Champions League

Atletico have edge in Champions League semis - Buffon

2017-04-21 08:40
Gianluigi Buffon (Getty Images)

Nyon - Real Madrid are defending champions and Monaco the most "feisty" but Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says that Atletico Madrid are the "trickiest".

Buffon shut out Lionel Messi and Barcelona over two legs in the quarter-finals but his Juventus side must beat one of the above in the last four to keep alive his dreams of a first Champions League title.

On the eve of Friday's semi-final draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland at 1000 GMT, all four teams were making the usual noises: there is nothing to choose between any of them, they say publicly.

But neutrals would probably prefer not to see a rerun of the 2014 and 2016 finals, when Real beat Atletico both times, in 2014 in extra time and last year on penalties in a tight and unremarkable affair that was quickly forgotten.

The 39-year-old Buffon said that Atletico, who would dearly love revenge over Real in the final in Cardiff, might have an edge over the other three teams because they are out of the La Liga title race so can rest players for Europe.

"The only distinction from the three teams is that Atletico Madrid have a more marked and defined position in the (league) standings," the stopper said.

"The other two (Real and Monaco) are fighting for the championship (as are Juventus) so that could be a factor."

Real Madrid, for whom Cristiano Ronaldo hit a hat-trick as they saw off Bayern Munich in the quarters, are favourites with British bookmakers.

But Juventus were hugely impressive in beating Barcelona 3-0 in the first leg and then holding the Spanish champions to a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou on Wednesday in a defensive masterclass.

Italian media are confident that the perennial Serie A winners can deliver Buffon Champions League glory at last.

Gazzetta dello Sport cited strong evidence in Juve's almost "impenetrable defence" and Gazzetta columnist Alessandro De Calo wrote of the prospect of domestic and European domination for the Turin club: "Henceforth, there's no doubt: there's a smell of the treble in the air."

Beaten Barcelona defender Gerard Pique concurred, tipping Juventus to lift the trophy they last won in 1996.

"Over the two legs they were better than us so they deserve to go through to the semi-finals. I think they can win the Champions League this season," Pique said.

French league leaders Monaco remain outsiders but they have already claimed victims in Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals and Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur before that.

The French side are full of attacking vim and have hit a staggering 141 goals in all competitions this season.

And in teenage striking sensation Kylian Mbappe, allied with a rejuvenated Radamel Falcao, they have the firepower to trouble even Juventus and Buffon.

The Champions League final is on June 3.

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Tuesday, 26 September 2017
Sevilla v Maribor, Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 20:45
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk, Etihad Stadium 20:45
APOEL v Tottenham Hotspur, Neo GSP 20:45
Spartak Moskva v Liverpool, Otkrytiye Arena 20:45
Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid, Signal-Iduna-Park 20:45
Monaco v Porto, Stade Louis II. 20:45
Napoli v Feyenoord, Stadio San Paolo 20:45
Besiktas v RB Leipzig, Vodafone Stadyumu 20:45
Wednesday, 27 September 2017
Qarabag v Roma, Bakı Olimpiya Stadionu 18:00
Juventus v Olympiakos Piraeus, Allianz Stadium 20:45
Sporting CP v Barcelona, Estadio Jose Alvalade 20:45
Atletico Madrid v Chelsea, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 20:45
PSG v Bayern Munchen, Parc des Princes 20:45
Basel v Benfica, St. Jakob-Park 20:45
Anderlecht v Celtic, Stade Constant Vanden Stock 20:45
CSKA Moskva v Manchester United, VEB Arena 20:45
Tuesday, 17 October 2017
Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 20:45
Manchester City v Napoli, Etihad Stadium 20:45
Maribor v Liverpool, Ljudski vrt 20:45
APOEL v Borussia Dortmund, Neo GSP 20:45
Spartak Moskva v Sevilla, Otkrytiye Arena 20:45
RB Leipzig v Porto, Red Bull Arena 20:45
Monaco v Besiktas, Stade Louis II. 20:45
Feyenoord v Shakhtar Donetsk, Stadion Feijenoord 20:45
Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Qarabag v Atletico Madrid, Bakı Olimpiya Stadionu 18:00
Juventus v Sporting CP, Allianz Stadium 20:45
Bayern Munchen v Celtic, Allianz-Arena 20:45
Barcelona v Olympiakos Piraeus, Camp Nou 20:45
Benfica v Manchester United, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 20:45
Anderlecht v PSG, Stade Constant Vanden Stock 20:45
Chelsea v Roma, Stamford Bridge 20:45
CSKA Moskva v Basel, VEB Arena 20:45
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Celtic v Bayern Munchen, Celtic Park 21:45
Sporting CP v Juventus, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Atletico Madrid v Qarabag, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:45
Manchester United v Benfica, Old Trafford 21:45
PSG v Anderlecht, Parc des Princes 21:45
Basel v CSKA Moskva, St. Jakob-Park 21:45
Olympiakos Piraeus v Barcelona, Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki 21:45
Roma v Chelsea, Stadio Olimpico 21:45
Wednesday, 01 November 2017
Besiktas v Monaco, Vodafone Stadyumu 19:00
Liverpool v Maribor, Anfield 21:45
Porto v RB Leipzig, Estadio Do Dragao 21:45
Sevilla v Spartak Moskva, Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Shakhtar Donetsk v Feyenoord, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v APOEL, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:45
Napoli v Manchester City, Stadio San Paolo 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Real Madrid, Wembley Stadium 21:45
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