Ahead of the decisive second leg fixtures on Tuesday and Wednesday, it’s time to take a look at the key element that could lead every participant towards European coronation. Even though Manchester City hold an advantage thanks to their slim but important away win in Paris, and even Chelsea did well for themselves with an away draw at Madrid, it’s still all up for grabs in the Champions League semi finals.
Manchester City – Squad Depth
Just to give you an example on how deep is Pep Guardiola’s squad, the Spanish tactician left the likes of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Ferran Torres, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy and ever star-man Raheem Sterling on the bench for the entire match at the Parc des Princes last week.
The Cityzens’ ability to rotate their starting lineups without jeopardizing the quality of the team has kept the squad refreshed for the last and most crucial part of the campaign.
Moreover, Guardiola has been able to switch between his players based on the characteristics needed for every clash between the Premier League and the Champions League.
PSG – Strike Power
Whilst all for the other sides possess strong attacking departments (even if Chelsea fans would protest over the misfiring Timo Werner), Mauricio Pochettino has a unique strike force at his disposal.
Kylian Mbappé should become the biggest football star on the planet soon enough, and Neymar’s skillset is from another world. But the Parisians can also rely on the under-appreciated Angel Di Maria, as well as Mauro Icarid and Moise Kean, who can always add another dimension in the final third.
Chelsea – Tactical Identity
All four clubs undoubtedly possess great managers at the helm, but Thomas Tuchel succeeded in creating a clear tactical identity for Chelsea despite being at the club for a relatively short period.
The Blues now play in an almost unchangeable 3-4-3 lineup, and most of the players have already adapted to their manager’s style of football.
It remains to be seen whether or not this will be enough to upset their Champions League opponents who may have a certain edge in terms of squad quality.
Real Madrid – Midfield Unit
Yes, Sergio Ramos remains a unique leader in defense, whilst Karim Benzema is a world class striker. Nonetheless, Real Madrid have only been able to hit their stride this season when their midfield unit base began to smoothly operate like in the old days.
On their day, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro can represent the most complete midfield trio in the world. These three players have led Los Blancos for three Champions League triumphs in a row, and will be looking to do so for at least one more time.