With Friday's announcement of the draw for the Champions League semi-finals, we now know which teams will face each other for a spot in the final and a shot at European cup glory.
Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola will return to the Santiago Bernabeu after the German side drew the ex-Barcelona coach's former rivals, Real Madrid. Meanwhile, England's last remaining representatives in the competition, Chelsea, also travel to the Spanish capital to face Real's old foes Atletico Madrid.
With less than a fortnight to go before the first legs kick off, check out our predictions for the semi-finals. Which two teams will face each other in the final in Lisbon?
|2013-14 Champions League Semi-Final Schedule|
|Tie||First leg||Second leg|
|Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich||April 23, Madrid||April 29, Munich|
|Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea||April 22, Madrid||April 30, London|
|2013-14 Champions League Semi-Final Predictions|
|Fixture||First-leg prediction||Second-leg prediction||Aggregate prediction|
|Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich||2-2||3-1 Bayern Munich||5-3 Bayern Munich|
|Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea||1-0 Atletico Madrid||2-0 Chelsea||2-1 Chelsea|
Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich
Whisper it, but this would have made one heck of a final. Between them, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have won a staggering 14 European Cup and Champions League titles, and watching these two heavyweights slug it out for a 15th would have been something special.
As it is, they meet in the last four. Real manager Carlo Ancelotti is under no illusions over how difficult the two-leg tie will be. Per the club's official Twitter account, he said:
Real are a force to be reckoned with in this year's tournament. They are the leading scorers, having fired in 32 goals so far. Bayern are third in the scoring table but have only slotted home 24 times, per UEFA.com. Real's Cristiano Ronaldo is the tournament's leading scorer with 14.
However, Bayern are less reliant on one man to win games. Guardiola has a compact team with dangerous players in every position. They should have just enough to go through to the final, where they could become the first team ever to defend the Champions League trophy.
Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho returns to Madrid having left the Spanish capital for London last year. However, the Portuguese coach is not returning to his old stomping ground at Real's Bernabeu. This time, he will face with the Vicente Calderon faithful when his Chelsea side take on Real's crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid.
Atletico are a team build on defensive solidity. As Mourinho's recently told reporters that he lacks "real strikers," he can expect to struggle to score in the away leg.
As Phil McNulty of BBC Sport notes:
Chelsea may feel an element of relief that they have avoided the European superpowers of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final - but any underestimation of Atletico Madrid will be fatal.
Jose Mourinho is renowned for his meticulous preparation and will have noted the relentless manner in which Diego Simeone's team deservedly overcame Barcelona in the quarter-final. The atmosphere in Atletico's Vicente Calderon will be thunderous and Chelsea will face a team as hungry and driven as their outstanding Argentine coach.
For that reason, something in the region of a 1-0 defeat for Chelsea in Madrid is not out of the question.
However, having the return leg at Stamford Bridge will play into Chelsea hands. The second-leg comeback is something of a specialty of theirs, and with Mourinho at the helm, the Blues have every right to expect a second Champions League final appearance in three years.