Real Madrid to play Bayern in Champions League quarterfinals

Real Madrid to play Bayern in Champions League quarterfinals

NYON, Switzerland — The road to a Champions League record for Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti will go through his old club — defending champion Real Madrid.

When Ancelotti fulfilled Madrid’s quest for the “Decima” — a record-extending 10th European Cup title — in 2014, he joined a select group of five coaches to win the competition with two different clubs. He also coached AC Milan to two Champions League titles.

Ancelotti’s new team will host his previous club in Munich in the first leg of the quarterfinals on April 12. The return match will be played in Madrid six days later.

“Matches against Real are obviously special for me,” Ancelotti said. “It’ll be exciting for me to go back to Madrid.”

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane was Ancelotti’s assistant for the 2014 title, and won a Champions League of his own last May to cap his coaching debut season.

“Our relationship is like that of a master and apprentice,” Zidane said.

Also in Friday’s draw, Barcelona will meet Juventus in a rematch of the 2015 final, Champions League newcomer Leicester will face Atletico Madrid, and Borussia Dortmund will take on Monaco.

The first legs will be played on April 11-12, with the return matches on April 18-19.

Madrid and Bayern have combined to win 16 European titles and both currently lead their national leagues. One club, however, will end its recent streak of reaching the Champions League semifinals for five straight years.

Former Madrid players now with Ancelotti include Xabi Alonso from the 2014 champions. One-time Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos now lines up alongside Madrid forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

“By the quarterfinal stage all the teams are well-known. There are no secrets anymore,” Ancelotti said.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge called it a “clash of the titans,” while Madrid director Emilio Butragueno lamented the pairing arriving so soon.

“It could be a final but it’s a quarterfinal, unfortunately,” Butragueno said.

Barcelona won its fifth European title two years, beating Juventus 3-1 in Berlin, in coach Luis Enrique’s first season with the club. A Champions League final on June 3 in Cardiff, Wales, would be Luis Enrique’s final match before leaving the club.

Juventus did oust Barcelona in the quarterfinals in 2003, en route to one of its competition-record six losing finals — against a Milan team coached by Ancelotti 14 years ago.

Leicester is making its debut in the competition, and is the only team in the draw which has never played in a Champions League final. But Leicester and Atletico have played before. The Spanish club eliminated Leicester in the first round of the UEFA Cup in 1997.

“We know very well the problem Sevilla had with Leicester,” Atletico director Clemente Villaverde said.

Monaco has become a feared team, and the highest scorers in any top European league this season, after starting among the lowest-ranked clubs in the group-stage draw in August.

Neither Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim nor Dortmund’s Thomas Tuchel has ever led a team to the Champions League semifinals.

“A very exciting, very difficult lot,” Tuchel said, describing Monaco as a team “with great individual talent and an outstanding coach. We need to show our absolute best performance twice.”

Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press

Canadian Press

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