Guardiola takes Bayern to Barça, Madrid get Juve

Josep Guardiola will face FC Barcelona for the first time as a coach after his FC Bayern München team were drawn against his former club in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, with holders Real Madrid CF paired with Juventus in the other last-four tie.

Guardiola led Barcelona to UEFA Champions League victories in 2009 and 2011, two of the 14 trophies his side won during his four years in charge at the Camp Nou. Real Madrid and Juventus, meanwhile, have a rich European history of their own; the semi-final will be their 17th and 18th meetings in UEFA competition, the most famous the 1998 UEFA Champions League final.

UEFA Champions League semi-final draw
FC Barcelona v FC Bayern München 6 & 12 May
Juventus v Real Madrid CF 5 & 13 May

UEFA Champions League final draw
Winners of semi-final 2 v Winners of semi-final 1 6 June

Draw highlights
• Barcelona and Bayern have met in eight previous European ties, all since 1996. Their most recent encounter came in the 2012/13 semi-finals, when Bayern triumphed 4-0 in Munich and 3-0 at the Camp Nou – the biggest aggregate victory in a UEFA Champions League semi-final.

• Bayern also got the better of Barcelona in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup semi-finals, following up a 2-2 first-leg draw in Munich with a 2-1 success at the Camp Nou.

• Indeed, Bayern have won on three of their four visits to Barcelona, posting a 2-1 victory in the 1998/99 group stage. However, their other trip produced a 4-0 first-leg defeat in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals; Barça went on to lift the trophy.

• Juventus are in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 12 years; in 2002/03 their last-four opponents were also Real Madrid. Then, the Serie A side went down 2-1 in Madrid but won 3-1 in Turin to set up an all-Italian final against AC Milan, which they lost on penalties at Old Trafford, Manchester.

• Juve and Madrid share a European history going back to 1962, when the Spaniards won their European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-final 3-1 in a replay after each team had prevailed 1-0 away. Their overall record could scarcely be closer, with eight Madrid victories to Juve's seven.

• Their most recent tussle, in last term's group stage, ended in a 2-2 draw – the first stalemate between the sides – at the Juventus Stadium, with Madrid having edged it 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabéu through Cristiano Ronaldo's double.

• The clubs' most famous head-to-head was the 1998 UEFA Champions League final in Amsterdam, Predreg Mijatović scoring the only goal in the 66th minute to give Madrid their seventh European title.

Road to Berlin
• The 2014/15 UEFA Champions League final will be held on Saturday 6 June at the Olympiastadion, Berlin.

  • Published in Sports

Messi scores 400th Barcelona goal to preserve two-point lead

Lionel Messi scored the 400th goal of his Barcelona career as the Catalans beat Champions League-chasing Valencia 2-0 at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

Luis Suarez got Barca off to a flying start as he slotted home the opener after just 54 seconds from Messi’s through ball to give the league leaders an early lead.

However, Valencia then went on to enjoy the majority of the chances but were left to rue Dani Parejo’s missed penalty in the first half when the Argentine skipper scored a late second to seal the game.

Messi made sure of all three points with the final kick of the game after Diego Alves had saved his initial effort to reach the remarkable 400-goal mark.

“400 goals with Barcelona. Hopefully I can score many more,” Messi posted on his official Facebook page. “But the most important thing was that we won three points in a very difficult match.”

Defeat, meanwhile, leaves Valencia four points adrift of third-placed Atletico Madrid, who beat Deportivo la Coruna 2-1 thanks to a double from Antoine Griezmann.

“We played very well in the first-half and had a lot of good chances,” lamented Valencia boss Nuno Espirito Santo. “We go away hurt, sad and angry because we wanted to win. In the first-half we had too many chances to end up with this result.”

Malaga win comes at a price for Real

Real Madrid remain just two points behind Barca at the top of the table as goals from Sergio Ramos, James Rodriguez and Cristiano Ronaldo secured a 3-1 win over Malaga despite a rare missed penalty from Ronaldo.

However, victory came at a cost for the European champions as Gareth Bale and Luka Modric hobbled off with injuries just days before their decisive Champions League quarter-final clash with Atletico Madrid.

“Modric has a problem in his knee, Bale in his calf,” said Real boss Carlo Ancelotti. “Right now we can’t say anything. We will evaluate them in the coming days. They are not completely ruled out.”

  • Published in Sports

UEFA honors Cristiano Ronaldo as Europe's best

UEFA on Thursday presented Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo with its Best Player in Europe Award.

The Portuguese international and reigning Ballon d'Or beat out German World Cup-winning goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Dutch winger Arjen Robben in the vote by a panel of 54 journalists.

Ronaldo, 29, set a Champions League record in 2013-2014, knocking in 17 goals during the campaign that culminated in Real Madrid's 10th win in Europe's pre-eminent club tourney.

He scored 51 goals for the Blancos in 51 matches in all competitions to lead La Liga in scoring and share Europe's Golden Boot with Luis Suarez.

"I'm really happy so I must say thanks to my teammates because without the team, individual awards would not be possible," Ronaldo said after accepting the award from UEFA President Michel Platini following the 2014-2015 Champions League draw at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

Ronaldo has been one of the three finalists for the Best Player in Europe every year since the prize was established in 2011, but this is the first time he has won.

Neuer and Robben both play for Bayern Munich, which won the Bundesliga and German Cup.

  • Published in Sports
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