Champions League semifinal preview

April, 16, 2012

The Champions League semifinals kick off Tuesday, so let's take a look at each team's chances in the first leg. Using ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI), we calculated the offensive and defensive ratings of each team, then matched them to determine their odds of advancing. Here's a look at the two matches this week.

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid, Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. ET

The first of the two semifinal matchups pits a Bayern Munich side with an impressive home record against a Real Madrid side that has been nearly invincible away from home in Champions League play.

Bayern has won all six home matches in Champions League play this year, scoring 19 times and conceding just three goals. Bayern's streak of 11 home wins in all competitions snapped on Saturday with a 0-0 draw. Bayern scored two or more goals in all 11 of those matches.

Madrid is undefeated away from home in the Champions League this season, scoring 10 times and conceding just one goal. Madrid comes in riding a 20-match unbeaten streak overall, and a 21-match unbeaten streak away from home in all competitions, last losing in September.

The two sides have played eight two-legged ties in Champions League play, splitting them four apiece. The most recent matchup was in the knockout round in 2006-07, when it ended 4-4 with Bayern winning on away goals.

SPI sees the first leg as a very even matchup, with Bayern's home-field advantage nearly canceling out Madrid's superior offensive rating. Bayern is projected to score an average of 1.3 goals, compared to 1.4 goals on average for Madrid. As a result, SPI projects the Spanish side will advance to the finals in 60.1 percent of the match predictions.

Chelsea vs. Barcelona, Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET

The second semifinal might see a streak end for one of the two sides. Chelsea has not lost at home in 2012, winning eight of its 11 matches in all competitions at Stamford Bridge, and Barcelona is unbeaten in its past 15 matches in all competitions.

Barcelona, in its fifth consecutive semifinal, is looking to become the first side to win back-to-back European Championships since AC Milan in 1990. Barca is undefeated on the road in Champions League play this season, winning four and drawing once.

Chelsea has made six semifinals in the past nine years but has advanced to the Champions League final just once, losing to Manchester United in the 2007-08 competition. The Blues have been nearly perfect at home in Champions League play this season, winning all five matches while conceding just twice.

The two sides have faced off 10 times in Champions League play, with Chelsea winning three, Barcelona winning three and four ending in draws. The most recent matchup was in the 2008-09 semifinals, when Barcelona prevailed 1-1 on away goals after a scoreless first leg at Camp Nou.

Barcelona has a superior offensive and defensive rating to Chelsea's, so Barcelona wins in over half of the first leg match predictions, according to SPI. Barcelona scores 1.7 goals on average compared to 1.0 for Chelsea. As a result, Barcelona is the heavy favorite, as SPI projects it to advance to the finals in 82.5 percent of the match predictions.



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