The UEFA Champions League blog is now closed, but stay with UEFA.com for more in-depth reaction from each of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League quarter-final ties, including historical background.
Having been paired with the defending champions, FC Schalke 04 have had the opportunity to study their next opponents at close quarters as FC Internazionale Milano ousted FC Bayern München in a remarkable game on Tuesday, and the players are under no illusions. "I know [Wesley Sneijder] very well from my time at Real Madrid," says Christoph Metzelder. "Together with Samuel Eto'o, he belongs among the world's best attacking players. This is a very big challenge, but also attractive opponents. It's curious, and I hope a good omen, that in 1997 on the way to the UEFA Cup triumph Schalke's opponents were also Valencia and Inter."
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer echoed those thoughts, adding: "We've caught a big fish with the reigning champions. But maybe that's a good omen, given that Schalke have been successful already in 1997 at San Siro. It could be an advantage to play away first. On the other hand the round of 16 should be a warning to us. Inter lost their home game and prevailed with a 3-2 win in Munich."
FC Shakhtar Donetsk defender Dmytro Chygrynskyy has the chance of a quick return to the Camp Nou and is all too aware of the size of the task at hand, saying: "The games against FC Barcelona will be thrilling. Our opponents need no introduction. They have got weaknesses but it's not that easy to expose them. Today I will probably call Maxwell, my former Barça team-mate, and advise him to be very well prepared for our visit."
Back to the UEFA Champions League and, although Tottenham Hotspur FC and FC Shakhtar Donetsk respectively block their paths, it seems people cannot stop talking about the prospect of a Real Madrid CF-FC Barcelona semi-final, which would be a repeat of their meeting at the same stage of the 2001/02 competition, won 3-1 on aggregate by Madrid.
"Should ourselves and Barcelona reach the semis it would mean many encounters between us in such a short space of time," said Madrid sporting director Miguel Pardeza. "We will have to make sure we are in top form should that be the case. It's an exceptional situation. I certainly don't have an experience of it in my time here. We must take advantage of our strengths; we've got a very big squad."
Pardeza accepts reaching the last four will not be easy, however, adding: "Tottenham are very good rivals; it's not going to be easy. They have invested well in their team and they have players who we know like Rafael van der Vaart. They are a side that maybe are not the leading lights but they are coming back to the fore. We would have prefered to play the first leg away from home but now we must put in a top performance at the Santiago Bernabéu so that we can travel to London with a good result."
The UEFA Europa League quarter-final draw:
FC Porto v FC Spartak Moskva
SL Benfica v PSV Eindhoven
Villarreal CF v FC Twente
SC Braga v FC Dynamo Kyiv
The quarter-finals will be played on 7 and 14 April.
The semi-final lineup is:
Semi-final 1: SC Braga/FC Dynamo Kyiv v SL Benfica/PSV Eindhoven
Semi-final 2: FC Porto/FC Spartak Moskva v Villarreal CF/FC Twente
These games will be played on 28 April and 5 May with the winners of semi-final 2 having nominal home advantage for the final at the Dublin Arena on 18 May.
There is plenty of respect among the eight teams in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, FC Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta saying: "Shakhtar are a good, emerging team. They are a very fast side and they are in the quarter-finals on merit. This is what the draw has given us so we will have to take advantage of the first 90 minutes at home in front of our fans and try to take a positive result while all the time being aware that there will be a tricky game waiting for us in Donetsk. We are only going to think about Shakhtar and not [a possible semi-final against] Real Madrid. We certainly don't want to get ahead of ourselves."
Having said that, if Barcelona and Real Madrid CF do both win through they will face each other four times in 15 days; they meet in the league on 17 April and the final of the Copa del Rey three days later.
While most of the Chelsea players who lost the 2008 UEFA Champions League final to United are still at the club, Chelsea secretary David Barnard is reluctant to talk about the tie as a chance for revenge. "We've got a great rivalry domestically but the Champions League is something different," he said. "It's not about revenge but we know each other well enough. Whether the players want to put a wrong right is a bit of a cliche but it's a great motivation."
