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Premier League, La Liga Clubs to Face Off in Champions League Semifinals

Nine of the last 11 Champions League titles have gone to clubs from either England or Spain. And after an eventful quarterfinal, this season’s edition is guaranteed to see that figure jump to 10 in 12.

If one were to guess before the season which two Premier League clubs and two La Liga teams would make up the four Champions League semifinalists, Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid would appear on most lists. But the stunning appearance of Villarreal adds an underdog story to the mix.

While all three European powers have made the Champions League semifinals over the past three seasons, Unai Emery’s Villarreal will be making its first semifinal appearance since 2005–06, when it lost to Arsenal on a 1–0 aggregate. The Yellow Submarine will face 2018–19 champion Liverpool, while Man City will face Real Madrid. 

The first legs of the semifinals are set for April 26 and 27 with the second legs coming a week later on May 3-4. The winners will head to the final in Paris on May 28. It’s the third time—all since 2013—that the two semifinals will feature the same country vs. country matchups.

Liverpool and Villarreal have only faced off twice before in their respective club histories, which came in the 2015–16 Europa League semifinals. In Jürgen Klopp’s first full season at Anfield, Liverpool turned around a 1–0 deficit from the first leg to with a 3–0 win in the second leg, which saw the club advance to the Europa League final—where it lost to Emery’s Sevilla.

Villarreal will surely not be intimidated by Liverpool’s presence after a giant-slaying campaign in which it has taken down Juventus and Bayern Munich in the knockout stage. Liverpool is coming off a 6–4 aggregate win over Benfica and seems to have endured the easiest route to the semifinals of the remaining teams. 

Manchester City and Real Madrid have met six times in the Champions League and share a 2–2–2 record, with all games coming since 2012. Their most recent meeting came in the pandemic-delayed 2019–20 campaign, when City eliminated Real from the round of 16 on a 4–2 aggregate. 

However, their highest-profile showdown came in the 2015–16 semifinals when Real advanced on a 1–0 scoreline before winning the first of three straight European titles under Zinedine Zidane. While City is still searching for its first Champions League title after outlasting Atlético in the quarterfinals, Real Madrid will be seeking a record 14th trophy. And if it goes through PSG, defending champion Chelsea and Man City to get to the final and have that chance, it will be well-deserved. 

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