Madrid derby for Real and Atletico in Champions League semifinals

Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid will look to quiet cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semifinals.
SUSANA VERA/REUTERS

Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid will look to quiet cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semifinals.

Eleven-times champions Real Madrid will take on neighbours Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semifinals after the draw on Friday (Saturday NZ Time) pitted last year's finalists against each other.

The other semifinal will feature Monaco and Juventus. Monaco and Real will play the first leg at home, on May 2 and 3 respectively, with the return fixtures being played on May 9-10.

Real Madrid beat Atletico in the final in 2014 and again in 2016 but playing the second leg away could favour their bitter rivals.

Emilio Butragueño, former Real Madrid forward and the club's current Director of Institutional Relations said: "We know each other well. It's the fourth season in a row we're facing them in Europe and they're a tough opponent.

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"In theory it's better to play the return leg at home but that all depends on the result of the first leg.

"When we played against Bayern it seemed that having the second leg at home was an inconvenience but we got through," he added.

The second semifinal pitches a free-scoring Monaco side, who have scored 24 goals since reaching the group phase, against the steely Juventus defence, the Italian side having conceded only two goals in the campaign.

"Monaco! Strong team with many talented players and an impressive run this season. We have to be careful, but the goal is clear," Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira said on Twitter.

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Monaco, who were knocked out by two-time champions Juve in the 1997-98 Champions League semifinals and in the quarterfinals two years ago, have never won the competition but reached the final in 2004.

"This Monaco team have no limits. They are young and fearless," said Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasiliyev.

"They (Juventus) have re-inforced their squad in the last two years, but so have we," added Vasiliyev.

Real and Juventus are still undefeated in the competition.

The final will be played in Cardiff on June 3.

RED DEVILS DRAW CELTA VIGO

Manchester United will play Celta Vigo and Lyon will take on Ajax in the semifinals of the Europa League.

The draw was made on Friday (Saturday NZT), with United and Lyon getting home matches in the second legs. The first legs take place on May 4, with the return legs on May 11.

United is seeking to win Europe's second-tier competition for the first time, which would earn the English team direct entry into next season's Champions League.

Celta Vigo has advanced to a semifinal of a top European club competition for the first time and is bidding to become the eighth Spanish winner of the Europa League or UEFA Cup in the last 12 years.

Ajax is back in a European semifinal for the first time since the Champions League in 1997.

Lyon has been this far in Europe only twice: 2010 in the Champions League, and 1964 in the now-defunct European Cup Winners' Cup.

- Reuters, AP

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