His United counterpart, John Alexander, is looking forward to a gripping tie, with another encounter between the sides still to come in the top flight a few weeks later. "It's a very exciting prospect with both teams still in with a chance of winning the Premier League and the Champions League," he added. "The second leg at home is and advantage but European football is sometimes different in how it's played to domestic competitions."
Although the UEFA Champions League draw has captured most of the attention this morning, the UEFA Europa League quarter-final draw is starting now – click here to watch it live and stay with UEFA.com for full draw coverage and reaction.
Tottenham Hotspur FC players have also reacted positively to the draw, Rafael van der Vaart – who swapped Real Madrid CF's Santiago Bernabéu for White Hart Lane last summer – saying via Twitter: "What a draw! Back to Madrid for the quarter-finals!"
Steven Pienaar is equally pleased, adding: "Great game for us v Madrid!"
Martyn Hindley, Nyon
Having helped conduct the draw, former FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur FC forward Gary Lineker is looking forward to the ties, telling UEFA.com: "What a great night for Tottenham fans in Madrid and at home. I was chatting to Zubi [Andoni Zubizarreta] beforehand and he said 'Anyone but Shakhtar' so he didn't give me a nice look after the draw!"
FC Barcelona vice-president Josep María Bartomeu is another who is taking nothing for granted, saying: "We're here among the best eight teams in Europe and any opponents would be difficult, especially Shakhtar who are playing very well. We'll have to take this match very seriously. They played very well against Roma, not only in that match but the season itself. We now have to accept the draw and fight as much as possible."
FC Internazionale Milano and FC Schalke 04 are also old friends, the German side winning the UEFA Cup final at San Siro in 1997 on penalties after both teams had won their home game 1-0. Inter gained revenge next season, triumphing 2-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals of the same competition en route to lifting the trophy.
Inter ambassador Luís Figo says: "Honestly if we could choose a team, we would have picked Schalke but then you have to be superior on the pitch and that's a completely different matter. Schalke did well in the group and eliminated a strong side in Valencia in the round of 16 so it will not be easy at all. They are especially strong in attack; they have dangerous forwards. I would have preferred to have the home game in the return leg, but I don't think it's a big problem for our team as we showed against Bayern."
FC Barcelona and FC Shakhtar Donetsk have met seven times previously, the Ukrainian side winning two games and Barcelona four including a 1-0 victory in the 2009 UEFA Super Cup in Monaco. However, Josep Guardiola acknowledges a tough task lies in wait: "I'd prefer not to come up against Shakhtar because I know them well and don't like them," said the coach after his side beat Arsenal FC in the round of 16.
Shakhtar CEO Serhiy Palkin is hoping to tap into the inside knowledge of defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy, who spent last season at the Camp Nou. "There are no minor things in football, every single detail is important," he said.
Chelsea FC-Manchester United FC will be the tenth all-English tie in the UEFA Champions League and the third involving United, who beat Chelsea on penalties in the 2008 showpiece in Moscow. Sir Alex Ferguson's side also overcame Arsenal FC in the 2008/09 semi-finals.
Chelsea have been involved in seven of those all-Premier League ties, winning against Arsenal in the 2003/04 quarter-finals and beating Liverpool FC in the 2007/08 semi-finals and 2008/09 quarter-finals. The Blues, however, lost to United in 2008 and to Liverpool in the 2004/05 and 2006/07 semi-finals.
So that's the draw – and there are some mouth-watering ties in prospect.
Nine-time winners Real Madrid CF are in this stage for the first time since 2003/04 yet they have won none of their last five meetings against English teams, losing four of them. Tottenham Hotspur FC, who reached the semi-finals on their only previous European Champion Clubs' Cup appearance, in 1961/62, who have played Spanish opponents eight times and won only once, the first against Club Atlético de Madrid in the 1962/63 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final.
At the final at Wembley on 28 May, the home side will be the winners of semi-final 2 against the victors of semi-final 1.
And now we move to the semi-final draw:
Semi-final 1: FC Internazionale Milano/FC Schalke 04 v Chelsea FC/Manchester United FC.
