Only two nations, probably the best in Europe over the last few seasons, will be represented in the semifinals of the 2012-2013 Champions League. Spain, sending its two giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona, while Germany and the ever improving Bundesliga present Bayern Munich and Dortmund.
The semifinals will be played on four different days – the first legs on April 23 and 24, while the second legs on April 30 and May 1, with the draw for the matchups being performed on April 12.
Barcelona are in the semifinal for the sixth season in a row, hoping to win their fourth title since 2006 and fifth overall. Barcelona, currently leading the Spanish La Liga, finished first in their group, ahead of Celtic, Benfica and Spartak Moscow. They beat AC Milan 4-2 on aggregate in the knockout stage and went through on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate score in the quarterfinals against PSG. Their top scorer in the competition this season is Lionel Messi, with 8 goals.
Four time champions, Bayern have made the finals twice over the last three seasons, hoping that in 2013 they’ll make it again and end a 12 year drought of winning the competition. After two years of finishing behind Dortmund, they’ve already clinched the Bundesliga title, the first among the top European leagues to do so. They finished first in the group stage, ahead of Valencia, BATE Borisov and Lille. They beat Arsenal on away goals in the knockout stage (3-3) and made a clean 4-0 sweep of Juventus in the quarterfinals. Thomas Muller, with 5 goals, is the team’s top scorer in the competition this season.
Dortmund, the European champions in 1997, haven’t been to the semifinal since 1998. After two consecutive Bundesliga titles, they’re currently second in Germany, most likely staying that way and not lower till the end of the season. Dortmund remain the only undefeated team in the competition this season, finishing first in the group that included Real Madrid, Ajax and Manchester City. They went through with an impressive 5-2 aggregate score in the knockout stage against Shakhtar, needing a bit more dramatic help to get past Malaga in the quarterfinals with a 3-2 overall score. Their top scorer in the competition this season is Robert Lewandowski with 6 goals.
Real Madrid have won the competition a record nine times, but haven’t won or been to the final since 2002, although 2013 makes it their third consecutive semifinal appearance, all under Jose Mourinho. Real finished second in the group of death, behind Dortmund but ahead of Ajax and Manchester City. In all likelihood, they’ll finish second in the Spanish La Liga as well. In the knockout stage, they beat Manchester United 3-2 on aggregate, setting them up with a quarterfinal against Galatasaray, winning 5-2 after both matches. Cristiano Ronaldo is the team’s top scorer in the competition this season, and also the Champions League leading scorer with 11 goals.