Alex Keble assesses the Champions League semi-final draw, tipping Liverpool and Real Madrid to make it to the final...
"If Liverpool meet Real Madrid in the final then Klopp’s side might just be favourites. Zinedine Zidane isn’t much of a tactician, so it is easy to envisage Liverpool sitting deep, denying Ronaldo space, and then counter-attacking ruthlessly through the middle."
The draw for the semi-finals of the Champions League pits Liverpool against AS Roma and Bayern Munich against Real Madrid, with the first legs to be played at Anfield and the Allianz Arena respectively.
Jurgen Klopp will no doubt be delighted to have avoided the two giants of the competition - who face each other at the semi-final stage for the third time in seven years - but after the Italians' astonishing comeback victory against Barcelona in the previous round Liverpool can take nothing for granted.
For neutrals, it's the perfect draw. Roma's aggressive midfield and never-say-die attitude should make for a thrilling end-to-end battle with Liverpool, leaving the two most decorated clubs in the competition's history to battle it out in the more glamorous tie.
Here are some betting tips ahead of the Champions League semi-finals:
There is an emerging theory in club football that puts the Spaniards in the driving seat for this one. The elimination of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Barcelona suggests that domination of a domestic league leaves teams psychologically weaker than those battling for every point. It is difficult to mentally prepare for competitive matches when wins usually come so easy, and, tactically, run-away leaders get little practice playing against clubs of equal quality.
Bayern might just be blown away, then. They are yet to be tested in the Champions League, having beaten Besiktas and Sevilla in the knock-out stages to get this far. They lost 3-0 away at PSG in the group stages and won 3-1 at home, suggesting Jupp Heynckes' side could come unstuck when facing Cristiano Ronaldo.
By contrast, Real are devastating against fellow top sides, with the 3-1 defeat to Juventus this week an unusual blip on an otherwise near perfect record. They, and in particular Ronaldo, always seem to win when it matters most in this competition, making them clear favourites to progress.
It's worth noting that Bayern still rely upon ageing wingers Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery, while Robert Lewandowski didn't impress in either leg against Sevilla. By contrast Real look strong in every area, and after the scare against Juventus will no doubt be more focused this time.
It is difficult to see how Roma, an inconsistent side whose miraculous 3-0 win this week obscures their weak away performances against Shakhtar Donetsk and Barcelona, can overcome Liverpool. Klopp has a big advantage playing the first leg at Anfield, where the famously intimidating atmosphere could see the hosts gallop into a big early lead - as they did against Man City.
Roma lost 4-1 at the Nou Camp thanks to a catalogue of defensive errors, and although they were far more competitive than the score line suggests Roma nevertheless showed they will be vulnerable to the pace of Liverpool's front three.
What's more, they drew 3-3 with a very average Chelsea team in the group stages (where they also lost 2-0 to Atletico Madrid) and were beaten 2-1 by Shakhtar in Ukraine. Roma have won just one of their away matches in the Champions League this season - an unconvincing 2-1 at Qarabag. The Anfield crowd, coupled with Klopp's high-tempo football, should give Liverpool a commanding lead.
Roma's combative midfield and fearless counter-attacking approach could serve them well in Rome, but Liverpool have a new defensive resolve with Virgil van Dijk in the side. They are unlikely to crumble as Barcelona did.
If Liverpool meet Real Madrid in the final then Klopp's side might just be favourites. Zinedine Zidane isn't much of a tactician, so it is easy to envisage Liverpool sitting deep, denying Ronaldo space, and then counter-attacking ruthlessly through the middle.
In a one-legged tie, the English team will fancy their chances; it's worth putting money on them to lift the trophy for the sixth time.