UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League - Quarter Final Draw

UEFA Champions League semifinal draw: European giants clash in final four


The draw for the UEFA Champions League semifinal was made in Switzerland on Friday, as Premier League side Chelsea managed to dodge two of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Jose Mourinho’s men will face current La Liga leaders, Atletico Madrid, as the Blues will fancy their chances of making the final in Lisbon on May 24.

In the other semifinal tie, a mouth-watering clash awaits between two of European soccer’s heavyweights as Real Madrid square off against reigning champions Bayern Munich.

(MORE: UCL – Your semifinals are set; here are the four survivors)

Chelsea will travel to the Vicente Calderon stadium in the first leg on April 22, to face Diego Simeone’s side who knocked out FC Barcelona at the quarterfinal stage. Diega Costa should be fit after being hit by injury, as the West London club know that as long as they defend well in the first leg, that can bring Atleti back to Stamford Bridge on April 30 with everything to play for. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 15 clashes with Spanish sides in the Champions League, winning six and drawing nine, and have never lost to Atletico in the UCL.

Real Madrid host Bayern at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of the other semifinal on April 22, as Carlo Ancelotti’s superstar side will come up against the favorites Bayern.What a tie that will be, as Cristiano Ronaldo, Franck Ribery, Gareth Bale and Arjen Robben collide again in the second leg at the Allianz Arena on April 29.

Both semifinal matches will be played later this month, as the first legs will be on April 22/23, with the second legs to be played on April 29/30.

Champions League semifinal draw in full

Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich

Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.