Champions League: Reigning champion Chelsea to face Real Madrid in quarterfinals
(CNN)Reigning champion Chelsea will face 13-time winner Real Madrid in the quarterfinals of the Champions League after the draw for the last eight took place Friday.
Chelsea is mired in the middle of controversy after its owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government and the European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Real Madrid executed a stunning comeback to beat Paris Saint-Germain to reach the quarterfinals and have experience of dominating Europe’s most prestigious club competition.
Questions still remain over the future of Chelsea with the club due to be sold soon. Until then, it faces restrictions which could make the tie even more difficult.
Current sanctions prevent it from selling new tickets for upcoming matches until a new owner comes in and their budget for traveling to away games has also been capped.
European football’s governing body UEFA told CNN it was working with Chelsea on all aspects relating to the upcoming match.
The match itself will also throw up plenty of headlines with Eden Hazard making his return to Stamford Bridge alongside former Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti.
“The challenge cannot be much higher,” Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel told reporters, talking about the draw.
“It’s a big challenge and there is also big excitement around this fixture. We know what is coming and it will be an exciting match and tough challenge.”
Tuchel said it would be a big disadvantage for his side if fans were not able to attend the matches.
“The game changes so much with spectators, so hopefully we find a solution,” he said.
Manchester City also faces a Spanish side in Atlético Madrid, Benfica will take on Liverpool, while Villarreal will play Bayern Munich.
The first leg of the quarterfinals will be played on April 5 and 6 with the return leg scheduled for the week after.
Teams also discovered their potential route to the final during the live draw in Nyon, Switzerland.
The winner of the Chelsea and Real Madrid quarterfinal will face either Atlético or Manchester City in the semifinals, while Benfica or Liverpool will play the winner of Villarreal and Bayern.
The final will take place in Paris on May 28 at the Stade de France after European football’s showpiece match was moved from St. Petersburg, Russia, amid the invasion of Ukraine.
Troubled holders Chelsea were drawn against 13-time winners Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Friday, while Manchester City will take on Atletico Madrid.
Liverpool were drawn to play Benfica as all three remaining English clubs were kept apart and Bayern Munich were paired with Spanish side Villarreal.
Chelsea are hoping to defend their title in Europe despite turmoil at the Stamford Bridge club, who were put up for sale after the British government placed Russian owner Roman Abramovich under sanctions in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Thomas Tuchel’s team are due to play Real at home in the first leg on April 5 or 6, before the return at the Santiago Bernabeu a week later.
It was reported this week that Chelsea may have to play their next Champions League home ties behind closed doors due to EU sanctions on Abramovich that prevent them from selling tickets.
Chelsea beat Madrid – now coached by ex-Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti – in the semi-finals last season on the way to defeating Pep Guardiola’s City in the final in Porto and lifting the Champions League trophy for the second time under Abramovich’s ownership.
With the draw for the semi-finals taking place at the same time, Chelsea and City know they will meet each other in the last four should they both progress through their quarter-final ties against Spanish opponents, but a Madrid derby at that stage is also a possibility.
Having eliminated Manchester United in the last 16, Atletico will return to northwest England for the first leg of their tie against City, which sees Guardiola pit his wits against Diego Simeone.
Favourable draw for Liverpool
Liverpool, the 2019 European champions who are still in contention to win a quadruple this season, will be hotly fancied to get the better of two-time European Cup winners Benfica, with the first leg of that tie to be played in Lisbon.
Benfica are currently just third in the Portuguese league this season but they qualified for the last 16 at the expense of Barcelona and then ousted a much-fancied Ajax side.
The winners of that tie will face either Bayern or Villarreal in the last four, with the German giants heading to Spain for the first leg against Unai Emery’s side.