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Champions League semi-finals

Bayern v Atlético!

In their latest quest for Champions League glory Bayern face a tough but thrilling challenge in this season’s semi-finals after Pep Guardiola’s men were drawn to play Spanish giants Atlético Madrid. The team currently lying second in La Liga eliminated holders Barcelona 3-1 on aggregate at the quarter-final stage. Unlike that round, the Reds were handed the slight advantage of playing the decisive semi-final second leg at their home Allianz Arena on Tuesday 3 May, with the first leg at the legendary Vicente Calderón Stadium on Wednesday 27 April.

Despite Bayern’s long history of European competition, the Bavarians have only crossed swords with Atlético once, although the clash was certainly historic. The teams met in Brussels to contest the European Cup final in May 1974, where Katsche Schwarzenbeck salvaged a 1-1 draw for FCB with a powerful long-range drive just a minute from the end of extra-time. Penalty shootouts had yet to be introduced so the game went to a replay at the same venue two days later. FCB won 4-0 and hoisted Europe’s top club trophy for the first time.

Renaissance under Simeone

Atlético reached the Champions League final two years ago but lost 4-1 after extra-time to fierce local rivals Real Madrid. However, Los Rojiblancos (the red and whites) are still one of Spain’s most successful clubs with ten championship titles and ten domestic cup triumphs, most recently in 2014 and 2013 respectively. The men from the Spanish capital also won the Europa League (2010, 2012), the European Cup Winners’ Cup (1962) and the 1974 Intercontinental Cup.

Coach Diego Simeone has masterminded Atlético’s renaissance in recent years. The Argentine took over in Madrid in 2011, forming a combative team spearheaded by Antoine Griezmann, who has 20 goals this season, and captain Gabi. Defence is the Spaniards’ specialty: they have conceded a mere 16 goals in 32 league games, and only five in ten Champions League matches.

In the La Liga standings Atlético lie just three points off leaders Barcelona and a point ahead of third-placed Real. Los Rojiblancos beat PSV Eindhoven on penalties in the Champions League last sixteen after goalless draws at home and away, before easing past Barça in the quarters.

Ties drawn by Stanković

Friday’s draw at the Swiss headquarters of European football’s governing body in Nyon was presented by UEFA chief of communications Pedro Pinto and conducted by UEFA director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti, assisted by 2010 Champions League winner Dejan Stanković. In the second semi-final, Manchester City are at home to Real in the first leg. This year’s final takes place at the San Siro in Milan on 28 May, where FCB would nominally be the away team should they overcome Atlético.

Champions League 2015/16 semi-final draw:
Manchester City v Real Madrid
Atlético Madrid v Bayern Munich
(To be played 26/27 April and 3/4 May)