English champions Manchester United were drawn on Friday to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals, pitting them against the defending champions and the favorites.
In the other quarterfinal pairings, Real Madrid will face Borussia Dortmund in a rematch of last year's semifinals, Spanish clubs Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will meet for a spot in the next round, and Paris Saint-German will take on 2012 champion Chelsea.
United and Barcelona will host the opening two matches on April 1, while Madrid and PSG are at home for their first legs on April 2. The return legs will be played on April 8-9.
Bayern dispatched Arsenal in the last-16 and will now seek to beat United, whom they defeated at this stage of the competition en route to the final in the 2009-10 season. United, victors against Bayern in the 1999 final, will have to spring an upset to keep alive any hope of major silverware in David Moyes’ debut season.
Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer warned his players not to be complacent despite United’s disappointing form.
“In the last 16 return leg, they showed they are capable of great things. On good days, they are extremely dangerous,” he said on the club’s official Twitter account. “We must not allow them to have two good days. I think the draw is doable, but also dangerous.”
Real Madrid, meanwhile, will look to make amends for their defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the semifinals of last year’s competition as they attempt to maintain their charge towards a long-awaited 10th European crown.
Dortmund CEO Aki Watzke said the draw was unfortunate for his team, who had also played Madrid in the group stage last season.
“There was no easy draw, but it’s not that nice that we have to play them for the third time in 18 months,” he said. “We are rank outsiders. It’s the same [Madrid] team, really. They’ve swapped [Gareth] Bale for [Mesut] Ozil but Real, alongside Bayern Munich, are the best team in Europe right now. It’s very difficult task indeed.”
Dortmund, who have endured severe injury problems this season, will also be without star striker Robert Lewandowski for the game at the Bernabeu after he was controversially booked in the last round against Zenit St Petersburg.
“Lewandowski’s absence in the first leg is bitter, even more so because it was a laughable decision,” Watzke added. “Real have a lot of respect for Lewandowski.”
Regardless of the Madrid result, there is certain to be Spanish representation in the last four as Barcelona face a quarterfinal meeting with fellow La Liga hopefuls Atletico Madrid.
“With the draw that there was, and the other teams in there, all teams were going to be difficult,” Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta told told Canal Plus. “We are not discovering Atletico just now. We are used to playing against them and that could have weight. These are the most powerful quarter-finals in history. There was nobody in the draw who you think you want to get. They are all great ties. Anyone who likes football will enjoy themselves. This is the draw and we must accept it.”
Chelsea, the 2012 champions, take on French side Paris Saint-Germain for the first time for the first time since they were drawn together in the group stage of the 2004-05 competition. Jose Mourinho, then in his first campaign with the Blues, saw his side claim a 3-0 win in Paris before being held to a 0-0 draw in the return game at Stamford Bridge.