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UCL, Uefa Champions League 2021, semi final draw, results, talking points, Neymar, Zinedine Zidane, PSG, Real Madrid

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Zinedine Zidane has a shot at winning an incredible fourth Champions League title as a coach after his side showed their dogged side in seeing off Liverpool on Wednesday, while Paris Saint-Germain are confident of making their breakthrough on Europe’s biggest stage following an epic win over Bayern Munich.

Here we look at four things from this season’s Champions League quarter-finals…

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City advance, Liverpool bow out | 01:32

ZIDANE EYEING EURO RECORD

Such was the confident manner in which Real Madrid dealt with Liverpool that Zinedine Zidane has to be favourite to win his fourth Champions League title, which would be a record for a coach.

Zidane is currently tied on three Champions Leagues/European Cups with current Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti and iconic Liverpool manager Bob Paisley, having claimed his hat-trick for Madrid in his first two-and-a-half seasons in a first-team dugout.

His Madrid will be favourites to reach yet another final of the continent’s top competition when they face dark horses Chelsea in the semi-finals and look ready for a 14th elite European crown.

On Wednesday his team were far from the smooth display that picked apart Liverpool in the first leg last week but a combination of brave defending and poor finishing from the Jurgen Klopp’s Reds meant that the Spanish champions were never in danger of being eliminated.

PSG FINALLY READY FOR EUROPEAN GLORY?

Paris Saint-Germain claimed their biggest ever scalp in the Champions League on Tuesday when they squeezed past European champions Bayern on away goals, and last season’s beaten finalists will surely fancy their chances of going one better this year.

“We needed that. We needed to show ourselves that we could beat them, and we did it,” said Neymar, who dazzled in both legs of a captivating tie drawn 3-3 with the Bavarians.

PSG’s frightening pace on the counter-attack has seen them to stunning first-leg away wins at both Barcelona and Bayern in the knockout stages.

The way the team has banded together to see off European royalty in this year’s run suggests Mauricio Pochettino has a real chance of winning the Champions League after missing out with Tottenham in 2019.

Topping the continental pile would be the culmination of a decade’s work by PSG’s mega-rich Qatari owners, who hope to retain their superstar attackers Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

“It is obvious that I feel very comfortable here and at home at Paris Saint-Germain. I feel happier than I did before,” Neymar told Brazilian channel TNT Sports after helping his team to a clash with UAE-owned Manchester City.

Foden long bomb sends City through | 00:42

BELLINGHAM FOLLOWING SANCHO’S PATH

Jude Bellingham announced his arrival on the biggest stage despite Borussia Dortmund being knocked out by Manchester City on Wednesday night.

Aged 17 years and 289 days, Bellingham became the second-youngest scorer in the history of the Champions League knockout stages when he skillfully collected the ball on the edge of the area and curled home a classy strike to level the tie at 2-2 and put the Germans ahead on away goals.

It wasn’t enough to see Dortmund through to a semi-final clash with PSG as Riyad Mahrez’s penalty 10 minutes after the break and a Phil Foden strike ensured passage for Pep Guardiola’s City.

But the England international, who signed for Dortmund from English Championship side Birmingham City for 26 million euros ($30 million) in the summer, followed up on his first Bundesliga goal at the weekend to outshine a below par Erland Braut Haaland.

Bellingham looks to be following the path to stardom laid by Dortmund teammate Jadon Sancho, who was plucked from City’s youth set-up and is now one of Europe’s most sought-after talents.

CHELSEA’S STURDY YOUNG GUNS READY FOR AN UPSET

Thomas Tuchel seemed in a bullish mood after Chelsea dispatched a tough Porto side in the sort of professional manner that belied the youthful nature of his team.

Porto had dumped out Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus in the previous round with dogged defending but over the two legs of the quarter final it was Chelsea who showed the discipline needed to succeed on the European stage.

It was a victory that came from a team featuring Champions League novices Mason Mount, Reece James, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell and Christian Pulisic.

