For the third season running, the Champions League semifinals will feature three of Europe’s true heavyweight clubs and one outsider looking to surpass expectations. This time around, holders Real Madrid, 2013 winners Barcelona and 2011 European champions Barcelona are joined by Italian title holders Juventus. All four will discover their fate when the semifinal draw is made on Friday ahead of the two-legged matchups to be played over May 5, May 6 and May 12, 13.
Real Madrid reached the last four the fifth successive season after edging out Atlético Madrid in a repeat of last year’s final. After close to 180 minutes of stalemate, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández’s late goal at the Bernabeu gave Carlo Ancelotti’s side a 1-0 win on aggregate and kept them on course to become their first team to win back-to-back Champions Leagues.
In just one of many intriguing potential matchups, there is now the possibility that they could face a two-legged semifinal against their Clasico rivals Barcelona. Despite coming up against the fantastically financed Paris Saint-Germain, the Catalans had the simplest time of all the quarterfinalists. Brilliant attacking trio Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all starred in a 5-1 aggregate win over the French champions. After the disappointment of last season’s quarterfinal exit to Atlético Madrid, Barcelona have now booked a seventh semifinal appearance in eight seasons. And, arguably playing at a higher level than at any stage since Pep Guardiola left the club in 2012, Luis Enrique’s side are looking good for a fourth Champions League win in 10 seasons.
Standing in their way, though, could be a potentially mouthwatering clash with the side now coached by Guardiola. Runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich appeared out for the count after a 3-1 first-leg defeat to Porto in the quarterfinals amid a flurry of injuries. But the mood around the Allianz Arena has been dramatically transformed. Bayern blasted the Portuguese champions 6-1 in the return in Munich and they now have a chance of getting Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger back available for their fourth straight semifinal appearance.
Taking the underdog role filled by Atlético Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in the past two seasons is Juventus. While they have plenty of historical pedigree in the competition, the Italian champions are in their first semifinal in 12 years and have just the ninth highest turnover of European clubs. It has been a long road back for the two-time European Cup winners after losing the 2003 final to AC Milan.
The 2006 Calciopoli scandal dented their reputation and led to their relegation from Serie A. While they returned to the top in Italy, winning three straight championships under Antonio Conte, it is former Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri who has led them back to Europe’s elite in his first season in charge. Having edged past Monaco 1-0 on aggregate, Juventus will now have to prove themselves against one of Europe’s giants in order to replicate Atlético and Dortmund in reaching the final.
Semifinal draw time: 6 a.m. ET
TV channel: Fox Sports 1
Live stream: UEFA.com