When is the Champions League semi-final draw?

The four teams still dreaming of European glory will learn their fate for the last four during Friday’s draw in Nyon

WHEN IS THE DRAW?

With the Champions League quarter-finals having come to an end on Wednesday, the focus of the football world will now turn towards Friday’s draw for the semi-finals, with coaches desperate to find out whom they will face as the competition enters its final stages.

The highly-anticipated event will take place in Nyon, Switzerland and is scheduled to start at 12:00 CET, with Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino and director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti in charge of proceedings, assisted by the ambassador for the final in Lisbon, Luis Figo.

WHEN ARE THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SEMI-FINALS?

The semi-final ties involving the four winners from the Champions League quarter-finals will be determined by an open draw. At this stage of the competition, no teams are seeded and clubs from the same national association may be drawn against each other.

The semi-finals are played on a home-and-away basis, with the first legs on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 April and the return legs the following week, Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 April.

WHICH TEAMS HAVE QUALIFIED?

The fact that the semi-final ties will be determined by an open draw means that Atletico could be paired with city-rivals Real again, while a rematch of the 2012 final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea is an option, too.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Although the Champions League was robbed of stars such as Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus, there will still be plenty of stellar names in the last four.

Two out of the three players who made up the podium of the 2014 Fifa Ballon d’Or – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) and Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) – will be present.

Additionally, Real Madrid boast stars such as Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in their squad, Chelsea have Eden Hazard, Oscar and Samuel Eto’o among others, while Atletico can call on Diego Costa, David Villa and Thibaut Courtois.

Not convinced just yet? How about Arjen Robben and Mario Gotze (Bayern), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Frank Lampard (Chelsea) and Luka Modric and Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid)? The list goes on and on!

Muller hails mentally tough Bayern

The midfielder was delighted with the way the team responded to going behind against Manchester United before securing their place in the Champions League semi-finals

Thomas Muller hailed the “superb leaders” in the Bayern Munich side after the holders progressed into the Champions League semi-finals at Manchester United’s expense on Wednesday night.

After the first leg finished 1-1 at Old Trafford, the tie swung in United’s favour when Patrice Evra slammed home a stunning 25-yard drive after 57 minutes to put the visitors in front at the Allianz Arena.

Rather than wilt, however, Bayern equalised immediately through Mario Mandzukic before quickfire goals from Muller and Arjen Robben saw Bayern through 4-2 on aggregate.

At 1-0 down, Germany international Muller admitted: “It did not feel good. Evra had a shot which was simply unstoppable. But our mentality is very good and we have superb leaders that march forwards and we wanted to equalise so badly. We reacted well.

“In the end the goals were the decisive factor in the tie. We ran a lot to score our goals and to get the 1-1 so quickly after we conceded. Then we were able to score another two and could be a little bit more relaxed.”

Bayern made no secret of their dislike for United’s defensive tactics after the Old Trafford encounter but Muller felt Mandzukic, who started that game on the bench, made a difference back in Bavaria.

He added on Sky: “It was a bit annoying after the first leg. We had some situations that reminded us of handball. We did not manage to create clear chances. There were some good situations, but no 100% chances. You start to wonder what to do.

“Today, with me and Mandzu in the box we were a little more dangerous and it helped that one of us took one defender off the other one. In the end our tactics worked.“

Bayern boss Pep Guardiola was delighted his side had remained patient before finally breaking United down.

“I knew it would be tough. This is the Champions League quarter-final and Manchester had their keeper plus eight players in the box,” he said.

“But we were patient and we had a little luck in converting our chances. Now we have reached the semi-final and I am very, very proud of my team.”

I've been practising crossing with my right foot, says Bayern hero Robben

The Dutchman, who set up Thomas Muller for his side’s second goal against Manchester United, was left to revel in the “pure fun” of the holders’ progression to the last four

Arjen Robben has revealed he spent Wednesday’s training session working on crossing with his weaker right foot after he fired Bayern Munich into the Champions League semi-finals.

The holders were stunned in the second half at the Allianz Arena as Patrice Evra’s wonder strike put Manchester United in front, but Robben inspired his side to a 3-1 win, setting up Thomas Muller’s goal before drilling home a third after Mario Mandzkuic had levelled on the night.

Robben crossed to Muller with his right foot for Bayern’s second, and the Netherlands international told Sky after the match that he had practised the skill at the end of training earlier in the day.

“This morning after the last training we joked around on the pitch for 10 minutes and I practised crosses with my right foot. And it helped, it was a pretty good cross,” he said.

“These are the evenings you sacrifice everything for, you do all the training for. These nights are pure fun.”

Robben admitted he enjoyed a more productive evening at the Allianz Arena after being frustrated by United in the first leg, but warned that a potential semi-final showdown with old club Chelsea could be even more difficult for his side.

“The first half was pretty good, I had some space on the right wing. It was the same as always: we had to move the ball quickly and then get into one-on-one situations. It will not be easier if we play against Chelsea. It will be even worse.”

Bayern head into Friday’s draw alongside Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Chelsea.

Champions League wide open as Pep's Bayern struggle again

The Bundesliga champions reached the semi-finals at the expense of Manchester United, but the unstoppable machine from the start of the season is slowing down

COMMENT
By Stefan Coerts

Although no team has won back-to-back Champions League titles since the rebranding of the competition in 1992, title-holders Bayern Munich started the season as red-hot favourites to retain their trophy.

The Bundesliga giants quickly affirmed their status as Europe’s standout team with some indomitable performances in the group stages, most notably in the 3-1 away victory at Manchester City, but they have been struggling to live up to the high expectations in the knockout stages.

After failing to impress against Arsenal in the round of 16, they were caused even more problems in the quarter-finals by a Manchester United side at their lowest ebb for a quarter of a century.

Pep Guardiola’s men came away from Old Trafford with a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the first leg and fared little better at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday, despite eventually recording a relatively comfortable 3-1 win.

Very much like last week, Bayern dominated possession but failed to create any chances of note until Patrice Evra’s opener just shy of the hour mark shook them into life. While they did display remarkable mental strength as Mario Mandzukic immediately restored parity before Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben put the tie to bed, Bayern no longer look unbeatable.

The Bavarians looked short on ideas against the Premier League strugglers and the remaining teams in the Champions League will have noticed how United’s ultra-defensive game-plan frustrated Guardiola’s side.

Atletico Madrid showed against Barcelona that they have the potential to trouble any team and will fancy their chances against Bayern, too. The Vicente Calderon side have impressed throughout the competition with their dogged discipline and lethal counterattacks and should no longer be considered underdogs.

Tuesday’s ties, meanwhile, illustrated that Real Madrid – second favourites prior to this week – and Chelsea are far from invincible, too. The Santiago Bernabeu outfit were fortunate to progress to the semi-finals as Dortmund spurned numerous chances to turn around a 3-0 deficit in the second leg, while Jose Mourinho’s men needed a late Demba Ba goal to shake off Paris Saint-Germain on the away goals rule.

Bayern will still enter Friday’s semi-final draw as favourites to win the competition, but the gap between them and their rivals has closed dramatically. The Champions League is wide open.

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