Barcelona and Real kept apart in draw

Favourites Barcelona and Real Madrid were kept apart following the draws for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Champions League, meaning the Spanish giants could face off in the final at Munich's Allianz Arena.

Jose Mourinho, seeking a third Champions League winners' medal, saw his Madrid side paired with surprise Cypriot package APOEL Nicosia, who came through a group including Porto before eliminating Lyon in the last 16.

Holders Barcelona, meanwhile, face a rematch with Italian league leaders AC Milan, with the duo having already met in this season's group phase. Milan held Barca to a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp before goals from Xavi and Lionel Messi helped seal a 3-2 win for Pep Guardiola's outfit at the San Siro.

England's only remaining representitives in Europe, Chelsea, face Benfica, who helped oust last year's runners-up Manchester United in the group stage.

While Bayern Munich, hoping to reach the final to be played in their own stadium, will fancy their chances of reaching the last four against a Marseille side struggling domestically.

The winners of the tie between APOEL and Real Madrid will face the victors of the Marseille-Bayern Munich clash in the semi-finals, with Benfica or Chelsea coming up against either AC Milan or Barcelona for a place in the Allianz Arena showpiece.

"If you want to be champion of Europe you have to beat the best and Milan is without doubt among them," Barca coach Pep Guardiola told reporters in Spain.

"Milan have seven European Cups on their curriculum, all their players are of exceptionally high quality and it will be a very tough tie.

"They are an excellent team in every way, very strong defensively and with quality in midfield and up front that is extremely high. Their players have come through a great number of battles and they know what they are about."

Led by 12-goal Lionel Messi, the Catalans will visit San Siro for the first leg on March 29 as they continue their attempt to become the first side since Milan in 1990 to defend their European crown.

Milan director Umberto Gandini told reporters: "It was pretty much evenly balanced when we met in the group stage.

"We drew away and we lost in Milan with a strange penalty, I know they will not be happy to play us."

Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return to Nou Camp, which he left in acrimonious circumstances, will add further spice to the meeting.

TOO FRENZIED

APOEL have already surpassed expectations by becoming the first Cypriot team to reach the last eight and Erotocritou was reluctant to predict an even greater upset than their round-of-16 elimination of Olympique Lyon.

"We have beaten teams like Zenit [St Petersburg], like Porto, we will try," he said. "I know chances are minimal but we have got quality players and we will give it a try.

"It has been a fantastic dream but maybe the dream is getting near to the end."

He said record nine-times winners Real would face an atmosphere in the first leg in Nicosia that even APOEL officials found too frenzied.

"Unfortunately, it is too passionate to be honest, sometimes we suffer because of that. But this is how we are," Erotocritou added.

Former Real striker and current director Emilio Butragueno said: "APOEL have been a wonderful surprise for everyone. We have to be extremely respectful, they are a good team.

"With the support of their crowd it's going to be very difficult for us, we have to be focused on every detail. You never know in football."

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay, whose side got past Napoli in thrilling fashion on Wednesday after extra time, was happy to travel for the first leg against the Portuguese.

"It's good we have the away game first and we can build a foundation from there," he said.

"Ramires and David Luiz will know a bit about Benfica and also we know a lot about Benfica because they topped the Manchester United group and they are a very good side."

Marseille assistant coach Guy Stephan, whose side left it late to overcome Inter Milan in the last 16, told L'Equipe TV: "It's going to be a very important tie that will weigh on the end of our season. We'll have the disadvantage of playing the first leg at home.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitted it could have been worse. "It won't be easy. But I think we can fundamentally be satisfied with the draw when you see that Milan are playing Barcelona, for example," he said.

"They knocked out Inter Milan, so we've been warned. We'll try and come away from Marseille with a good result. It would be nice if we could go there and push the door open just a little bit."

Quarter-final draw:

APOEL Nicosia v Real Madrid Marseille v Bayern Munich Benfica v Chelsea AC Milan v Barcelona

Ties to be played March 27/28 and April 3/4.

Semi-final draw:

APOEL Nicosia or Real Madrid v Marseille or Bayern Munich Benfica or Chelsea v AC Milan or Barcelona

Tie to be played April 17/18 and April 24/25.

Final:

APOEL Nicosia/Real Madrid/Marseille/Bayern Munich v Benfica/Chelsea/AC Milan/Barcelona

Tie to be played on May 19 at the Allianz Arena, Munich.


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