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All 5 former winners in same half of Champions League draw


GENEVA — All five former Champions League winners were put into the same half of the draw on Friday, setting up a possible semifinal pairing between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Real Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, Chelsea and Bayern Munich — who have combined to win 26 European Cups — will whittle down one side of the draw to reach the final on Aug. 23 at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon.

The other side will see three-time finalist Atlético Madrid face Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain meet Atalanta. Leipzig and Atalanta are newcomers to this stage.

The single-leg quarterfinal matches will be played on four straight evenings from Aug. 12-15 to start a mini-tournament without fans in Portugal. The semifinals are scheduled for Aug. 17-18.

Four quarterfinalists are still to be decided, all involving the former champions. Juventus trails Lyon 1-0 ahead of their round of 16 meeting next month in Turin. The winner of the two-leg series will play either Real Madrid or Manchester City in the last eight. City won 2-1 in Spain in February.

Barcelona and Napoli also have a game to play in Spain, tied at 1-1, before heading to Portugal. The winner will likely get a quarterfinal match against Bayern, which won 3-0 at Chelsea in the first leg.

Those four outstanding games will be played on Aug. 7 and 8, hosted by the home teams: Barcelona, Bayern, Juventus and Man City.

The other half of the draw was much more straightforward with all four quarterfinalists set before the coronavirus pandemic shut down European soccer.

The single-leg quarterfinals and semifinals were both drawn Friday, putting Ronaldo and his Juventus teammates on course to meet Messi and Barcelona.

Soccer's most prestigious club competition will resume after a break of nearly five months because of the coronavirus pandemic, and teams will restart at different stages in their preparation.

Bayern finished off a league and cup double after Germany’s early restart in May. Still, it has a one-month gap between hosting Chelsea and the end of the domestic season.

Chelsea has also somewhat affected the Atlético-Leipzig quarterfinal match. Forward Timo Werner declined to end the season with Leipzig after agreeing to a $68 million move to Chelsea. Werner cannot play for his new club until next season.

Atlanta and PSG are in strikingly different situations. Atalanta has won six straight games since the Serie A restart in June and has seven more to play, including at Juventus on Saturday. PSG has not played since March 11 but retained its French title when the league declared an early end.

The French team, which has Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, has only two domestic cup finals to play this month before facing Atalanta.

Also, Real Madrid and Barcelona are in a tight race for the Spanish league title, Juventus will likely seal another Serie A title and Man City also has advanced to the FA Cup semifinals.

City is also expected to find out next week the verdict in its appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against a two-year ban from UEFA competitions for breaking financial monitoring rules.


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Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press

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