CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Real looks to Bayern test

Mourinho gives Chelsea little hope in European semifinal against champion

José Mourinho believes Barcelona will reach the final in Munich.
José Mourinho believes Barcelona will reach the final in Munich. Ángel Díaz (EFE)

In the end, AC Milan was unable to repeat its heroic rearguard first-leg action, succumbing to Barcelona's mesmerizing possession play in a 3-1 win for Pep Guardiola's side — albeit one ultimately settled from the penalty spot by Leo Messi, who took his tally in the competition this season to 14, rather than through flowing outfield endeavor.

In the other match featuring a Spanish participant, Apoel Nicosia was given little chance of overturning a 0-3 deficit from the match in Cyprus and duly shipped five more in the Bernabéu, nevertheless upsetting the local apple cart slightly by beating Iker Casillas twice in a display rightly lauded by coach Ivan Jovanovic: "The final result was fair. They were better than us but we leave satisfied. The important thing is the result was not terrible and we managed to score as well. It's been a great year for us. We were the only team left who started out on the 12th of July. We worked hard to get here and we deserved it. The Bernabéu was a fitting place to end our run."

Now the thoughts of the remaining four sides turn to the semifinals later this month. Champion Barcelona will renew hostilities with Chelsea, which it defeated in 2009 via Andrés Iniesta's last-gasp strike. Real will face Bayern Munich, the team José Mourinho's Inter Milan beat to claim the 2010 Champions League title in none other than the Santiago Bernabéu.

Bayern perhaps represents the best chance Europe stands of avoiding an all-Spain clash in the final. Since Mourinho arrived at Real there have been so many clásicos that few outside of Madrid and Catalonia are ready to stomach another. The German side, champion in 2001, has the added incentive of the final being held at its own Allianz Arena in Munich.

"They are basically the same team I played two years ago," Mourinho said. "It's a game everyone wants to play and all Europe should enjoy it. Real and Bayern are very equal, both very strong."

The Portuguese did not give his former club, Chelsea, much hope of meeting his current team in the final: "The big question is who will play Barcelona," quipped the Real coach. His spokesman, Eladio Paramés, clarified the still-brooding Mourinho's veiled message. "There are those that have reached five semifinals in five years through [referee Anders] Frisk and his successors, and those that have reached six in eight years out of hard work," wrote Paramés on his Twitter account.

Frisk was accused by then-Chelsea coach Mourinho of favoring Barcelona in the 2005 last-16 match between the two and falsely accused the referee of speaking to Barça coach Frank Rijkaard at half-time.

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