NYON, Switzerland (AP):
A UEFA Champions League semi-final draw steeped in the competition’s rich history paired Real Madrid and Bayern Munich yesterday and then matched Liverpool with Roma.
Two-time defending champion Madrid will first play Bayern in Munich on April 25 in a clash of powerhouse clubs with a combined 17 European titles.
“It’s clear who are favourites. We’re up against the Champions League winners,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
Madrid and Bayern have never met in the final despite a combined 25 appearances in the 63-year-old competition’s title game but this will be their seventh semi-final meeting.
In contrast, Liverpool and Roma played in the 1984 final, the only other season in which the Italian club advanced as far as the semi-finals. Liverpool won that match in the Italian club’s Olympic Stadium home.
Anfield will stage the first leg on April 24, when Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah will reunite with the Roma teammates he left last June in a €42-million (US$50-million) transfer.
“Everybody knows how big Mo’s (Salah) impact on our season has been,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said in comments published on the club’s website. “Where would they (Roma) be if Mo was still there?”
The pairing of American-owned clubs pits a Liverpool team tied to the Boston Red Sox against Roma president James Pallotta, who has a stake in the Boston Celtics.
Both return games will be played the following week. The final is scheduled for May 26 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. The Ukrainian city’s mayor, former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, was at UEFA headquarters Friday for the draw.
Also yesterday, Arsenal was drawn to face Atletico Madrid and Marseille was chosen to play Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League semi-finals.
The first legs will be played on April 26, with the return games on May 3. The final will be played on May 16 in Lyon, France, and the champion will get direct entry into next season’s Champions League.