It’s a repeat of the final of 2016 and 2014. It’s an intriguing matchup that should include stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Antoine Griezmann.
But most of all, it’s a local derby, and it is happening in the later rounds of the Champions League for the fourth year in a row.
Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid will meet in the a Champions League semifinal next month after the draw on Friday morning. The winner will claim city bragging rights and a date with the winner of the other semifinal, between France’s A.S. Monaco and the Italian champion Juventus.
Real has got the best of Atlético recently in the Champions League, beating it in the 2014 and 2016 finals as well as in the clubs’ quarterfinal meeting in 2015. But Atlético can hold onto its league title in 2014, when it beat out both Real Madrid and Barcelona against all odds.
This season, Real is back on top, holding a 3-point lead over Barcelona with a game in hand entering this weekend’s Clásico against Barcelona. Atlético, which has one of the world’s most coveted players in the French striker Griezmann, is out of contention in third place.
Real is bidding to add to its record 11 European titles and become the first repeat winner since Milan in 1989 and ‘90, when the competition was called the European Cup.
Monaco, with the Colombian striker Radamel Falcao knocking in the goals, is having its best season in years. It is tied for first in the French league with the wealthy perennial champion Paris Saint-Germain, and it has advanced its furthest in the Champions League since it played in the 2004 final.
Juventus is closing in on a sixth straight Italian league title, but it has not won a Champions League since 1996. It has been runner-up four times since then, including in 2015, when it lost to Barcelona.
Bookmakers have made Real and Juventus the solid favorites to meet in the final. The semifinal first legs will be May 2 and 3 in Madrid and Monaco, with the second legs on May 9 and 10. The final will be June 3 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Europa League: Manchester United, a disappointment in the Premier League this season, will meet Spain’s Celta Vigo in one semifinal, while Lyon will face Ajax Amsterdam in the other. The Europa League final will be May 24 in Solna, Sweden.