First El Clasico final remains a possibility after draw

Spanish giants kept apart while Bayern Munich will meet Juventus in plum tie

Barcelona will meet PSG
in the Champions League quarter-finals. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona will meet PSG in the Champions League quarter-finals. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Sat, Mar 16, 2013, 10:08

Real Madrid and Barcelona could still meet in the European Cup final for the first time in their history after the quarter-final draw kept the two Spanish giants apart and saw them avoid the German and Italian league leaders, Bayern Munich and Juventus, who will play each other in the tie of the round.

Spain’s big two will be confident of reaching the last four, the draw for which, unlike in recent years, has not yet been made. Barcelona have been paired with Paris Saint-Germain and David Beckham, England’s only player left in the competition. Madrid will play Galatasaray, while Malaga, the third remaining Spanish team, face Borussia Dortmund.

The draw will reunite Galatasaray’s Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder with Jose Mourinho; Sneijder will face his former club for the first time since departing in 2009. Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic will return to the Camp Nou to face Barcelona, although he will miss the first leg through suspension.

Madrid and Barcelona’s opponents did not sound confident. Galatasaray’s vice-president, Ali Durust, said: “Once you’re in the quarter-finals all teams are strong but Real Madrid are above all teams. If you raise your targets high, then you need to rise to the challenge of such teams.” Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain’s sporting director, Leonardo, called Barcelona “the best side in the competition”.

For Malaga it was a different matter. Their coach Manuel Pellegrini has become the first to take two Champions league debutants into the quarter-finals. Now he will try to match his feat at Villarreal in 2006, when they reached the semi-final against Arsenal.

Malaga had expressed a desire to avoid the Spanish teams, with their winger Joaquin insisting that playing a side from their own country would take some of the shine off being in the advanced stages of a European competition.

That desire was met but they would have preferred to avoid Jurgen Klopp’s impressive Borussia Dortmund side. “The way that Malaga knocked out Porto shows that they have quality,” Klopp said. The coach also described them as the “surprises” of the tournament so far.

The stand-out tie brings together Juventus and Bayern Munich. The Juventus director Pavel Nedved said: “Bayern are one of the most difficult sides we could have got. I think Bayern are very similar to our team so this will make everything even more difficult for us.”

Jupp Heynckes, the Bayern coach, said: “Juventus are the best team in Italy at the moment. They are a very strong team tactically, defensively and offensively. I’m sure they will be two great football matches.”

In the Europa League Chelsea, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur all managed to avoid each other in the draw for the quarter-finals, where they will meet Rubin Kazan, Benfica and Basel respectively.

Rubin Kazan have already knocked out two Spanish sides in Atletico Madrid, the Europa League holders, and Levante. Moreover, Rubin were unbeaten in a tough group including Internazionale last autumn and, having conceded only three goals in 10 European games this season, are particularly strong defensively.

Rafael Benitez will hope Chelsea can play the away leg in Moscow rather than Tatarstan. Rubin’s base, the Russian republic of Tatarstan, is the furthest east of any European club left in the competition but they staged their last-16 home match against Levante at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium due to problems with their pitch. It will be re-examined by Uefa inspectors early next week when a decision will be made about the venue.

Benfica arrived in the Europa League after finishing third in a Champions League group that included Barcelona and Celtic, and were able to produce a 0-0 at the Camp Nou.

On paper at least, Andre Villas-Boas’s Spurs face the easiest of the three ties. Basel scraped into the quarter-finals only after Russia’s Zenit St Petersburg missed a late penalty on Thursday night but Murat Yakin, the Swiss team’s coach, seems undaunted by the prospect of facing Gareth Bale and friends. “We’re extremely excited,” said Yakin. “Tottenham Hotspur are a great team from a wonderful city and we have nothing to lose.”
Guardian Service