Almost twelve months on from an epic all-Spanish clash in the #Champions League final last year, the semi-final draw for this season's competition has raised the possibility of it happening all over again. Spanish #Football seems to be on a high, with three teams making the last-eight this time around and the possibility of Real Madrid facing their arch rivals Barcelona in the final itself. The draw for the semi-finals was made earlier today and it kept the two Spanish giants apart. Instead, Barcelona will face the German champions Bayern Munich over the two-leg semi-final, with Real Madrid meeting Juventus.
The pairing of Pep Guardiola's powerful Bayern side against the Catalans led by the mercurial talent that is Lionel Messi promises a lot. It is perhaps the pick of the two semi-finals and seems too close to call at first glance. Can the combined firepower of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez find a way past the Bundesliga's top side? Against the expensively assembled PSG in the quarter-finals, the resulting tie was effectively settled in the away leg. That classy 3-1 display allowed the Spaniards to cruise through the return leg at Camp Nou.
Bayern look destined to claim the German title again this season, with a commanding 12 point lead over Wolfsburg and just five matches remaining. They had some defensive jitters away to Porto in the last-eight, coming away from Portugal in a seemingly perilous position 3-1 in arrears. Their midweek demolition of the same opponents belied any concerns though, as a first-half battering took the tie away from the Portuguese title contenders. They would surely not be as fortunate against the experience of Barcelona, although the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller could make life uncomfortable for the Spaniards. The timely return of Arjen Robben after an abdominal injury would be a tremendous boost to the German side's hopes.
Real Madrid are looking to retain the trophy they claimed so dramatically last year against Atletico. They have already disposed of their neighbours this time around and will probably fancy their chances against the Italian league leaders, who finished as runners-up to Atletico in the group stages. Carlo Ancelotti will look to have the likes of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema back from injury for the clash, providing #Cristiano Ronaldo with the support he seemed to lack in midweek.
Juventus seem destined to clinch another Serie A title, with Lazio trailing them by a massive 15 points and only seven games of the normal season remaining. It will be Juve's first semi-final in the competition since 2003, as they aim to win European domestic football's top prize for only the third time in the club's history. They will be most neutrals' dark horses for the trophy, but can expect to be resilient at the back with the obduracy of Italian internationals Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci to call on. With Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings in midfield and sharpshooter Carlos Tevez up front, they can't be easily discounted.
A Barcelona versus Real final would be a mouth-watering fixture, especially as the two sides are neck and neck in La Liga at present. Just two points separate them with Barca having the slight advantage as they enter the final run-in.
The semi-final first legs will be played on 5th and 6th May, with the return legs taking place the following week.