Champions soccer starts semifinals

Apr 22, 2008 7:44 PM

by Mark Mayer | It’s Barcelona against the English Premier League as the Champions Soccer semifinals begins two days of play today. In Tuesday’s matchup, Chelsea visits Liverpool (11:45 a.m. ESPN2). On Wednesday, favorite Manchester United visits Spain to take on Barcelona (11:45 a.m. PT, ESPN2). The rematch for each semifinal is next Tuesday and Wednesday at Chelsea and Manchester respectively.

The latest Caesars Palace odds have Manchester United a 6-5 favorite to win the Euro Cup. Barcelona and Chelsea are each 5-2, while Liverpool is 7-2. However, Liverpool is a +130 favorite in its home match with Chelsea (+200). The price is +220 for a draw. Barcelona is +140 in its home test with Man U (+180). The draw is +210.

Chelsea is in a double revenge mode, having been eliminated in the semifinals by Liverpool last year and in 2005. Liverpool star Steven Gerrard (neck injury) has been cleared to play against Chelsea.

Barcelona has won just four of its last 13 competitive matchups. Another obstacle the status of Lionel Messi, limited to just two substitute appearances due to a hamstring injury. Manchester United, considered the New York Yankees of soccer, is arguably world’s most popular team with over 330 million supporters worldwide. Brazilian standout Renaldo paces Man U with 29 goals in the Premier League.