Nyon in Switzerland hosted the draw for the Champions League semi-finals earlier on Friday. With two teams apiece from Germany and Spain, the purists’ prayers were answered with two mouth-watering Germany versus Spain clashes.
Whilst Barcelona have been hit and miss this season, a wounded Lionel Messi came off the bench to help his team mates scrape past the brave efforts of Paris Saint-Germain on away goals. A thwarted Zlatan Ibrahimovic must now wait until next season to see if he can add the grandest European trophy to his already illustrious repertoire. Barca will face recently crowned German champions Bayern Munich, who brushed aside Italian champions-elect Juventus, 4-0 on aggregate. The Germans were at their formidable best in Turin and the Catalans will no doubt have to improve if they are to proceed to Wembley.
The other semi-final sees Europe’s most in-demand coaches go head to head as Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid face Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund. Whilst Mourinho needs very little introduction, speculation is rife that this season is the last for the self-announced ‘Special One’ in the Spanish capital. Should he capture the Champions League title, he would become the first manager to win three Champions League / European Cup titles with as many different clubs. During the week, Real made life difficult for themselves in Istanbul. Knowing that Galatasaray needed to win 3-0 to force extra-time, even coolness personified Mourinho looked bewildered as Sneijder and Drogba both found the net midway through the second half resulting in a 3-1 lead for the Turks. Rather than face the wrath of the Portuguese, (which they probably did anyway) Real held firm to reach the semi-finals for the 24th time in their history.
Meanwhile, 2,000 km’s west of Istanbul, Dortmund, fresh from relinquishing their domestic title to Bayern over the weekend, left it late in their quarter-final to beat Malaga in Germany. Seemingly down and out, the Germans demonstrated their renowned never-say-die attitude scoring twice in injury-time to edge out the Champions League debutants. Following the appointment of Klopp (aka the honey monster) in 2008, Dortmund has returned to prominence with two recent back to back Bundesliga titles after a period in the German wilderness. Whilst Dortmund enjoy huge exposure domestically, the likes of Robert Lewandowski will relish facing Real Madrid, which may instigate a big money summer transfer.
The first legs take place in Germany on 23rd / 24th April with the return legs one week later in Spain.
Bayern Munich vs Barcelona
Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid
The Champions League Final will be held in Wembley on 25th May.