Goal.com takes a look at the four sides remaining in Europe's glamor club tournament as they commence their battle for a place in the final.Four gone, four left. Europe's best quartet this campaign have been determined as Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Real Madrid take one step closer to Champions League glory.
After a series of shocks, surprises and drama throughout this season's competition, the men have finally been separated from the boys. The likes of APOEL, Benfica and Olympique de Marseille had threatened to prolong the upsets, but they were no match for their more illustrious opponents in the quarterfinals as the continent's established heavyweights sailed into the semis.
Below, we take a look at the best four teams left standing in Europe's elite club competition this season as Bayern prepares to take on Madrid and Chelsea locks horns with Barcelona in the semifinals.
Bayern Munich had to go through the playoffs to qualify for the tournament proper, and it did so by dispatching FC Zurich 3-0 on aggregate. There were more hurdles to come for the Bavarians as they were drawn into Group A, labeled the 'Group of Death'. But they swept past their two closest rivals at home, beating Manchester City 2-0 and Napoli 3-2, and a double over Villarreal coupled with a draw at San Paolo against the Partenopei confirmed their place at the top of the section. A 2-0 loss at City on matchday six when they had already qualified as group winners was their only blemish.
The trend of overcoming obstacles continued for Jupp Heynckes' side after it crashed to a 1-0 defeat at Basel in the first leg of the last 16. But the German team responded in style in the home game, annihilating the Swiss outfit 7-0 to record the biggest single game margin of victory in the knockout phase of the Champions League. There were to be no more shocks in the quarterfinals as the Germans swept past Marseille 4-0 on aggregate to move another step towards the final at the Allianz Arena.
Real Madrid became only the fifth club in the history of the Champions League to win all six of their group games. A slender 1-0 away win at Dinamo Zagreb in the Spanish team's opening group match was about all Mourinho's men had to contend with, as five further victories and 18 goals later saw them comfortably march to the top of Group D, a staggering 10 points clear of eventual runner-up Olympique Lyonnais.
Los Blancos' winning run in this season's competition came to an end in the 93rd minute of their first-leg last-16 clash at CSKA Moscow when they were held to a 1-1 draw in Russia. But a convincing 4-1 victory in the return clash saw Madrid ease into the quarterfinals to face Cinderella side APOEL. The David and Goliath battle failed to produce an upset as a 3-0 away-leg win for the Spaniards set them up nicely to cruise to a 5-2 triumph at the Santiago Bernabeu to book their ticket to the semifinals 8-2 on aggregate.
Chelsea's patchy form in the group stage almost saw the English club miss out on the knockout rounds, despite qualifying as Group E victors. The team looked to be on the right path after two wins in its first three games, but a surprise 1-1 draw in Genk followed by a 2-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen put its qualification under threat. However, a 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge over Valencia on matchday six in a must-win encounter propelled it into the next phase.
In the last 16, again Chelsea looked to be heading prematurely for the exit door after crashing to a 3-1 first-leg loss at Napoli. But Roberto Di Matteo was installed as the interim manager to replace the sacked Andre Villas-Boas just before the second leg, and the Blues turned the tie around in stunning fashion to claim a 5-4 aggregate win. Their resurgence continued in the quarterfinals when they earned a 1-0 victory at Benfica in the away leg before wrapping up the tie with a nervy 2-1 success at Stamford Bridge.
Barcelona started off the defense of its European crown with a slight hiccup as it stumbled to a 2-2 draw in their opening Group H clash at home to AC Milan. But Pep Guardiola's side never looked troubled again in the early phase of the competition. The Spanish club scored nine goals in total against BATE Borisov in the two group matches, and six combined against Viktoria Plzen without conceding to either opponent. A 3-2 win in San Siro over the Rossoneri effectively handed the Blaugrana top spot in their section.
Barca carried its insatiable goalscoring form into the last 16, hammering Bayer Leverkusen 10-2 on aggregate thanks to an inspired Lionel Messi, who netted a record-equalling five times in the 7-1 second-leg win. A rematch against Milan in the quarterfinal beckoned and for the first time in this season's competition, Barca failed to scored when it was held to a 0-0 stalemate in the first leg. But a 3-1 win at home in the return saw the Catalans become the first side in Champions League history to make the semifinals five times in a row.