By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor
Madrid were picked first against Apoel Nicosia in what should represent a comfortable tie for Jose Mourinho's men, while Pep Guardiola's side were out last, paired with Italian giants AC Milan.
That was the one Guardiola had said he wanted to avoid, but Barca will be confident of progressing after claiming a thrilling 3-2 win over the Rossoneri at San Siro in the group stages.
Should - as will be expected - both sides advance to the semi-finals, Madrid will face the winner of Bayern Munich-Marseille; the Catalans will meet either Chelsea or Benfica.
After Barca claimed their place in the last eight with a stunning 7-1 thumping of Bayer Leverkusen to secure a 10-2 aggregate success last week, Madrid had to keep their side of the bargain and duly did so as they thrashed CSKA Moscow 4-1 on Wednesday to remain on course for La Decima - a 10th success in European football's premier club competition.
|REAL MADRID vs BARCELONA
European Cup semi-final
Real Madrid 3-1 Barcelona
Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid
Madrid win 6-2 on agg
European Cup, 1st round
Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona
Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid
Barca win 4-3 on agg
Champions League, semi-final
Barcelona 0-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona
Madrid win 3-1 on agg
Champions League, semi-final
Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona
Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid
Barca win 3-1 on agg
Eager to return the club to its former glories and challenge Barca's hegemony, Madrid president Florentino Perez looked to Mourinho in the summer of 2010. This was after the Portuguese had led Inter to Champions League glory at, of all places, the Santiago Bernabeu, and eliminating, of all teams, Barcelona, in the semi-finals.
But Mourinho was unable to repeat that trick the following season as Madrid lost out to Barca over two games in the last four, going down 2-0 at the Bernabeu before a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou saw them miss out on a place in the final. Dreams of La Decima died - and against their eternal enemies.
Conspiracy theories surfaced as Mourinho attacked Uefa, Unicef and almost everyone concerned with Barcelona, claiming the Catalans had referees on their side after Pepe was sent off in the first match.
Tensions boiled over again in the next Clasico clashes, as Barca beat Madrid once more to the Spanish Supercopa in August, while Guardiola's side also defeated Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey and in La Liga, too, winning both games at the Bernabeu.
But the last time Barca and Madrid met in a single game at a neutral venue, Mourinho's men came out on top, sealing victory in the final of the Copa del Rey at Mestalla last April in extra time after 90 goalless minutes.
So the scene is set now for another classic Clasico, a mouthwatering May meeting in Munich; the seventh and last clash of the season between Europe's two top teams. Uefa president Michel Platini only last week said Madrid against Barcelona would make for a "great final" at the Allianz Arena. Now the dream date is a step closer to reality: Spain awaits; Europe expects.
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