Bayern & Barcelona meet again in the Champions League semi finals

(AFP) – Pep Guardiola will return to face his former club Barcelona after the draw for the Champions League semi-finals on Friday paired the Catalans with Bayern Munich while holders Real Madrid were drawn against Juventus.

Barcelona, who are in the last four for the seventh time in eight seasons, will be at home to the Bundesliga side in the first leg on May 5 or 6 with the return at the Allianz Arena the following week.

Guardiola won the European Cup as a player with Barcelona in 1992 and then won 14 trophies in four seasons as coach, including the Champions League in 2009 and 2011.

He had made way for Tito Vilanova by the time Barca were destroyed 7-0 on aggregate by Bayern in the semi-finals in 2013, when the German giants went on to win the trophy.

Meanwhile, Madrid must go to Italy for the first leg of their tie against Serie A leaders Juventus as they look to become the first club to retain the trophy in the Champions League era.

The tie is a repeat of the 1998 final, which Madrid won 1-0 in Amsterdam, and the Spanish side will be widely fancied to come out on top on this occasion too.

“We will face a legendary club, I think it is good news for football and the Champions League that Juventus have returned to this level and obviously it will be a very even tie,” said former Real player Emilio Butragueno, now the club’s Director of Institutional Relations.

“We faced them last year, they are a very competitive team and hopefully we can recover the injured players to be able to face this tie at our maximum level.”

The 10-time European champions beat city rivals Atletico Madrid in a tense quarter-final despite being without the injured Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, although coach Carlo Ancelotti is confident that at least the latter two will be fit in time for the semi-finals.

Italian Ancelotti played in the last team to win the European Cup in successive seasons, the AC Milan side of 1989 and 1990, and coached Juventus between 1999 and 2001.

Juventus are through to their first Champions League semi-final since losing on penalties to Ancelotti’s Milan in the 2003 final at Old Trafford.

They are therefore the outsiders in the last four, with Barcelona, Bayern and Madrid having racked up 13 semi-final appearances between them in the last six seasons and having won the Champions League four times between them over the same period.

This year’s final will be played in Berlin on Saturday, June 6.

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