Chelsea have been drawn against La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semifinal, while the other semifinal matches holders Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. The first leg will take place on April 22/23 and the return the following week.
The draw sets up an intriguing situation with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, the 21-year-old goalkeeper on loan with Atletico from Chelsea. I wrote yesterday how the Courtois situation was
threatening to overshadow the draw, and Uefa moved quickly to clarify that Courtois will be eligible to face the Blues in both legs. A statement from European football’s governing body read:
“The integrity of sporting competition is a fundamental principle for UEFA.
“Both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA disciplinary regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may (or may not) field in a match.
“It follows that any provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned. Furthermore, any attempt to enforce such a provision would be a clear violation of both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA disciplinary regulations and would therefore be sanctioned accordingly.”
Both Chelsea and Atletico will be happy with the draw as they avoid Bayern. For Chelsea, they are in the semifinals for the seventh time in 11 seasons, and have a chance to win three consecutive European trophies in succession.
As for Atlético while this is just their fourth every European Cup semi-final, they are familiar with winning in Europe, having won the Europa League in 2009–10 and 2011–12.
The other semifinal between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich brings together two clubs who have won the competition 14 times between them.
Real, who booked their place in the last four with a win over Borussia Dortmund, have won European club football’s top prize nine times, but not since 2002.