UEFA Youth League semi-finalist: Real Madrid
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Beaten in the semi-finals in 2014 and 2016, Real Madrid will be hoping that this season proves a case of third time lucky as they prepare to meet Benfica in the last four.
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Real Madrid have qualified for the semi-finals for the third time in only four seasons of UEFA Youth League competition. In 2014 they were beaten 4-0 by Benfica – their opponents this time – and last year they fell 3-1 to Paris Saint-Germain.
- 2016: Paris condemn Madrid to second semi-final defeat
- 2014: Benfica overpower ten-man Madrid to reach final
Road to Nyon
The Spanish side finished five points clear atop Group F, losing only one game. That solitary setback, 3-1 at home to Borussia Dortmund, came on matchday six when their qualification had long been confirmed.
Trailing 2-0 in Monaco at half-time of their round of 16 tie, Guti's charges fought back to win 4-3, despite having Franchu dismissed late on. Álex Martín's 78th-minute penalty then sealed a 2-1 success over Ajax in the quarter-finals.
A midfielder blessed with flair and technique, Guti came through Madrid's academy before winning five Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League crowns. He returned as a coach in 2013 and took over the Under-19s last summer.
Players to watch
Sergio Díaz: Díaz joined Madrid last summer from Cerro Porteño in his native Paraguay. Capable of playing as a lone striker or on either wing, the 19-year-old has registered four goals and provided as many assists.
Álex Martín: The centre-back is the only ever-present in the Madrid squad, having played all 720 minutes of their campaign to date. His spot kick versus Ajax was his first UEFA Youth League goal.
Dani Gómez: Son of a former Atlético Madrid youth-team forward, Gómez has claimed some crucial goals, despite starting just two matches and playing a combined 282 minutes. His three strikes have come in slender victories – against Legia Warszawa (3-2), Monaco (4-3) and Ajax (2-1).