The draws for the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals were conducted on Friday at Nyon, Switzerland, and defending champions, Chelsea will face Real Madrid again.
This is just as it was last season when the Blues had to go through the 13-time champions to lift the trophy.
The other ties are Manchester City versus Atletico Madrid, Manchester United conquerors; Villarreal against Bayern Munich, and Benfica versus Liverpool.
Chelsea met Real Madrid at the semi-final stage last season and won 3-1 on aggregate and it sees the return of familiar faces. Carlo Ancelotti once coached the Blues to the league title and Eden Hazard, whose career at Madrid has never really gotten off makes a return to Stamford Bridge, almost a year to the day after he was trolled for smiling with former Chelsea mates after Real Madrid had lost 2-0. Chelsea went on to claim their second Champions League title with a 1-0 win over Manchester City.
The first leg is scheduled for April 5 or 6, with the return a week later. Chelsea, because of EU sanctions on the former owner, Roman Abramovich will play all their remaining home ties behind closed doors.
If the defending champions get over Madrid’s challenge; lying in wait in the semifinal will be Pep Guardiola’s City or Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.
Atletico travels to Manchester again after dislodging United 2-1 on aggregate while City will seek to right the wrongs of last year’s close miss.
Villarreal will be tested by six-time winners, Bayern Munich, who have found form in Europe even though their lead in the Bundesliga has been whittled down to four.
The Yellow Submarine are defending Europa League champions and showed in their second leg decimation of Juventus that they can be game to the best in Europe. In Unai Emery, they have an experienced gaffer, who will help his team be ready for the Bayern challenge.
Of all eight quarter-finalists, the three of Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, and Manchester City have yet to win the title.
The semi-final matches were also drawn on Friday:
Manchester City / Atlético vs Chelsea / Real Madrid
Benfica / Liverpool vs Villarreal / Bayern
The semi-final matches are scheduled for April 26 and 27 with the return legs fixed for May 3 and 4. The final will be played at the Stade de France on May 28.
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