MADRID – The Anfield and Johan Cruyff stadiums are the last stops of the UEFA Champions League ahead of the June 1 final at Atletico Madrid’s home-pitch, the Wanda Metropolitano.
After their semifinal first-leg victories, FC Barcelona and Ajax are edging closer to the final of Europe’s elite club competition.
Barça inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal tie at the Camp Nou, taking a giant step toward reaching the final for the first time since they last hoisted their fifth Champions League trophy in 2015.
Ajax, which has been a Champions League sensation this season, defeated Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 in London, bidding to finish the job against Spurs in the second leg of their semifinal tie in Amsterdam.
The Catalan side’s coach Ernesto Valverde seems to have learned from his last season’s experience when Barcelona was knocked out by Roma in the quarterfinals having won the first leg 4-1 but were defeated 3-0 in the Italian capital.
The setback in the second leg of the 2017-18 quarterfinals is the Catalans’ only defeat in their last 22 Champions League games.
Barcelona is aiming to win the treble this year, after clinching the La Liga title last week with two matches to go and is also one step away from the Copa del Rey trophy.
Meanwhile, Liverpool will need some magic at Anfield for a chance at victory in the Champions League a year after losing in the final to Real Madrid.
The Reds are vying for their second consecutive final, with Brazil forward Roberto Firmino, who barely played against Barcelona, remaining a doubt due to a muscular problem.
The other semifinal will be settled at the Johan Cruyff Arena. The goal Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek scored against Tottenham has given the Dutch side a push.
Ajax has dominated the European continent in the 1970s, and is seeking its fifth trophy of the elite club championships, following its previous titles in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1995.
Tottenham, which has never been in a CL final, is cursed by various injuries, especially to star forward Harry Kane.