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Apr 11, 2013

Final four await semifinals draw

Wishing for a Real Madrid-Barcelona matchup when the Champions League semifinals are drawn Friday?

Consider this statistic as Real seeks its 10th: Jose Mourinho's club has the worst record against Bayern Munich historically -- 11 defeats and seven wins in European head-to-heads. In the nine times Bayern and Real have faced off in knockout matchups, the German club has won five.

The top two teams in Spain -- Barcelona, the La Liga champions and favorites, and their fierce rivals Real Madrid will join the top two Bundesliga clubs -- last year's runners-up Bayern Munich and 1997 winners Borussia Dortmund to hear their semifinal fate Friday following a compelling week's action in the competition.

Lionel Messi defied injury to produce yet more magic and set up a vital second-leg equalizer for Barcelona as they saw off Paris Saint-Germain on away goals after the score ended 3-3.

Real were beaten in their second leg by Galatasaray but two goals from the prolific Cristiano Ronaldo proved crucial as they edged out the Turks 5-3 on aggregate.

Dortmund's passage was the most dramatic as they struck twice in injury time to beat Malaga 3-2 and progress by the same aggregate scoreline. Dortmund earned its place in the last four for the first time in 15 years.

By contrast, Bayern's 4-0 aggregate defeat of Juventus was more routine but their presence in the last four completes a line-up to excite the neutral.

For three of the four teams involved it is familiar territory with Barca, Real and Bayern having all reached the same stage last season, although it was Chelsea who went on to win the event.

Between them the four clubs have won the competition 18 times.

Three of Barcelona's wins have come since 2006 and the Catalan giants will again be highly fancied. Assistant coach Jordi Roura said: "When you get to the semifinals of a European competition the best four teams are there, so I don't have any preferences in Friday's draw.

"Whoever we get it is going to be very tricky to advance."

A Barca-Real Madrid clash would create huge excitement with their ill-tempered semi-final meeting of two years ago still fresh in the memory.

Real boss Mourinho, who is chasing a record 10th success for his club and a third for himself, said: "Now we have a semifinal to play against a great team.

"We do not know which one yet but they will be great. It will be hard, yet now is the time to enjoy ourselves and not be nervous or afraid." While Mourinho's future beyond the end of the season remains a subject of speculation, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes has already confirmed he is retiring.

Having secured this season's domestic title, he now has a chance to bow out on a glorious high.

Heynckes, who will be succeeded by former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, said: "We are Bundesliga champions but we still have other goals. "We will see if we are on the same level as Madrid or Barcelona."

Dortmund may be the outsiders of the quartet, but after Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 they are not to be taken lightly.

Coach Jurgen Klopp, however, knows his team cannot rely on the kind of last-gasp heroics they produced against Malaga again.

Speaking after the win, Klopp said: "I cannot explain what has happened inside me after that -- I think I need to see a doctor.

"It feels like we've won the trophy. If we play as we did (against Malaga) we won't win the Champions League, but if we play as we really can and have passion, then we can do well."

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