Barca battle Bayern and Juve clash with Real in Champions League semis
Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola will face former club Barcelona for the first time in competitive action in the Champions League semi-finals, and outsiders Juventus meet holders Real Madrid.
Prior to Guardiola moving to Munich, the Allianz Arena outfit demolished Barca 7-0 on aggregate at this stage of Europe’s elite club competition two years ago under Jupp Heynckes. Prior to being drawn together in this term’s semis, the Catalan giants and Bundesliga champions were 7/4 joint-favourites with Coral, but Barcelona are now 15/8 market leaders.
Bayern’s odds have drifted to 5/2, behind Barcelona’s El Clasico rivals Real (2/1). There is also a connection underpinning Los Blancos’ final four fixture with Serie A champions Juve, as France icon Zinedine Zidane, now youth team coach at the Bernabeu, played for both.
Max Allegri’s Old Lady are massive 9/1 outsiders to win their first Champions League since 1996, but famously knocked Madrid out at this stage in 2003 with Zidane scoring in vain against the Turin team, though they later lost the final to AC Milan on penalties.
The Champions League ties will take place on May 5th and 6th and the return legs the following week on the 12th and 13th. If the ‘to reach the final’ betting is any indicator, then Berlin should host an El Clasico encounter on June 6th as both Barca (8/11) and Real (4/11) are odds-on to be there.
Champions League semi-final draw:
Barcelona v Bayern Munich
Juventus v Real Madrid
In the Europa League draw, holders Sevilla (9/4 to retain) face Fiorentina (slightly drifting from 3/1 to 10/3) and Rafa Benitez’s Napoli take on Ukrainian outfit Dnipro. The first legs will take place on May 7th with the return fixtures following the week after.
Napoli’s status as favourites has been solidified by their favourable draw, and Benitez, who has won this competition with Chelsea and its predecessor with Valencia, is now 11/10 to lift the trophy (from 7/4).
Europa League semi-final draw:
Napoli v Dnipro
Sevilla v Fiorentina