The Bayern Munich manager, Pep Guardiola, will return to face his former club Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final. Real Madrid will face Juventus in the other semi-final in a draw which today.
The first legs will be played on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 May, with the return legs on Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 May. The final will take place at Berlin’s Olympiastadion on Saturday 6 June. The draw leaves open the possibility of a first Barcelona v Real Madrid final.
Guardiola, who managed Barcelona from 2008-12, will make his return with former Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcântara in his Bayern squad and described the chance to return “home” as special.
“Everyone understands how special this game is for me, for Thiago and my staff,” said Guardiola. “Barcelona was our life. When you are in a semi-final then you will always face a big team. What can I say? Barcelona is my home.
“Barcelona are the best team at the moment. I am not surprised. [Barcelona manager Luis Enrique] has a lot of quality. He is a great guy and I am happy I will be facing him. Barcelona have brought in Neymar, [Luis] Suárez. They have a new coach. Other than that they play still the same, with the same mentality.”
Bayern Munich overcame a 3-1 first-leg deficit to book their place in the semi-final draw by thrashing Porto 6-1 at home. Barcelona cruised past PSG in their quarter-final, winning the tie 5-1 on aggregate.
The Bayern-Barcelona match is a repeat of the 2013 semi-final when the German side thrashed the Catalan club 7-0 on aggregate before going on to beat Borussia Dortmund at Wembley to win their fifth European Cup. Barcelona do not have a good record against Bayern, winning only one of their matches in European competition.
“It will be very tough. It would be unfair to say Real or Juve would be easier,” continued Paul Breitner, Bayern’s representative at the draw in Nyon. “On Tuesday we played one of the best halves in the history of the Champions League. We have to do that over the entire two games against Barcelona.”
Bayern’s sporting director, Matthias Sammer, appeared to relish the prospect of facing Barcelona. “I think our chances are 50:50. I’m very much looking forward to it. What’s better in football than playing big games? We will be full of confidence, but will the necessary humility.”
Guardiola is not the only manager making a return to his former club, with Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelloti set to face Juventus, where he was manager from 1999-2001.
Real Madrid overcame their rivals Atlético in the last eight, with Javier Hernández’s goal two minutes from time in the second leg proving decisive. Having beaten Atlético Madrid in last year’s final, semi-finalists Real are attempting to become the first club to retain the Champions League. This is the fifth consecutive year Real have reached the semi-finals.
Juventus are making their first appearance in the semi-finals for 12 years following their narrow victory over Monaco. It is also the first time a team from Serie A have been involved in this stage of the competition since 2010.
Pavel Nedved was Juventus’ ambassador at the draw. “It will be a wonderful tie against the Champions League holders,” he said. “We’re happy to be here among Europe’s finest. We deserve to be in the semis. We want to give it a good go over the two legs and it will be a great game for all the fans. I’m convinced we’ll put in two great performances, then we’ll see if that’s enough to keep our run going.”
The Europa League semi-finals draw saw holders Sevilla drawn against Fiorentina, and Napoli set to face Ukrainian side Dnipro. The final will be played in Warsaw on 27 May.