Man City vs. Real, Bayern vs. Atletico: A statistical look at UCL semifinals
The Champions League semifinals kick off on Tuesday. Here is a statistical look at both matches this week, complete with Soccer Power Index (SPI) projections:
Manchester City vs. Real Madrid
Manchester City are the lowest rated of the four remaining teams according to SPI, giving Real Madrid their best possible draw for the semifinals. City were hoping to avoid either Real or Bayern, but Madrid were a slightly worse draw in a two-legged semifinal. As a result, Real Madrid are projected to advance to the final 76 percent of the time.
Madrid have created 136 chances from crosses in league play this season, 19 more than any other team in the five major European leagues. Those chances have turned into 33 goals, 14 more than any other team. Real complete 27 percent of their crosses, good for ninth-best in the five major European leagues (best of any non-German team).
Crossing may not prove an effective strategy against Man City for two reasons. If Cristiano Ronaldo misses out through injury, Real will lose their most targeted player on crosses, and Man City allow opponents to complete 19 percent of crosses (league average is 23 percent), eighth-lowest among the 98 teams in the five major European Leagues.
For Man City, the offense runs through Sergio Aguero. The Argentine has 28 goals this season, more than the next two players on City combined. He has struggled in Champions League play this season, however, scoring only twice and putting just six shots on target in seven matches played.
Picking up the slack in Europe has been Raheem Sterling, who has three goals, tied for the team lead, and leads the team in touches, shots and shots on target from inside the attacking penalty area in the competition. Sterling recently returned after missing a month with a groin injury, so whether he can play a full 90 minutes remains to be seen.
Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich
Each team got its middle-of-the-road draw for the semifinals, as Bayern would have been a slightly bigger favourite against Man City and Atletico would have been a slightly bigger underdog against Real Madrid. Despite that, Bayern are sizable favourites in this matchup, moving on to the finals 70 percent of the time.
Bayern Munich have been stellar at both ends of the field this season. In the five major European leagues, Bayern average the second-most shots (18.9) and most shots on goal (7.7) per match, and allow the fewest goals (0.45), shots (6.8) and shots on target (2.3) per match in league play. In attack, a big reason for that is Robert Lewandowski, who leads the Bundesliga in goals (27), shots (145) and shots on goal (67) this season.
This may be the toughest test for Bayern this season, as Atletico have allowed just 26 goals this season in 51 matches in all competitions this season. Atletico's opponents have put just 26 percent of their shots on target, the third-lowest rate in the five major European leagues.
For Atletico, the player to watch in front of the net could be Fernando Torres. The Spanish international has scored in five of his last six games, which equaled his goal total from his first 32 games this season. He's also creating chances for teammates, with 10 in those last six games after having created 13 all season entering that stretch.
Torres' goals have been assisted on by a variety of players this season, but as of late is has been Koke, who has the assist on four of Torres' goals in this five-game stretch. Overall, Koke has 15 assists, more than the next two players on the team combined, and his 105 chances created are 34 more than anyone else in the side.
Title odds: With the draw putting the two highest rated teams in separate matchups, not surprisingly SPI sees them as the favourites to win the title. Bayern Munich have the edge at 43 percent, with Real Madrid at 35 percent. With a slightly easier semifinal, Atletico are third favourites at 15 percent, with Man City fourth at 7 percent.