Champions League: Real Madrid, Bayern Munich send Premier League powerhouses packing

The Premier League is out of the Champions League. 

Arsenal and 2023 titlist Manchester City, the last two English teams standing in this season’s edition of soccer’s most prestigious club competition, were both eliminated Wednesday in the second leg of the quarterfinals by Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, respectively. Bayern and Real join Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in the semis, ensuring no Prem representative in the June 1 final at Wembley Stadium in London. 

Man City’s Kevin de Bruyne erased his teams 1-0 home deficit Wednesday after Rodrygo had given Real a first half lead. But De Bruyne missed City’s best opportunity to win the match later in the second half, and the trophy holders eventually fell on penalties to the record 14-time European champs. 

In Munich, Arsenal paid the price for failing to win last week’s first leg at home. Joshua Kimmich scored for Bayern just past the hour mark, the only goal the hosts would need to beat the Gunners on the night and 3-2 on aggregate. 

Here are three quick thoughts on Wednesday’s matches and what lies ahead in the final four and beyond. 

Real Madrid’s early strike costs Manchester City 

Tied on aggregate and with decisive second match of the series in Manchester, the Sky Blues had to like their chances of advancing — even against the most decorated club in competition history. But Pep Guardiola’s side sure wasn’t planning to go down a goal after just 11 minutes. Rodrygo’s strike, his second on the same sequence after the Brazilian winger’s initial effort had been stopped by national team colleague Ederson, changed everything. 

The hosts exerted enormous energy trying to find the leveler. And though they eventually got it, the effort took a lot out of them. Perhaps if Erling Haaland’s first half header had gone in rather that rattle off the crossbar, City would’ve regrouped and gotten another. Instead, De Bruyne’s miss was as close as they came until the shootout. 

Even Ederson’s save on Luka Modrić wasn’t enough in the tiebreaker, as Real backstop Andriy Lunin stopped City’s duo Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovačić to extinguish the hosts’ hopes of a repeat. It’s a bitter defeat for Guardiola’s all-world squad, which now must console itself by trying to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Premier League title instead. 

Home field advantage boosts Bayern past Arsenal 

Last week’s 2-2 stalemate at the Emirates Stadium in North London could’ve been worse for the Gunners, who had to rally just to earn a draw after squandering an early lead. But despite the impressive comeback, it wasn’t one of those ties that felt like a win — not with the decisive match looming in Germany and Bayern, whatever the cause of their struggles in the Bundesliga this season, boasting one of the most talented, most expensive and deepest squads in the global game. 

Sure enough, Arsenal’s missed opportunity proved too much to overcome. After a cagey, mostly uneventful first half during which both teams seemed to be trying not to commit a potentially fatal mistake rather than go for the winner, Bayern turned it on after the break. The home side finished the match with almost twice as many shots as the visitors, had more passes, more completed passes, more possession and, of course, the stat that matters most: Kimmich’s goal, which came off a blistering header: 

So it’s hard to argue that the Gunners deserved to move on. The only surprise, if there was one, that the winning tally wasn’t provided by Harry Kane. No matter. Kane left Tottenham last August to chase a Champions League crown. Beating Real over two games won’t be easy, of course. But if Bayern can manage it, the England captain will get to go for European glory back the very city he called home for so long. 

Two marquee semifinals on tap 

There is no shortage of storylines or star power in the semis, even with no English representation in the final four. Real Madrid is looking to add a 15th crown, which would be more than twice as many as the next most successful club. Bayern and its embattled coach Thomas Tuchel view the Champions League as a chance at redemption after seeing Bundesliga rival Bayer Leverkusen snap their 11-year stranglehold on the German top flight with a month of the domestic campaign left. Bayern and Real, who have met more often in the Champions League than any other foes, will face off for a spot in the grand finale. 

The other side of the bracket features Kylian Mbappe, surely now the world’s best player, trying to lead his hometown team to its first European title before he leaves the club. With that departure expected to happen this summer, what a legacy-padding story that would be for the 2018 World Cup winner. 

PSG will have to get past Dortmund first. A BVB upset would pit the Black and Yellow against either chief nemesis Bayern Munich or Real, which is led by English star and former Dortmund talisman Jude Bellingham. While the Prem  won’t have a finalist this year for the first time since 2020, fans at Wembley will get to cheer on one of England’s best two players whatever the title matchup turns out to be.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United Statesmen’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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