We’ve reached the semi-final stage in the Champions League and Europa League with Liverpool and Arsenal representing Premier League interests respectively. Looking ahead to the ties, BetVictor brand ambassador Michael Owen makes his predictions.
Liverpool v Roma – Champions League, Tuesday
Liverpool are yet to lose in the European Cup/Champions League to Roma in three previous meetings – including the penalty shoot-out success in the 1984 Final in Rome – and I expect the Reds to take a lead back to the Italian capital for the second-leg in just over a week’s time.
Liverpool have scored 33 times in the Champions League this season and I expect to see the Reds come flying out of the traps at Anfield. The fans played their part against City in the quarter-final and I expect to see the same passion and energy on and off the pitch.
Liverpool were brilliant in the quarter-final as they came past Manchester City (Getty)Roma have won just one of their last 14 Champions League games on the road – and that was at Qarabag earlier in the season – and are without a clean sheet in their last 26 away games in the competition.
Newly crowned PFA Footballer of the Year Mo Salah has scored in his last four Champions League starts for the Reds and will meet up with a number of old friends and former team-mates. That friendship will be put on hold for 90 minutes, however, in what will be a white-hot Anfield atmosphere – I take Liverpool to take a significant lead to Rome.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Roma
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid – Champions League, Wednesday
These two great clubs have played 24 times previously in European competition with nothing between them – 11 wins each and two draws, although Real Madrid have held the upper hand in recent years winning the last five.
The Whites have won on their last two visits to the Allianz Arena (4-0 in the 2014 semi-final and 2-1 in last year’s quarter-final) and on both occasions the Spanish giants have gone on to lift the trophy.
Cristiano Ronaldo is this season’s Champions League top scorer (Getty)I cannot split the sides midweek but hope and expect my old side to find the back of the Bayern net. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in his last 11 Champions League games, which seems almost inconceivable such is the quality of the opposition.
I make no apologies for hoping and expecting to see two of my former clubs Liverpool and Real Madrid, in next month’s final in Kiev. Whilst the Reds should take a lead to Italy, I feel Los Blancos will have to settle for a draw.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 1-1 Real Madrid
Arsenal v Atletico Madrid – Europa League, Thursday
This is the first time these clubs have met in European competition and it promises to be a tight, cagey affair despite the fact that Arsenal have scored the most goals in the competition so far this season (29) and Atletico have scored 15 times in six games since they entered the competition.
The Gunners have scored at least three times in their last six home games in all competitions, but the Spanish side will represent a much tougher challenge. Atletico were held 0-0 at home by Real Betis – who had the best opportunities to break the deadlock – at the weekend, but Diego Simeone rested a number of key players- including Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann – and Betis went into the game having won their last six games.
Arsene Wenger will be looking to go out on a high at Arsenal by winning the Europa League (AFP)Atletico currently sit second in La Liga and have kept 11 clean sheets on the spin at home in all competitions. Arsenal cannot afford to lose the first leg and I do not think Arsene Wenger will play quite as attacking a side as the one who faced West Ham on Sunday. A clean sheet would give the Gunners every chance of reaching the final in Lyon next month.
Just a word on Arsene Wenger who announced his retirement last week. Wenger was a pioneer who changed the footballing landscape forever. He built a dynasty at Highbury/Emirates that will never be forgotten, and he will always be remembered as being one of English footballs greatest ever managers. Your innings well played sir.
Prediction: Arsenal 0-0 Atletico Madrid
More: Arsenal FC
Michael Owen is a brand ambassador for BetVictor. For more tips from Michael read his Champions League column here and his Europa League column here.