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UEFA Champions League

Italy just a stop on road to Kiev for Madrid & Barca

15:47 GMT+3 16/03/2018
Cristiano Ronaldo Mario Mandzukic Juventus Real Madrid UCL 03062017
The two Clasico rivals were kept apart in Friday's draw and will be expected to advance to the last four after the two were paired with Serie A sides

The road to Kiev passes through Italy for Real Madrid and Barcelona. The two Spanish sides have won the Champions League three times apiece since 2009 and both will be considered favourites to advance to the semi-finals this time around after drawing Juventus and Roma, respectively.

Real are 12-time European champions and have claimed the famous trophy in three of the last four years, including back-to-back successes under Zinedine Zidane over the past two seasons.

Barca, meanwhile, have won the competition on five occasions and last lifted the coveted cup when they completed a treble in 2015, having also achieved a triple triumph in 2009 and then followed up with another victory in 2011.

Both of the Clasico rivals were handed tough draws in the last 16. Real, having finished second in their group, were paired with Paris Saint-Germain, while Barca faced Chelsea. In the end, however, the two teams prevailed with relative ease.

On Friday, Real were drawn against Juventus in a repeat of last season's final (which Los Blancos won 4-1 in Cardiff), while Barca face Roma for a place in the Champions League semi-finals. Both sides will be happy with the lot.

Juventus, in theory, is a tough draw for Real. The Italian champions are one of Europe's great teams, but this is an Old Lady that really is getting on, an ageing team that somehow found a way past Tottenham in the second round despite only being the better team for around 20 minutes of the entire tie.

"Honestly, I feel Tottenham were superior for much of the tie," Real legend Emilio Butragueno said after the draw. "But Juve showed their character to qualify. That says a lot about the winning mentality they have, like ours."

It did. Juve found a way to win, just like Madrid. And although historically Real have had difficulty against the Italian giants in the European Cup, Zidane's side would appear to be in better shape following their recent return to form.

"Real are concentrating on the Champions League," former Juve midfielder Pavel Nedved said. "We will have more difficulty in that we are fighting on three fronts. It will be very tough but we're ready to face this part of the season."

Meanwhile, Barca probably have the best draw of all in Roma. The Italian side edged out Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 16 and are way off the pace in Serie A title race this season, so even reaching this stage is a bonus.

"We will face the best team in Europe," Roma legend Francesco Totti said. "Barcelona will also be concerned at facing us. Roma has a very important and tough task ahead."

Perhaps. But it could have been much worse for both Barca and Real. The Primera Division pair managed to avoid Manchster City, Bayern Munich and Liverpool in Friday's draw, while neither really wanted an all-Spanish tie against Sevilla.

So, Italy should really be just another stop for the two Liga clubs on the road to Kiev and perhaps, a first Champions League Clasico since 2011.