UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League - Semi Finals Draw

Spain versus Germany in Champions League semi-finals


The prospect of an all-German or all-Spanish Champions League final is alive after today’s semi-final draw pitted Bayern Munich against Barcelona and Real Madrid with Borussia Dortmund.

The games will be played on April 23 and 24, with the return legs a week later.

“I think we will see two very good games, played at the highest possible level,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “Barcelona are the benchmark for me in Europe. They are the best team in Europe at the moment, with fantastic attacking potential.”

Real made it this far with a 5-3 aggregate win over Galatasaray, despite losing 3-2 in the second leg in Istanbul this week. Barcelona needed Lionel Messi’s inspiration off the bench against Paris Saint-Germain as Pedro scored a 71st-minute equalizer that tied the second leg at 1-1 in the Nou Camp, 3-3 on aggregate, and ultimately put the Spanish league leaders through to the last four on away goals.

Bayern had a much less stressful time against Juventus, winning 2-0 in each leg for a 4-0 aggregate triumph. Dortmund, though, staged an incredible comeback in injury time to oust Malaga, 3-2 on the night after a goalless first leg.

You’ll remember that Bayern – already crowned German league champions – lost on penalties to Chelsea in last year’s final in their own stadium. This year’s showpiece is at London’s Wembley Stadium on May 25.

The most recent Champions League final between clubs from the same nation was in 2007-08, when Manchester United topped Chelsea in a shoot-out in Moscow. Prior to that, A.C. Milan beat Juventus, also on penalties, in Manchester in 2002-03. There was an all-Spanish final in 1999-00, when Real Madrid crushed Valencia, 3-0 in Paris. That preceded a pair of Spain-Germany clashes in the next two years, as Bayern beat Valencia on penalties, then Real overcame Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in a match remembered for a stunning goal from Zinedine Zidane.

Underlining the strengths of La Liga and the Bundesliga, each of the past four Champions League finals has had a Spanish or German presence.

Meanwhile, in the Europa League, Chelsea meet Basel and Fenerbahce face off against Benfica. Those semi-finals are on April 25 and May 2.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.

Agent: Liverpool contacted Klopp only after Rodgers firing

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09:  Jurgen Klopp arrives to be unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC at a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.

However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.

“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”

Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”

It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.