- Champions League
Barca and Madrid kept apart in Champions League semis
There was relief all-round in Spain as La Liga's big two were kept apart at Friday's Champions League draw in Nyon, with Barcelona drawn against Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid to face Borussia Dortmund, in two mouth-watering Spanish v German semi-final ties.
Bayern were the first team drawn, with Barcelona following them out of the pot setting up a first leg in Munich in two weeks' time with the return game at the Camp Nou a week later.
Barca's game against Bayern, who will be coached from next season by former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, will be a clash of footballing styles, predicted Barcelona's football sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.
"I believe this is a great tie, all the four teams are great teams," Zubizarreta said. "They are a great team, a great club. We will try and play our football, it will be a mix of styles. I hope we get back to playing the way we like, and to make it to [Wembley] a place which is magical for us."
Bayern winger Arjen Robben believes that the two-legged tie will be decided by the "little details" but is confident enough in his side's ability that they could overcome any of the teams left in the competition.
"I think that is a super draw, a nice challenge for us," Robben said. "The four best teams in Europe right now are in the semi-finals and we can survive all of them. It will be deciding to get a good result at home and defend without any mistakes in Barcelona. This tie will be decided by those little details."
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer added that the key to progression for the Bundesliga champions could be keeping Lionel Messi quiet, especially in the second leg.
"That's a cracker! It could have been the final," Neuer said. "Two fantastic games are ahead of us and the fans are looking forward to them big time. Barcelona has an outstanding team, and have been at top both at the international and the domestic level over the past years.
"Of course, we need to keep an eye on the amazing Messi, the best player in the world should not blossom like he did in the return legs against Milan or PSG."
Ex-Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy then paired Madrid with Dortmund, with Jose Mourinho's side having the second game at home at their Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The sides met at this stage in 1997/98, when then-holders Dortmund were eliminated by Madrid, who went on to win their seventh European Cup that season, with current Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes then Blancos coach.
Madrid's director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueno said he hoped his team would improve on their group meetings earlier this season, when Dortmund won 2-1 at home and drew 2-2 at the Bernabeu.
"We have played them twice already this season and were not able to beat them," Butragueno said. "But we believe this time around we will be able to do it, and make it to Wembley."
Dortmund CEO Aki Watzke, meanwhile, told Sky: "We are happy with the draw. I feel sorry for Uli Hoeness for not having drawn the weakest opponent". Watzke's comment was a response to quotes Hoeness had made earlier in the week that Dortmund would represent the easiest route to the final for Bayern.
The games will be played Tuesday April 23 and Wednesday 24, with the return games the following week - April 30 and May 1. The final takes place at Wembley on Saturday May 25, when the winners of semi-final 2 [Dortmund or Madrid] will be the designated 'home' side.
Van Nistelrooy also used the occasion to say he felt for another of his former sides - Malaga - who were eliminated from the competition in heartbreaking and controversial style by Dortmund on Tuesday.
"I am still a bit sad for my Malaga not to be there," the Dutchman said. "It was such a harsh way to go out. I want to tell them I am so proud of them."
Semi-final drawBayern Munich v Barcelona
Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid