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 By Lee Roden

Champions League semifinals rest on four one-on-one battles

Take a By The Numbers look ahead of the Champions League semifinal first legs, as Real Madrid search for consecutive Champions League titles and Bayern Munich aim to continue their dominance at the Camp Nou.

The business end of the Champions League is upon us, and with seven the minimum number of final appearances made by each team in this year's last four, the present semifinals promise to be particularly spectacular.

Real Madrid may be gunning to become the first team to defend the trophy in the Champions League era, but with a win in this competition the one achievement eluding Juventus in their post-Calciopoli scandal resurgence, the will of the Italians shouldn't be underestimated, and neither should...

Real Madrid's big win; Terry's message; credit to Allegri; Bayern concerns

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno believes the pressure is back on Barcelona following Cristiano Ronaldo's thrilling hat trick against a Sevilla side who had not lost at home in 34 matches.

You step on the pitch with the table saying you're five points back. Sure, you have a game in hand, but it happens to be at Sevilla's Sanchez Pizjuan, where you haven't won since 2011 and, in fact, where no visiting team has won in 35 games.

You need to conjure up a result but, at the same time, you're playing your biggest game of the season thus far on Tuesday night in the Champions League, where you're 180 minutes away from the final and the chance to make it two in a row, something nobody has...

 By Nick Miller

Newcastle United imploding into turmoil as they face relegation battle

Newcastle United haven't earned a point in the Premier League since Feb. 28.

Alan Pardew is not a man who generally needs an ego stroke. However, a glance at his record this season will provide one, and even not so much for the points he has gained at Newcastle and Crystal Palace, but for the ones those two clubs have won without him. Or, as the case may be, the points they haven't won.

Before Pardew's arrival, Crystal Palace earned 17 points from 20 games; since then, they have 25 from 15. Newcastle under Pardew gathered 26 points in 19 games, but after his departure they...

 By Andy Mitten

Man United's Champions League place not secure as work starts for 2015-16

ESPN FC's Steve Nicol does not feel Liverpool will catch Manchester United, despite Louis van Gaal's side's poor form of late.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal recognises his side have reached a plateau after losing three league games in a row.

With three games remaining, Manchester United's season still sits on a knife edge between relative success and failure. Unfortunately those three games aren't going to yield any trophies, but the difference between United finishing fourth or fifth will decide how 2014-15 is viewed.

Finish in their current position of fourth and Louis van Gaal will have achieved his target of getting the club back into the Champions League in his first season. Optimism will rise in the close season as new faces are...

Ball boy hit in the face by ball in Norway

Being a ball boy can be quite fun. You get up close to your favourite team; you get to feel like part of the action. But sometimes, you can get too close to it.

In Norway last weekend, Start's 3-1 victory over Tromso saw Gjermund Asen cut inside and shoot. His effort missed the goal, but smacked a poor unsuspecting ball boy right in the face. Hopefully he's fine now, but it just goes to show you that you always have to keep your eye on the ball.

Egyptian side Smouha in the spotlight for CAF Champions League

Smouha have had a tough season, but are hopeful of progress.

Algeria will certainly be pleased with their chances as the CAF Champions League approaches the final group stage. They are the only country in the competition's 51-year history to have three teams qualify for the last eight, which gives the country a massive 37.5 percent chance of winning the trophy.

Algerian loyalties will be divided between ES Setif, the current holders, MC El Eulma and USM Alger. Both ES Setif and MC El Eulma needed penalty shootouts to progress past the Second Round, while...