFA Champions League. Guardiola has won the Champions League three times as a manager, twice with Barcelona and once with Bayern Munich.
Pep Guardiola will get a career-changing opportunity if his team succeeds at holding back Real Madrid in the semi-finals, as he would have the opportunity to win the title for the fourth time to his name and the first time for City.
The much-awaited resumption of the 2022/2023 Champions League season will take place on the 9th of May, as the illustrious teams of City and Madrid grace the pitch for the opening of the semi-finals. The following day will witness the clash of two Italian titans, Inter and AC Milan, in a high-stakes battle for a spot in the grand finale.
On the 10th of June, the curtains will draw on the tournament, as the victor of the clash between Madrid and Man City takes on the triumphant team from the encounter between Inter and AC Milan, in a final showdown to determine the ultimate winner.