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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin - Champions League football still the best

ESPN's Alison Bender previews the Champions League semi-final matches where Liverpool take on AS Roma and Real Madrid face Bayern Munich.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is not worried by Real Madrid's Champions League dominance and believes "the best competition in the world" still offers plenty of excitement.

Real Madrid, in the last four of the competition for the eighth year in a row, on Wednesday face a Bayern Munich side that has reached its seventh Champions League semifinals in the past nine years.

"What most concerns me is to have the best teams in the Champions," Ceferin told Marca. "They [Real Madrid] have been the best in recent years. It's a fantastic side, with experience, and there is no problem that Real Madrid have reached the last eight semifinals. Everyone spoke about Juve's elimination, of the penalty in the last minute It's huge."

Real Madrid, looking to lift a record third straight trophy, eliminated Juventus while Bayern Munich edged Sevilla.

"They are always one of the favourites," Ceferin said of Zinedine Zidane's side. "They are in the semifinals. They have a fantastic team. This season we are seeing surprises and you don't know what can happen but Real Madrid can make history and win a third straight title.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin believes the Champions League is the best football tournament in the world.

"But the competition is there. There are always teams that surprise and reach the semifinal as in this case Liverpool and Roma or Monaco last season. Real Madrid is always there and so is Bayern but other teams also emerge."

Liverpool saw off Manchester City to reach their first Champion League semifinal since 2008 and face Roma, who overturned a 4-1 first leg defeat to progress at Barcelona's expense.

Madrid were awarded a controversial last-gasp penalty which Cristiano Ronaldo converted that gave them a 4-3 aggregate win over Juve and led to calls for Video Assistant Referee (VAR) System to be implemented in the competition.

However, Ceferin says it will take a few more years for VAR System to be used in Europe's elite club competition.

"In this [situation] it would not have changed anything," Ceferin said. "We are not ready. When we are ready, we will use it. It's possible in the 2019-20 campaign.

The VAR is not mastered by referees, players and fans don't understand it.

"We've seen comical situations such as a referee [in the Bundesliga] awarding a penalty at half-time with the players in the changing room and making them return.

"The best competition in the world is the Champions League and we need to test it and ensure that everyone knows how it works. We have to train and once we are ready, we will use it. If everything is not okay, we will not use it. If there are problems regarding its implementation in the [domestic] leagues, you can imagine in Europe."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.


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