The draw for the Champions League semi-finals is complete, and the four remaining teams now know who stands between them and a chance to play for European club football's biggest prize in Lisbon on May 24.
The Times' Oliver Kay reported the outcome:
Champions League semi-final draw: Real Madrid v Bayern. Chelsea to play Atletico, then. Courtois controversy alert. #UCLdraw— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) April 11, 2014
Squawka helpfully provides the dates for each leg:
Dates for your diary: 22nd Apr: Atletico v Chelsea 23rd Apr: R.Madrid v Bayern 29th Apr: Bayern v R.Madrid 30th Apr: Chelsea v Atletico.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 11, 2014
Kay's reference to Atletico Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois alludes to the overwhelming pre-draw chatter about whether the Chelsea-owned player would be eligible to play if the Spanish club drew Jose Mourinho's side.
Initial reports suggested Courtois' contract included a clause which meant Chelsea must receive payment for the Belgian to play against them, as noted by Paddy Power:
Just read that if Atletico draw Chelsea in the semi-finals, they'd have the pay them £3m per game to play Courtois. What a clause that is.— Paddy Power (@paddypower) April 10, 2014
However, The Huffington Post's Samuel Luckhurst confirmed Courtois will play:
Chelsea chief exec Gourlay: 'It's quite simple, Courtois can play against Chelsea. That was never in doubt.'— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) April 11, 2014
And despite all the controversy, BT Sport's Ian Darke reckons Chelsea have got the draw they would have wanted, while predicting a Bayern win in the other tie:
Obviously tough game but CL semi draw against Atletico is probably the one Chelsea hoped for. Doubt Real defence will cope with Bayern.— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) April 11, 2014
Commentator Jonathan Legard notes that Jose Mourinho will come up against a few old foes if Chelsea can make it to the final:
Perfect CL draw for Mourinho. Beat one Madrid team in the semi, then Real in Lisbon final. And if it's Bayern, then beat Pep instead— Jonathan Legard (@legardj) April 11, 2014
Meanwhile, the folks at ESPN FC have a nice precedent for Diego Simeone's side:
Opta notes that Real will continue their very German-heavy campaign through the knockout rounds:
1 - This will be the first time for Real Madrid to meet three German sides in a row in their road to the #UCL Final. Curve— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 11, 2014
Former Real superstar Luis Figo was involved in making the draw in Switzerland and, as pointed out by 102 Great Goals, did not seem too impressed when his old club drew the defending champions:
Figo's face when Real Madrid drew Bayern Munich was priceless! pic.twitter.com/pY0NMqPgAx— 102 Great Goals (@102greatgoals) April 11, 2014
But he can take solace in these statistics provided by Opta:
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
However, Goal UK makes Bayern the favourites to win the tournament overall and be the first team to retain the Champions League:
Looking ahead, Chelsea have the potential of a third European final in as many years, and The Times' Matt Dathan notes that any outcome could prove historic:
So many potential final stories: Mourinho vs Guardiola; Mourinho vs old Madrid team; Madrid derby; repeat of 1974 final (Atletico vs Bayern)— Matt Dathan (@matt_dathan) April 11, 2014
The Mirror's Sheridan Bird makes an incisive point about the potential for a repeat of the 1974 final:
Bayern v Atletico final would be replay of match with BIGGEST corner flags ever in 1974 pic.twitter.com/QRF7Ty8NGA— Sheridan Bird (@SheridanBird) April 11, 2014
No matter what, with the quality of the teams left in the competition, a great set of semis is all but guaranteed.
Atletico have been a real force in this season's competition and will prove very difficult for Mourinho's side to break down, as this Squawka stat indicates:
Atletico Madrid have conceded just 5 goals this season in the Champions League, the fewest of any side left in the competition. #UCLdraw— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 11, 2014
And Real Madrid's clash with the German champions is a real challenge to predict.
Real almost came unstuck against Borussia Dortmund in the quarters while Bayern did not look wholly comfortable against a Manchester United side who have been pretty terrible this season.
But if both sides bring their best game in the two legs, it will be a sight to behold with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben all on display.
The ties get underway with Atletico against Chelsea at the Vicente Calderon on April 22.