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Ahead of the Champions League semi-finals, Willie Duncan analyses the four remaining teams and considers who, if anyone, can stop Pep Guardiola's defending champions

The Uefa Champions League returns next week as four of Europe's best sides compete for a place in next month's final in Germany.
 
The draw for the semi-finals saw defending champions Barcelona and La Liga adversaries Real Madrid kept apart, maintaining the mouth-watering prospect of Barca and Real doing battle at the Allianz Arena on May 19. Bayern Munich and Chelsea, though, will have other ideas.
 
The German giants will look to overcome Jose Mourinho's side to achieve their dream of playing at home in this year's final, a factor that will surely help them should they reach the last hurdle. 

Chelsea, meanwhile, will look to book their place in the final for the first time since 2008 when they were beaten in a penalty shootout by Manchester United.
 
Barcelona are considered favourites to defend their crown with William Hill pricing the Catalan club up as a 5/6 (1.83) chance.

Pep Guardiola's men are deserving of their favourites tag as they look to complete a fourth Champions League success in just seven years, and with their recent domestic form, they're bound to be a popular selection for punters.
 
Real Madrid, of course, will feel that their time has come. Mourinho's side have failed to deliver on Europe's biggest stage in recent seasons but this represents their best opportunity in quite some time to taste European success.

William Hill chalk Madrid up at 5/2 (3.50) to win the competition and Mourinho is aiming to follow up on his 2004 success with Porto and 2010 triumph with Inter to complete a unique hat-trick.
 
Bayern Munich will require little motivation. The prospect of playing at their own stadium in the final  will spur the Germans on even further. With a squad packed with quality like Mario Gomez, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, Jupp Heynckes' men are lively dark horses at 5/1 (6.0) with William Hill which some may feel offers good value against a Madrid side who haven't performed well away from home in recent weeks domestically.
 
Chelsea are outsiders of the final four at 8/1 (9.0) with William Hill and Roberto Di Matteo has done well to guide his side this far, having overcome a 3-1 first leg deficit in the last 16 against Napoli before seeing off Benfica at the quarter-final stage.

That, though, is unlikely to satisfy Roman Abramhovic and Di Matteo will be desperate to win this competition to further strengthen his case to be appointed as Chelsea boss on a permanent basis.

Just four sides remain but, with a proven track record in this competition, Pep Guardiola's Barcelona remain the team to beat once again.

Champions League outright winner (William Hill):

Barcelona 5/6 (1.83)
Real Madrid 5/2 (3.50)
Bayern Munich 5/1 (6.0)
Chelsea 8/1 (9.0)


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Willie Duncan is a freelance sports journalist. Willie, from Edinburgh, has covered Scottish football for over 10 years and he specialises in football betting markets from across Europe. You can also follow Willie on Twitter here.

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