“Mason scored his first goal in the competition in the first leg. When Mbappe scores or (Mohamed) Salah scores or (Karim) Benzema scores, it is their 100th goal or their 50th goal in the competition,” Tuchel said.

“Once you are there you play to reach the final. We need every minute to learn and to grow. You cannot improve without these experiences.”

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Transfer news, rumours, Manchester United, Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Donny van de Beek, Jose Mourinho

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Former Tottenham coach Jose Mourinho could offer an escape route for Manchester United outcast Donny van de Beek, per reports.

Mourinho agreed a three-year contract with Roma on Wednesday and will replace their current boss Paulo Fonseca at the end of this season.

The 58-year-old was ranked among the world’s top managers after winning the Champions League at Porto and Inter Milan, while enjoying domestic glory with Chelsea and Real Madrid.

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Liverpool pip Saints as CL race heats up | 01:29

Mourinho hopes a return to Italy can revive his career in the same way he rejuvenated Inter Milan from 2008 to 2010.

It is not just his career though that could be reinvigorated by the move, with reports suggesting Mourinho is looking to offer van de Beek a lifeline.

Van de Beek has struggled for game time in his first season in England after making the switch from Ajax to Manchester United for £40 million ($A71m).

Calciomercato reports Mourinho will look to convince Van de Beek to make the move with his future at United unclear, stuck behind other first-team regulars.

The Sun though reports that United are adamant Van de Beek will stay put and will push back against approaches from rivals, instead insisting his time will come.

UNITED’S $143M TOP TARGET

Speaking of Manchester United, the Red Devils are reportedly preparing an £80 million ($A143m) bid for Jadon Sancho.

It comes after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was understood to have made the Borussia Dortmund star his top target for the summer.

United were heavily linked to Sancho last summer but could not strike a deal after failing to meet Dortmund’s £100m valuation.

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Chelsea deny City early Premier League | 01:27

The Daily Star though reports that United are “eyeing a big-money swoop” for Sancho as a bid for Erling Haaland would just cost too much.

Sancho told ESPN on Saturday he was not sure what his future looked like amid the interest.

“I don’t know about my future,” he said after a 3-2 loss to RB Leipzig.

“I am very happy here in Dortmund at the moment. I love the club, the fans and the team.

“They gave me my first professional start. The fans motivate and push me to the limit.”

United are reported to be in the race for Haaland alongside Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea, per Sky Sports.

Dortmund though will not sell him for less than £150m ($A267m) even if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.

A source toldSky Sportsthere will be a war if Dortmund finish outside the Champions League places.

NEYMAR EXTENDS WITH PSG

Elsewhere, speculation over Neymar’s future is over after he signed a contract extension that will see him stay at Paris Saint-Germain until the end of the 2024-2025 season.

The Brazil attacker said he had “grown as a person, as a human being” since joining the club in 2017 from Barcelona for 222 million euros ($270 million) in what remains the most expensive transfer in history.

“I’m really pleased to continue my adventure at Paris Saint-Germain,” the 29-year-old said in a club statement after extending his contract until June 30, 2025.

“I’m very happy in Paris, and proud to be part of this squad, to work with these players, a great coach and to be part of the history of this club.

Chelsea deny City early Premier League | 01:27

“I have grown as a person here, as a human being and as a player, too. So I am very happy to extend my contract and I hope to win many more trophies here.”

Neymar has claimed three Ligue 1 titles and two French Cups with PSG, but the major honour that he was bought by the Qatari-owned club to win, the Champions League, continues to prove elusive.

He helped PSG to reach last season’s final where they were beaten by Bayern Munich but the club’s chances of reaching the final again were ended by Manchester City on Tuesday — and Neymar was ineffectual in the 2-0 semi-final second-leg defeat in England.

Aguero’s panenka penalty fail | 00:26

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Ryan Mason speaks out on Tottenham top-four hopes as boss fumes at VAR after Leeds loss

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Ryan Mason fumed at VAR after Tottenham were beaten 3-1 by Leeds, dashing their top-four hopes.

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Jurgen Klopp makes honest Man Utd admission as Liverpool boss sets Champions League task

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits the Reds must win four from four to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

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