Heavyweights Bayern and Real to light up Europe
In a stellar pairing of clubs who have won Europe's top title 14 times, Real Madrid will play Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals.
"We are the teams who are playing the most attractive football right now," former Bayern and Real Madrid great Paul Breitner said.
Nine-time champions Madrid and five-time winners Bayern have also been runners-up a further eight times, yet never met in the final. Bayern are looking to become the first team in 24 years to recapture Europe's top prize after cruising to the German league title.
"We acknowledge that Bayern Munich, since the beginning of the season, have been amazing," Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno said. "But we are Real Madrid and we compete to win."
Madrid-Bayern is a repeat of the semi-finals two years ago decided by a penalty shoot-out at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after each team won 2-1 at home. Then, Cristiano Ronaldo was among three Madrid players who failed to score from the spot.
The semi-final line-up includes three coaches who each have two Champions League titles with other clubs: Bayern's Pep Guardiola won with Barcelona in 2009 and '11; Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti with Milan in 2003 and '07; Chelsea's Jose Mourinho with FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in '10.
Mourinho could become the first to coach three different clubs to the European title. Guardiola and Ancelotti aim to become the fifth coach to guide two different clubs to the title. Atletico coach Diego Simeone, won a Europa League title with the club in 2012.
Ancelotti also played for AC Milan when they were the last back-to-back champions, winning the European Cup in 1989 and '90.
The Italian coach is seeking to take Real Madrid to their first final in 12 years. Under Mourinho, they lost in the semi-finals for the past three seasons. The return matches will be played on April 29 in Munich and the following night in London. The final is scheduled for May 24 at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon.