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.