Following Friday's announcement from Nyon, Switzerland, we are now aware of who will be matching up in the semi-final of this season's Champions League.
Pep Guardiola will once again return to the Santiago Bernabeu after the ex-Barcelona boss saw Bayern Munich drawn opposite Real Madrid. Meanwhile, the Spanish capital's other bastions, Atletico Madrid, will come up against English hopefuls Chelsea.
With less than a fortnight until the two-legged matchups take centre stage, read on for a prediction of how each fixture will play out in the hope that we might determine the setup of this term's final.
|Fixture||1st-Leg Prediction||2nd-Leg Prediction||Aggregate Prediction|
|Real Madrid vs. Bayern||2-2 Draw||3-1 Bayern Munich||5-3 Bayern Munich|
|Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea||2-0 Atletico Madrid||1-1 Draw||3-1 Atletico Madrid|
Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich
Between them, Real Madrid (nine) and Bayern Munich (five) hold a magnificent 14 European Cup and Champions League titles, signifying just what kind of weight these two throw around on the continental scale.
As quoted by the club's official Twitter account, Real manager Carlo Ancelotti is fully aware of the threat reigning champions Bayern pose, but he is confident in his team's ability:
In a way, Der FCB and Los Merengues are outfits of completely different proportions right now.
Whereas Real are a team who rely largely on individual talents and boast the competition's leading goalscorer in Cristiano Ronaldo (14), Bayern are a deep and well-stocked squad whose top scorer this Champions League season, Thomas Mueller, is merely joint-seventh in the rankings.
As OptaJose points out, Bayern hold a historical advantage over their upcoming opponents:
1 - Real Madrid have only knocked out Bayern once in their five Champions League semi-finals against them. Hard— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 11, 2014
1 - The last time Real Madrid defeated Bayern in the Champions League semi-finals (2000), they won the title. History— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 11, 2014
For all of the attacking might these two sides display, it will be the defences that tell this tale.
Bayern have the potential to travel to Madrid and limit their hosts, but it's highly unlikely that Ancelotti's back line will be able to do the same in Bavaria.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-5 Bayern Munich (agg.)—Bayern Munich advance
Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea
Another return to Spanish surroundings comes for Jose Mourinho, who, just nine months after leaving Real Madrid's helm, will once again take on their bitter rivals Atletico in the penultimate challenge of this season's Champions League.
Who will advance from this semi-final?
The Blues' second-leg comeback against Paris Saint-Germain at the quarter-final stage was heroic, but Los Rojiblancos have a very prevalent achievement of their own to be proud of in defeating Barcelona over the two legs.
One massive factor in this fixture will be Atleti's use, or lack thereof, of Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois, who are at this point uncertainties for the clash due to injury and questions regarding loan availability, respectively.
BeIN Sport's Tancredi Palmeri quotes Chelsea CEO Ron Gourlay as confirming that Courtois is available to appear against his parent club, however, adding what he thinks the chance of Atleti advancing is without star striker Costa:
JUST IN: Chelsea ceo to @beINSPORTS_EN : "Atletico Madrid can field Courtois"— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) April 11, 2014
Champions percentages Real Madrid 49% - Bayern 51% Atletico 45% - Chelsea 55% (no Diego Costa, 40-60) (no Costa and Courtois 35-65)— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) April 11, 2014
Packed with quality, both sides are difficult to set apart, but again, it's the defensive side of things which will prove most telling here, with Atletico having conceded just 22 goals in league competition this term.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 3-1 Chelsea (agg.)—Atletico Madrid advance