Pitchside

Atletico Madrid the ones to avoid in the semi-final draw

Pitchside

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It may be surprising to some, but the smallest of the four clubs in Friday’s Champions League semi-final draw have actually been the best side in the competition so far.

Atletico Madrid, who reached their first European Cup or Champions League semi-final since 1974 by ousting Liga rivals Barcelona, are the only unbeaten side in the tournament, have scored 22 goals and conceded the least of any team in the competition (5).

They dominated a group which, while not the hardest, featured European stalwarts Zenit St Petersburg and FC Porto; they easily ousted Milan in the second round and, of course, out-thought and out-played the mighty Barca to earn their place in the last four.

Incredibly difficult to beat, and supremely pumped-up for the big games, their three Liga defeats this season came away to inferior opposition (Espanyol, Almeria and Osasuna), while their only defeats to a big club came home and away in the Copa del Rey to a Real Madrid side they beat in La Liga.

They are on an incredible run of form, unbeaten in 10 matches, and have won their last six in La Liga at a time most thought they would fade. There is an injury doubt over top-scorer Diego Costa, but without him they still got past Barca.

Bayern Munich remain the best team in the world, and the favourites, but they have lost a few games in Europe this season, and Atletico are in the best form.

Below we run down the four semi-finalists, their record in Europe this season, their star players and their potential problems in the semis.

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BAYERN MUNICH (defending champions)

Bookmaker odds to win CL: 11/8 (favourites)

How they got there:

Group D (winners)

Bayern Munich 3-0 CSKA Moscow; Manchester City 1-3 Bayern Munich; Bayern Munich 5-0 Viktoria Plzen; Viktoria Plzen 0-1 Bayern Munich; CSKA Moscow 1-3 Bayern Munich; Bayern Munich 2-3 Manchester City

Last 16

Arsenal 0-2 Bayern Munich; Bayern Munich 1-1 Arsenal

Quarter-finals

Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich; Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United

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CL top scorers:

Thomas Mueller (5); Arjen Robben (4)

Selection problems:

Thiago Alcantra has been a key player this season, but with Toni Kroos and Javi Martinez champing at the bit, his absence through injury is not as big a blow as it would be for another team.

For a team which scores a lot of goals, they do not have a world-class striker; Mario Mandzukic is a decent target man, but has only scored three goals in Europe this season. That is compensated for by goal-scoring midfielders.

Tournament in a tweet:

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REAL MADRID

Bookmaker odds to win CL: 15/8

How they got there:

Group B (winners): Galatasaray 1-6 Real Madrid; Real Madrid 4-0 FC Copenhagen; Real Madrid 2-1 Juventus; Juventus 2-2 Real Madrid; Real Madrid 4-1 Galatasaray; FC Copenhagen 0-2 Real Madrid

Last 16: Schalke 1-6 Real Madrid; Real Madrid 3-1 Schalke

Quarter-finals: Real Madrid 3-0 Borussia Dortmund; Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Real Madrid

CL top scorers:

Cristiano Ronaldo (14); Gareth Bale (5)

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Selection problems:

It would be disingenuous to call Real a one-man team, but the above goals tally shows how reliant they are on Ronaldo. The Portuguese star has a hamstring injury and, while he should be back in time for the semis, he may not be fit.

Gareth Bale has been hit and miss as he beds into a new style of football – and a secondary role to ‘CR7’ – but he will have to step up and show his forward partner’s consistency.

Without Ronaldo, they were well-beaten in their ¼ final second leg – indeed, Dortmund really should have gone through, they were that dominant.

Tournament in a tweet:

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ATLETICO MADRID

Bookmaker odds to win CL: 5/1

How they got there:

Group G (winners): Atletico Madrid 3-1 Zenit St Petersburg; Porto 1-2 Atletico Madrid; Austria Vienna 0-3 Atletico Madrid; Atletico Madrid 4-0 Austria Vienna; Zenit St Petersburg 1-1 Atletico Madrid; Atletico Madrid 2-0 Porto

Last 16: Milan 0-1 Atletico Madrid; Atletico Madrid 4-1 Milan

Quarter-finals: Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid; Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona

CL top scorers:

Diego Costa (7); Raul Garcia (4)

Selection problems:

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Striker Diego Costa has been the stand-out player for Atletico this season, and no more so than in Europe, where he is their top scorer.

His injury is a major worry for Atletico, but they created countless chances in his absence against Barcelona, as Diego Ribas proved he still has what it takes. David Villa, while outshone by Costa this season, is also no slouch and should have had a hat-trick against Barca but for the woodwork.

Atletico’s major concern is that goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois would be ineligible to face parent club Chelsea, should they be drawn against the English side. Atletico must avoid the Blues as, while a decent keeper, Daniel Aranzubia’s best days are behind him.

Tournament in a tweet:

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CHELSEA

Bookmaker odds to win CL: 5/1

How they got there:

Group E (winners): Steaua Bucharest 0-4 Chelsea; Schalke 0-3 Chelsea; Chelsea 1-2 FC Basel; Chelsea 3-0 Schalke; FC Basel 1-0 Chelsea; Chelsea 1-0 Steaua Bucharest

Last 16: Galatasaray 1-1 Chelsea Chelsea; 2-0 Galatasaray

Quarter-finals: PSG 3-1 Chelsea; Chelsea 2-0 PSG

CL top scorers:

Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o, Demba Ba (all 3)

Selection problems:

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Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his displeasure with the club’s striking options. It seems a tad unfair as, despite not being fully trusted, Torres and Ba have scored as many goals as his favoured option, Samuel Eto’o.

There is a minor injury doubt over Eden Hazard, but he is expected to be fit. Mohamed Salah, who enjoys the big matches and scored five goals in the group stage for Basel, is cup-tied.

Tournament in a tweet:

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