Semi-final 2: Real Madrid CF/Tottenham Hotspur FC v FC Barcelona/FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
The semi-final ties will be played on 26/27 April and 3/4 May.
The draw is under way and the first tie is Real Madrid CF v Tottenham Hotspur FC.
Chelsea FC will play Manchester United FC, a repeat of the 2008 final.
FC Barcelona will face FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
Holders FC Internazionale Milano will play FC Schalke 04.
The quarter-finals will be played on 5/6 and 12/13 April.
After a video presentation of the eight teams remaining in the competition, Gianni Infantino welcomes Final Ambassador Gary Lineker to the stage. "I've got friends who are fans of Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham and they're all saying the same thing; not Barcelona!" jokes Lineker, who will conduct the draw with the UEFA General Secretary.
UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino addresses the attendees, beginning with a message of sympathy and support following the recent earthquake in Japan. "Congratulations to the clubs that are here – as usual, it is a privilege that is hard to receive. The round of 16 is renowned for its surprises. All of you here are fully deserved and congratulations especially to Tottenham and Shakhtar, who are here for the first time. The 112 matches so far have lived up to expectations. Everybody has the right to dream and dreams seem closer to reality when only four matches separate the teams from the final at Wembley Stadium.”
The UEFA Champions League theme music echoes around the draw hall and we're under way here.
We're almost ready for the draw here; stay with UEFA.com for full coverage and reaction and click here to watch a live video feed of the draw.
While most teams would prefer to avoid FC Barcelona, the three-time European champions are philosophical about their potential fate, goalkeeper Víctor Valdés saying simply: "Any team in the quarter-finals will be tough. I've always said that if you want to win the Champions League you have to play against the best teams. That's why I have no particular preference; I just want to get through and play the next opponents."
It has been a turbulent week at FC Schalke 04 with coach Felix Magath departing on Wednesday and Ralf Rangnick returning yesterday but the German side have performed impressively in this competition, overcoming Valencia CF in the round of 16.
Raúl González relished that encounter with Spanish opposition but the former Real Madrid CF forward would prefer to avoid his compatriots, explaining: "Valencia was OK but I would prefer not to play a Spanish side again, neither Real nor Barcelona."
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer believes, having also reached the German Cup final, Schalke will rise to whatever challenge awaits them, saying: "There are only top sides left, but I have noticed one thing this season: we are up to the task when we are playing knockout matches." Christoph Metzelder points to the Arena Aufschalke as a key factor, saying: "All the teams left are very strong, so we’re definitely one of the outsiders – but it's difficult to beat us at home."
Martyn Hindley, Nyon
Shakhtar CEO Serhiy Palkin has just arrived at UEFA HQ arrived appearing remarkably relaxed. The delegation from the first-time quarter-finalists is followed in by Ronnie Whelan, the UEFA Europa League Final Ambassador ahead of that draw at 13.00CET. "We are guaranteed a great final, it's so open and hard to predict," Whelan said.
FC Shakhtar Donetsk are also in the last eight for the first time but, having won the UEFA Cup in 2009 and ousted AS Roma in the last round, the Ukrainian champions have earned plenty of respect.
"We're happy to be in the last eight of the UEFA Champions League, but we aren't going to stop here," said their defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy. "We're ready to fight everyone. We have to demonstrate quality game like we did against Roma in Donetsk. I don't know who our next opponents will be but I have a feeling we'll play Inter."
Just half an hour to go to the UEFA Champions League draw and anticipation is mounting here at Nyon. You can follow live video coverage of the draw here.
While the likes of FC Internazionale Milano, FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC are old hands at this, Tottenham Hotspur FC are in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time, and Michael Dawson is relishing the prospect.
"We're playing in the Champions League against the best teams in the world," said the defender, whose side beat AC Milan in the last 16. "We're a top team and we want to test ourselves against the best. AC Milan made us change the way we play but it was a fantastic result to win 1-0 out there and to keep a clean sheet at White Hart Lane was good enough to get us into the next round. We're looking forward to the draw. It means a lot to everyone. We've done well to achieve what we have done so far this year but we want to go as far as we can. Whoever we get is going to be a top team. We've come up against top teams in the group stage and then AC Milan, so we'll be ready for whoever we get and we'll look forward to it."
