This week languagecaster previews the semi-finals of the Champions League and attempts to predict the finalists at Wembley in May. There is a transcript below, while explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the foot of the post, while other key phrases (in blue) also have meanings explained.
The Road To Wembley
With two teams from La Liga and one each from the Premier League and the Bundesliga, the 2011 Champions League semi-final first legs take place next week. Recent winners Barcelona and Manchester United take on two very different opponents: one with the highest pedigree in European football and the other playing in the competition for the very first time. Barca play Real Madrid their arch-rivals for the third and fourth time in only 18 days while the Red Devils face Schalke.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side start as favourites in their game against the Bundesliga team and not just because of their European experience. They currently lead the Premier League and look as if they will win a record-breaking 19th title, while Schalke, the team from Gelsenkirchen on the Ruhr, are languishing in 10th place in the German league and have recently fired their coach Felix Magath.
However, any team that can thrash holders Inter Milan in the previous round should not be taken lightly, especially as they can call on the current German national team goal keeper Manuel Neuer, Peruvian international Jefferson Farfan, young Dutch striker Huntelaar and of course the top goalscorer in Champions League history, former Spanish international Raul. United will also be happy that the return leg will take place at Old Trafford but they will be wary that they have been eliminated by three German clubs in recent knock-out rounds. Bayern Munich defeated them last year in the quarter-final, Dortmund beat them in the semi-final in 1997 while Bayer Leverkusen won at the same stage in 2002. Can Schalke cause an upset? Doubtful. A United victory.
The other semi-final sees Real Madrid and Barcelona continue with their clásico series. Game three sees Madrid host their Catalan counterparts in the first leg and this game is delicately poised. In the league game last week Barcelona thoroughly deserved their away point at the Bernabeu which all but guaranteed them the Spanish title. Of course, any psychological advantage that Barca may have gained from that game was lost when Ronaldo’s headed winner gave the Copa del Rey to Real Madrid for the first time in 18 years earlier in the week. If Madrid were to win – or indeed, even draw – then there will be real pressure on Pep Guardiola’s men in the return leg the following week. Barcelona will win – possibly by the big margin they have been threatening to do – to set up a re-match of the 2009 Champions League final against Manchester United.
first legs: The first of two games played in a knock-out competition
the highest pedigree: A very top level side, one with great tradition.
arch-rivals: Their main rivals
Red Devils: The nickname of Manchester United
are languishing in: Are in 10th place / the team was expected to be higher up the table
thrash: Beat another team easily, win by a big score
will be wary: A little worried
they have been eliminated by: Have been beaten / knocked out by
host: The game will be played in Madrid first
game is delicately poised: It is difficult to predict
the big margin: The large score