Pep Guardiola’s returned to the club
Pep Guardiola will return to former club Barcelona for the first time with Bayern Munich after the two clubs were drawn against each other in the European Champions League semifinal. Guardiola spent a highly-successful four years in charge of Barca between 2008 and 2012, leading the club to three Spanish La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns. After taking a year out, the Spaniard returned to management with Bayern and guided the club to the German league and cup double last season, but will be hoping to follow that up this year with success in Europe’s elite club competition after his side was eliminated by Real Madrid at the semifinal stage in 2014.
One of Guardiola’s main tasks will be attempting to stop his former player Lionel Messi, who has struck 46 goals in all competitions this term and helped fire Barca to the top of the Spanish La Liga table. Bayern, which won the Champions League in 2013, thumped Porto 6-1 on Tuesday to reach the semifinals with a 7-4 aggregate win, while Barca progressed past Paris Saint-Germain 5-1 on aggregate. The first leg is at Camp Nou on May 6 and the return at Munich’s Allianz Arena is on May 12.
Elsewhere, Juventus and Real Madrid will meet in the other last-four tie, with the Spanish side aiming to become the first team to successfully defend the title in the competition’s current format. Real travels to Turin on May 5 and hosts the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 13, while the final will be staged in Berlin on June 6.
Real beat Atletico Madrid in last season’s final and advanced past its local rivals this week to reach the semifinal after winning 1-0 in the second leg — a first win for Real over Atletico after eight attempts this season. Juventus is in the last four for the first time since 2003, and the Italian champion has not emerged victorious in the competition since 1996.
Meanwhile, Europa League holder Sevilla will continue its defense of the trophy with a semifinal tie against Italy’s Fiorentina. The Spanish club, which beat Benfica on penalties in last season’s final, is looking to win Europe’s second-tier competition for the fourth time in nine years. Napoli takes on Ukraine’s Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the other semifinal, with the Italian Serie A side’s coach Rafael Benitez aiming to land the trophy for the third time in his career. Benitez guided both Valencia and Chelsea to glory in 2004 and 2013 respectively.