The Champions League semi-finals start with Real Madrid facing Bayern Munich; Rose Lavelle returns for Gotham

Happy UEFA Champions League semi-final week! As the final four teams in the competition make their final preparations for this week's big games, this is far from the only big story in the crowded football landscape. I'm Pardeep Cattry with an update to start your week in style.

📺 Foot correction

Always US/East

Monday April 29
🇪🇸 La Liga: Barcelona vs. Valencia, 3 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+

Tuesday April 30
🇪🇺 UCL: Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid, 3 p.m. ➡️CBS, Biggest+
🌍 CCC: Pachuca vs. America, 9:15 PM ➡️ FS1

⚽ The forward line

🔴 All or nothing for Bayern Munich

Getty Images

The Champions League semi-finals get off to a banging start on Tuesday as Bayern Munich host new tournament favorites Real Madrid, who have somehow jumped over every hurdle they have faced this season, including the Manchester City team they ousted in the quarter-finals.

Given Real Madrid's near-unstoppable form domestically and continentally and Bayern's disappointing performances this season, some might argue that victory for the future La Liga champions is a foregone conclusion. But as Raphael Honigstein points out, Bayern program their seasons around Champions League success and the chance to end an otherwise forgettable season with the biggest trophy available to them could be an incredibly tempting opportunity.

  • Honigstein: “The fact that they have no other domestic trophies to show for this year has only made the Champions League bigger, but the Champions League is big enough in itself. It is the trophy that sets Bayern on fire.” [up], the only match that is really at the top of their agenda. They build a team every year to win the Champions League, not to win the Bundesliga, because again that is seen as a given, a natural course of events. The fact that Leverkusen took away their crown has clearly pushed Bayern, I think, to focus even more on the Champions League and I think it's a good thing in the long run because we saw Bayern when the [Borussia] Jürgen Klopp's Dortmund suddenly stood up and provided a real challenge.”

Bayern can likely lean on Harry Kane to do some of the heavy lifting during his impressive first season at the club, which saw him score 42 goals in 42 games. It may also require some defensive resolve akin to their second-leg quarter-final victory over Arsenal, although a match against Real Madrid's star-studded attack will be a very different task. That's especially the case when you consider that Bayern's weakness has been their defense all season long. In the Bundesliga this season they have already equaled the 38 goals they scored a year ago with three games to go, while in the Champions League they have nine goals in seven games.

While Real Madrid have their own point to prove, the pressure to perform in this tie is likely to be on Bayern in what could be a pair of season-defining games.

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🔗 Link play in midfield

🌹 Welcome back, Rose Lavelle

USATSI

NJ/NY Gotham FC's superteam era may be on pause as they deal with injuries, but the reigning NWSL champions got a big boost on Sunday when Rose Lavelle made her long-awaited debut for the club, scoring the final equalizer in their contest. 1-1 draw against Racing Louisville.

The midfielder has been on the sidelines since the US women's team won the Concacaf W Gold Cup in March with a lower leg injury and was on a 15-minute limit for her first game, but the promise she brings as one of the most exciting attacking players midfielders. Only two offensive players from either team had more touches than her with 16, while only one improved her 11 passes during that stretch. She also led the players in shots with three while coming on as a substitute, including the equalizer in the 97th minute.

Lavelle said after the game that she felt “a little rusty” but was happy to finally be on the field with her new team.

  • Lavelle: “It's been fun. It's a fun group to play with, a lot of very technical players, so I think we can find a lot of fun on the ball, which is nice. I think obviously we hope to be a bit more clinical in the last third part, finish chances, get more chances, create more chances, but it was a fun game to start and it's a really fun group to be a part of and play with.”

Her attacking prowess is much needed at Gotham, which ranks at the bottom of the NWSL in goals scored with just three in five games and is among the league's bottom five in shots, shots on goal and expected goals. The team opted not to sound the alarm on Sunday at this early stage of the season, with Lynn Williams instead highlighting the progress they had already made in 2024. They took 19 shots against Louisville, more than in any other game this season. but only put four on target, posting their lowest shots on target percentage since a loss at the North Carolina Courage in which they failed to frame any of their fifteen attempts.

  • Williams: “I think if you look at the last few games versus this game, we're going in and around the box and it's about finding those opportunities, being patient and then finding the window. Before we didn't get any chances and now it's this game, we get shots. It's just when we take them… Speaking for myself, some of my shots were crazy or there was just no power behind them, so at least we find that moment, so I think it's just down to it. building up is the most difficult thing to do.”

