Real Madrid will play Bayern Munich in Champions League quarters Clash
The road to a Champions League record for Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti will run through his old club — defending champion Real Madrid.
In 2014, Ancelotti successfully fulfilled Madrid’s quest for the “Decima” — a record 10th European Cup title. In doing so, he joined an elite class of four other managers to win the competition with two different clubs. He also coached AC Milan to two Champions League titles.
Now with Bayern Munich, he will host his old club at the Allianz Arena on April 12 for the first leg of quarterfinal play. The second 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.”
Zinedine Zidane, Madrid’s current manager, was an assistant to Ancelotti during the 2014 title run, 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.
Madrid and Bayern have combined to win 16 European titles, both currently sit atop the standings of their national leagues, too. However, when the dust settles, one of these two clubs will end their recent streak of reaching the Champions League semifinals for five straight years.
While Ancelotti is without the services of his former assistant, he does have Xabi Alonso, who was part of the 2014 champion Madrid squad. 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.
While Bayern’s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge referred to the match pairing as a “clash of the titans,” Madrid director Emilio Butragueno thinks it’s happening far too soon.
“It could be a final but it’s a quarterfinal, unfortunately,” Butragueno said.
Barcelona are also scheduled to square off against Juventus, a rematch of the 2015 final. Newcomers Leicester City will face Atletico Madrid, and Borussia Dortmund will take on Monaco.
Juventus ended Barcelona’s hopes in 2003 during the quarterfinals, en route to one of its competition-record six losing finals — against a Milan team coached by Ancelotti 14 years ago. Barcelona, however, have won five European titles in two years, last 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.
Leicester City are making their Champions League debut, and are the only club that has never played in the competition’s final match. 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 quietly become one of the most feared teams in Europe, and the highest scorers of any club in top European leagues this season. This 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.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.