José Mourinho’s last club won through in thrilling fashion at FC Bayern München on Tuesday – a repeat of last season's final – and the Inter sqad are happy to accept whoever come their way. Júlio César said: "I would like to meet Mourinho now. It would be great."
Wesley Sneijder, however, is not so sure, explaining: "It's not so important which team we face now, but I would prefer to play against Madrid in the final."
Real Madrid CF are in the last eight for the first time since 2003/04 having beaten Olympique Lyonnais on Wednesday and in José Mourinho they have a man who knows what it takes to win the UEFA Champions League with FC Porto (2004) and FC Internazionale Milano (2010).
"I wouldn't like to play against Inter or Chelsea for emotional reasons," says Mourinho. "If I have to face those that were once my people I will do, but it will require me to be more psychologically ready than if I was facing a team that is not in my heart. If we had not qualified it would have been a failure because Real Madrid are always thinking about going further than the last 16."
Ancelotti seems to have summed up the prevailing mood that FC Barcelona are the team to avoid – although Sir Alex Ferguson insists his Manchester United FC side would show no fear should they be paired with the team that beat them in the 2009 final.
"I don't think it's good tactics to go into how good they are or show trepidation or apprehension about it," he said. "I don't think that's our way. You have to face whoever comes along and we have got experience of playing Barcelona recently. We knocked them out in the semi-final [in 2007/08] and then lost the final to them in Rome. So we've got the experience of being there and it's all the same players they've got."
Martyn Hindley, Nyon
FC Barcelona are already represented at UEFA HQ; Andoni Zubizarreta is outside of the auditorium, where the walls are decked with memories of past Wembley finals. Barça's former goalkeeper has a sparkle in the eye discussing 1992 and the win over UC Sampdoria that secured the club's first European Champion Clubs' Cup.
There's been lots of pre-draw talk about who teams would like to face, and Chelsea FC manager Carlo Ancelotti sums up the general mood of who to avoid: "I would like not to pick Barcelona because they're the strongest team; actually, if I could I would put both Barcelona and Manchester United in the other half of the draw so that we could only face them in the final, but we have to wait anyway and then we will see what we have to do, how we have to prepare for the next round. For sure I am not looking for any revenge. We are lucky because in this decisive moment almost all the players are fit. They are fresh and strongly motivated: Chelsea still have many things to say."
Martyn Hindley, Nyon
It's a beautiful sunny day in Nyon. UEFA Champions League Final Ambassador Gary Lineker, who will conduct the draw along with UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, has arrived at UEFA HQ and is coy when asked of his hopes for his former clubs Tottenham and FC Barcelona, although he has been more open on his feelings for the final itself.
"The Champions League is a wonderful competition, with the best teams in Europe, the best club competition in the world. And the fact it's coming to London, to Wembley – a long time since it's been in London. So it's great, and it's nice to be part and parcel of both the Champions League and the fact it's at Wembley."
Friday 10.00, Nyon
UEFA.com will bring you all the coverage of today's draw for the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, which starts at 12.00CET at UEFA HQ in Nyon, Switzerland. The eight remaining teams – holders FC Internazionale Milano, FC Barcelona, Manchester United FC, Real Madrid CF, Chelsea FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC, FC Schalke 04 and FC Shakhtar Donetsk – will take part in an open draw, with no country protection.
The quarter-finals will take place on 5/6 and 12/13 April.
Teams will also discover their potential semi-final opponents, with those ties to be played on 26/27 April and 3/4 May, while the nominal home team for the final will also be determined. This season's UEFA Champions League final will take place at Wembley on Saturday 28 May, kick-off 20.45CET.
You can find full background to the draw here, while there's the opportunity to chat about your dream draw here. In the meantime, stick with UEFA.com for all the build-up, the draw itself and the reaction from all eight clubs.
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