Lavelle now has the chance to do something she couldn't do last year during the Women's World Cup: build up some real fitness ahead of the Olympic Games. Gotham has 11 games remaining until the NWSL takes a break for the Paris Games, which provides enough time for the team to get it back into the mix early in the season. Lavelle is still likely a favorite to be named to the USWNT Olympic squad, but will face plenty of competition in that attacking midfield position with an 18-man squad. The versatile Jaedyn Shaw excelled with a 10 at this month's SheBelieves Cup, while Catarina Macario is now getting consistent minutes after a nearly two-year absence with an ACL injury.

Long story short, the consistently highly competitive race to compete for the USWNT just got a little tougher on Sunday night.

🔗 Top stories

���� Premier League title race: Manchester City and Arsenal remained close but held serve in the race to win the Premier League, while Liverpool suffered another setback saw a feud play out in public.

🇫🇷 PSG at the top: Paris Saint-Germain won Ligue 1 for the twelfth time this weekend, which was a record important achievement for Luis Enrique in his first season as manager.

🔴 Lock is on its way: With Arne Slot moving closer to being named Jurgen Klopp's successor at Liverpool, here's what you need to know about the manager as he caps an impressive spell at Feyenoord.

🇺🇸 NWSL power rankings: The Portland Thorns rise in the latest edition of the NWSL power rankings, while North Carolina Courage holds onto the top spot.

🦩 Messi does it again: Lionel Messi scored in Inter Miami's 4–1 victory over the New England Revolution, becoming the first MLS player to score multiple goals in five straight matches.

🇪🇺 UWCL red card: Rules analyst Christina Unkel explains controversial red card for Chelsea's Kadeisha Buchanan during the team's 2–0 loss to Barcelona in the UWCL semi-finals.

💰The Back Line

💵 Best bets

  • UEFA Champions League: Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid, Tuesday, 3 p.m
    💰 THE CHOICE: Harry Kane scores (+150)
    — Things have only gone well selectively for Bayern this season, but there is one thing they have been able to consistently count on all season: a goal (or several) from Harry Kane. He scored 42 goals in 42 games during his first season in Munich and so even if things go poorly for them on Tuesday, he should be good for at least one goal despite their problems.
  • UEFA Champions League: finalists
  • 💰 THE PICK: Bayern Munich reaches the final (+130) — The fact that Real Madrid are the big favorites in this semi-final comes as no surprise, but Bayern has some tools to demonstrate in this tie. Kane is clearly the team's biggest selling point, but their win over Arsenal in the quarter-finals showed they have defensive resolve, even if they have been reluctant to show it this season. It could be enough to get angry about an imperfect Real Madrid, or at least enough for a friendly bet.

📺 What's on CBS Sports Golazo Network

☀️ Morning Footy (Weekdays 8-10am): Hosts Susannah Collins, Charlie Davies, Nico Cantor and Alexis Guerreros help fans get their day started on the network's flagship morning show with highlights, interviews and the biggest football storylines. Morning Footy is also available in podcast formso you never miss an episode again.

📦 Box 2 Box (Weekday Afternoons): The news-driven show quickly recaps the latest headlines from around the world, with panelists previewing the day's top matchups. Catch Box 2 Box on CBS Sports Golazo Network on the CBS Sports App, PlutoTV and Paramount+.

3️⃣ Attacking third (Monday, Thursday): The leading ladies football podcast And social brand is now a live studio show. The NWSL season is back and our coverage of the women's game is stronger than ever. Our analysts will analyze the USWNT, NWSL and European domestic seasons throughout the year.

👟 Kick it (Tuesday): Golazo Network's CBS Sports unfiltered interview show appears on Tuesday. Hosted by Kate Abdo, Clint Dempsey, Mo Edu and Charlie Davies, the group candidly chats with the biggest names in the Beautiful Game and shares their stories, both on and off the pitch.

Call it whatever you want (Monday evening): A weekly podcast with Jimmy Conrad, Jesse Marsch and Charlie Davies cover all things USMNT and the state of the beautiful game in the United States.

🥅 Scoreline (Daily): Scoreline is the latest place for fans to stay up to date with the biggest news and results impacting global football, match highlights from football's top competitions and all the unmissable goals from the day's action, which takes place on Thursday starts and is broadcast for seven days a week.

📺 How to watch: CBS Sports Golazo Network is a free 24/7 channel solely focused on providing unparalleled coverage of all the top football leagues worldwide. You can stream for free on the CBS Sports App, Pluto TV And Biggest+.

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