The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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Updated: Real Madrid get Chelsea, Man City to meet Bayern in Champions League

Friday, 17 March 2023, 12:55 Last update: about 13 months ago

Real Madrid’s path to another Champions League title will have to go through Chelsea in the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

Friday's draw takes Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti back to face his former club, which was eliminated by a goal from Karim Benzema in extra time a year ago.

This time, the first leg between the past two Champions League winners will be in Madrid instead of London — on April 11 or 12.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola also has a reunion with a former club. The English champions were drawn to face Bayern Munich, which has won all eight of its game in the competition this season and will play the first leg away from home.

Bayern twice kept Paris Saint-Germain forwards Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé from scoring in the round of 16. The team will now face the tournament’s leading scorer in Erling Haaland, who had five goals on Tuesday in City’s 7-0 rout of Leipzig.

The winner between City and Bayern will go on to play Madrid or Chelsea in the semifinals. That half of the draw includes four of the top-five teams in the UEFA rankings by results in European competitions over the past five years.

The other half of the draw is dominated by Italian clubs with the possibility of a Milan derby in the semifinals.

AC Milan will first face Napoli, the runaway Serie A leader which is making its debut in the quarterfinals of the Champions League or the old European Cup. The first leg is at San Siro.

Inter Milan will play at Benfica in the first leg, returning to the country where it eliminated Porto in the round of 16.

Inter is playing at this stage of the competition for the first time in 12 years, while Milan is ending an 11-year wait. Inter is ranked No. 12 by UEFA and seven-time European champion Milan is down at No. 36.

Six former champions who have combined for 34 titles in the 68-year history of the competition were in the draw. Only Napoli and Man City have yet to be European champions.

The first legs will be played on April 11 and 12. The return games are scheduled for April 18 and 19.

The semifinal matches will be played between May 9-17 and the final is set for June 10 at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.

In the Europa League quarterfinals, Manchester United will play yet another Spanish club.

Man United, which eliminated Barcelona and Real Betis in the last two rounds, will next face Sevilla — a record six-time champion of the competition.

The winner will face either Juventus or Sporting Lisbon in the semifinals.

The other half of the draw paired Feyenoord and Roma — a rematch of the inaugural Europa Conference League final last year won by the Italian team — and Bayer Leverkusen with Belgian club Union Saint-Gilloise.

The Europa League quarterfinals will be played on April 13 and 20, with the semifinals on May 11 and 18 and the final set for May 31 at the Puskas Arena in Budapest.

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