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Football | Champions League

Real, Blues look to seal semis spot



Real Madrid and Chelsea look set to join Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals when they complete their last eight ties at home to Apoel Nicosia and Benfica respetively on Wednesday.

Barring what would be the greatest upset since European club soccer began in the 1950s, Real will advance and face Bayern after winning the first leg 3-0 in Cyprus last week.

Bayern reached the last four after their 2-0 win over Olympique Marseille on Tuesday at their Allianz Arena, which will stage the final, to complete a 4-0 aggregate victory.

Real coach Jose Mourinho, bidding to become the first man to lift the European Cup with three clubs after successes with Porto and Inter Milan, said he plans to field a strong side out of respect to Apoel, the first Cypriot side to make an impact in European club competition.

Chelsea also start as favourites to win their quarterfinal against Benfica albeit with the tie more finely balanced, though the London side are in command after winning the first leg 1-0 in Lisbon last week.

Chelsea, who are set for their sixth semifinal appearance in the last nine seasons, will face holders Barcelona in the last four if they do see off their Portuguese opponents as expected.

Barca stayed on course to become the first team to lift the European Cup in successive seasons since AC Milan in 1990 when they beat the Italian side 3-1 at the Nou Camp on Tuesday after the first leg ended in a 0-0 draw.

Lionel Messi took his goal tally for the season to 58 with two first half penalties to set a Champions League scoring record of 13 - which he extended to 14 goals - in one season.

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