Chivas sounds off on Europe's top tourney

Champions League drama has Red-and-White captivated

Champions League

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

And then there were four.

This week saw four of the biggest
clubs in Europe move on into the semifinal stage of the UEFA Champions
League, while four others were sent home for the year.

Barcelona, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Lyon remain in the hunt for
the trophy, while Arsenal, CSKA Moscow, Manchester United, and Bordeaux
will have to wait for next year for a shot at glory.

The
Champions League is arguably the world’s most prestigious club soccer
tournament, with the best sides from Europe competing for the
championship each year. Even just playing in the tournament is an honor
for any player, and the excitement was certainly not lost on Chivas
USA.

“In club soccer, the Champions League is the most
important thing,” said Ante Jazic, who played in the qualifying stages
of the Champions League with Austrian side Rapid Vienna. “It’s the
Mecca of all club soccer competition in the world.”

The first
semifinal features reigning world champion Barcelona against Italy’s
top side Inter Milan. Barcelona will surely be the favorites after
brutalizing Arsenal in the quarterfinal stage.

“I’ve said it
from the beginning that I think Barcelona will take it again,” Jonathan
Bornstein said. “They’re just so dynamic and Lionel Messi has been
playing incredibly. I think he’s one of the best players in the world
right now, if not the best. They dominate every game they play.”

Inter Milan are no slouches, however, having won Europe's top honor twice.

“Barcelona has been playing really well, but it won’t be easy to get
past Inter,” Maykel Galindo said. “They’re a strong team.”

On
the other side of the bracket are Bayern Munich and Lyon. Munich will
be the heavy favorite after knocking off Manchester United in the
quarterfinals.

“Bayern has been against the wall a few times,
and they have won some big games,” said Chivas USA Head Coach Martín
Vásquez, who served as assistant coach in Munich last year. “I think
the way it’s going, maybe it will be Bayern against Barcelona in the
final.”

Lyon will certainly be the underdog, but at this level, anybody could take home the trophy.

“At this point, any one of the teams could take it him,” Galindo said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

The Champions League semifinals will be contested in late April, with
the final match coming on May 22 at the 80,000-seat Santiago Bernabéu
Stadium in Madrid, Spain.