Data drop: Everything you need to know about this week’s Champions League semi-final fixtures
Champions League football is back, with the competition’s final four ready to do battle.
So we have used the Twenty3 Toolbox to dig out all the key facts, ahead of this week’s first-leg fixtures.
Real Madrid vs Manchester City
First up is a repeat of one of last year’s semi-finals – Real Madrid made it through on that occasion, beating Liverpool 1-0 to claim their 15th Champions League title.
The Spanish outfit did the heavy lifting in the first leg last season, by winning 3-1. They lost the second leg 4-3, but still edged the tie on aggregate (6-5).
However, this season, City are armed with a new spearhead in Erling Haaland, who has scored 12 goals in this Champions League campaign.
Will goals rain?
Few sides boast as much attacking talent as Manchester City and Real Madrid.
These two are neck-and-neck on the expected goals front, with Los Blancos registering 19.74 xG to City’s 23.6 in the competition.
Both sides have overperformed those tallies, with City scoring 25 to Real Madrid’s 26 – an average of 2.5 and 2.6 goals per 90, respectively.
It suggests a high-scoring affair is likely, given the extreme firepower both these teams possess within their ranks.
Where Real Madrid pip the Citizens is their volume of shots, averaging the sixth-most per match (16.3) and the second-most key passes (6.2).
Set-pieces suit City
Set-pieces could prove decisive in this tie.
Manchester City have won the second-most corners in the Champions League this season (62) – an average of 6.2 per match.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, have earned 53 corners, which ranks seventh in the competition after 10 matches.
Over two legs, City’s dominance in dead-ball situations could prove vital.
Some of football’s brightest stars will be on display in this match-up and, at City, none shine quite as brilliantly as Haaland.
The 22-year-old Norway international has been the star of the Citizens’ Champions League show, bagging a tournament-high 12 goals in a mere 595 minutes.
He is a constant nuisance to defences, making runs in behind, darting between markers and is willing to take on shots at goal from almost anywhere on the pitch.
Haaland ranks joint-second with Gonçalo Ramos for non-penalty shots on target (18), behind only Real Madrid’s young star Vinícius Júnior, who has 20.
The Brazilian winger is Los Blancos’ chief contributor, with six goals and four assists in 833 minutes of action.
No player in the competition has completed more dribbles (50), had more touches in the opposition box (76) or made as many progressive runs (58).
Expect the Brazilian to be a handful for whoever Guardiola decides to deploy on the right side of defence.
Ancelotti’s dark arts?
Interestingly, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have one of the cleanest disciplinary records in the Champions League this term.
Los Blancos have been shown a mere nine yellow cards (0.9 per match) and no red cards.
Their fouls committed per 90 is also the lowest in the tournament, with just 7.6, compared to City’s 8.6.
Stout City defence
While Real have plenty of attacking power, getting past Guardiola’s defence will be no easy task.
In the Champions League, no team has conceded fewer goals than Manchester City (four).
Moreover, they have plenty of options to mark different attackers, depending on who Ancelotti decides to play in his attacking three.
AC Milan vs Inter Milan
AC Milan take on neighbours Inter Milan in the Champions League for the first time since 2005, when the Rossoneri came out on top in the quarter-finals.
The pair have met three times this season, with the Nerazzurri winning each of the last two without conceding – they lost the other 3-2.
Given the long-standing history between these two rivals, this tie is an equally mouth-watering matchup.
Inter to have the attacking edge
Inter have netted one goal more than their rivals in the Champions League this season, scoring 16 to 15.
Still, Milan are a threatening counter-attacking side, with an xG of 3.35 from counterattacking situations, which ranks first in the competition.
Crucially, however, star Rossoneri forward Rafael Leao appears to be a significant doubt, after he picked up an injury in their last league outing.
The Portuguese winger has scored one, assisted four and completed the second-most dribbles in the Champions League (49). Without him, they lose a lot going forward.
Inter and AC Milan have both been astute defensively in this season’s Champions League campaign.
The Nerazzurri rank second in the competition for clean sheets (six), while the Rossoneri have managed five but conceded fewer goals (eight to 10).
Both sides have been effective at limiting the quality of their opponents’ chances – Milan’s expected goals against stands at 11.22xGA, while Inter’s is 13.34xGA.
Breaking through will take quite some effort at both ends of the pitch.
Milan and Inter’s disciplinary records are among the worst in the Champions League – so given the pair’s rivalry, a fiery affair seems likely.
This term, Milan have racked up a marginally worse 22 yellow cards – only seven other teams have received more – and one red.
Inter are not much better, having been on the receiving end of 19 yellow cards.
Together, they have committed a combined 251 fouls (120 for Inter and 131 for Milan).
Inter corners key
The Nerazzurri are a side that wins a high number of corners.
In the Champions League, they have averaged 5.2 corners per match, which ranks 10th in the competition.
Meanwhile, Milan have managed an average of 3.1, although they do win more free-kicks than their rivals (24 to 18).
Simone Inzaghi’s side can call on numerous options to find the back of the net, with Nicolo Barella, Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku having scored three goals each.
Lukaku has been the most clinical, given he has played just 127 minutes of Champions League football.
Olivier Giroud spearheads the attack for Milan and is their most likely scorer.
The France international has netted a team-high five goals – two from the penalty spot – in the Champions League this season.
He also leads the Rosseneri in shots attempted (21) – eight with his head. Without the assistance of Rafael Leao, Giroud will have to carry a greater goalscoring burden.
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