The Champions League draw threw up a mouthwatering range of possibilities on Friday as troubled holders Chelsea were drawn to play 13-time winners Real Madrid in the quarter finals.
The three Premier League and three La Liga clubs in the last eight avoided each other, with Manchester City up against Atletico Madrid and Liverpool to face Portuguese side Benfica. Bayern Munich will play Villarreal.
Friday’s draw also incorporated the semi-final line-ups which could see Chelsea face Manchester City in a repeat of last season’s final. Liverpool or Benfica will face Bayern or Villarreal.
The quarter-final first legs take place on April 5-6 with the return legs the following week.
Former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti will return to his old club for the first leg and current Stamford Bridge boss Thomas Tuchel described the challenge as a “tough one”.
As things stand, Chelsea will not have any fans at either leg after Uefa said it would uphold EU sanctions against Russian owner Roman Abramovich who has had his assets frozen since announcing he was selling the club.
“The challenge cannot be higher,” Tuchel told reporters on Friday. “Playing the second leg in the Bernabeu with spectators is a big challenge. We know what’s coming, but there is a big excitement around this fixture.
“It’s nice to avoid the English clubs, it’s always nice to play European teams.”
Asked about the prospect of having no Chelsea fans at either leg, Tuchel said: “In general I think this game changes so much with spectators so hopefully we find a solution and I’m pretty sure everyone at the club, the board, will fight for a chance.”
Chelsea are also operating under a budget restriction of just £20,000 for away travel under the special licence granted to them by the government, meaning that they may be forced to take a skeleton staff to the away leg at the Bernabéu, and/or travel by coach.
(Written with Agency reports)