Real Madrid and Barcelona could still meet in the European Cup final for the first time in their history after the quarter-final draw kept the two Spanish giants apart and saw them avoid the German and Italian league leaders, Bayern Munich and Juventus, who will play each other in the tie of the round. They also missed out on facing Málaga, meaning that Spain could yet have three representatives in the semi-finals.
Certainly Spain's big two will be confident of reaching the last four, the draw for which, unlike in recent years, has not yet been made.
There was also an unexpected match-up that emerged from the draw when Paris Saint-Germain's sporting director Leonardo asked his girlfriend, TV presenter Anna Billo, to marry him while giving his reaction to the draw that saw his team face Barcelona. From a the SKY Italia studio in Rome, Billo did not give an answer on air. Instead she told Leonardo, connected by satellite, that they would speak at home.
As well as Barcelona facing PSG, Madrid will play Galatasaray, while Málaga face Borussia Dortmund.
PSG and Galatasaray were the sides that most Spanish teams wanted, although Madrid's assistant coach, Aitor Karanka, insisted "if we think that Galatasaray will be easy we are making a big mistake" and Barcelona's sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, called PSG a team of "great talent".
There was, though, satisfaction at the Bernabeu and in Nyon, where Real's sporting director, Miguel Pardeza, greeted the draw with a smile. The draw will reunite Galatasaray's Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder with José Mourinho; Sneijder will face his former club for the first time since departing in 2009. Paris Saint-Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic will return to the Camp Nou to face Barcelona, although he will miss the first leg through suspension.
Madrid and Barcelona's opponents were less confident. Galatasaray's vice-president, Ali Durust, said: "Once you're in the quarter-finals all teams are strong but Real Madrid are above all teams. If you raise your targets high, then you need to rise to the challenge of such teams." Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain's sporting director, Leonardo, called Barcelona "the best side in the competition, not just for what they did last week [against Milan] but for what they have done over the last few years."
For Málaga it was a different matter. Their coach Manuel Pellegrini has become the first to take two Champions league debutants into the quarter-finals. Now he will try to match his feat at Villarreal in 2006, when they reached the semi-final against Arsenal. Málaga had expressed a desire to avoid the Spanish teams, with their winger Joaquín insisting that playing a side from their own country would take some of the shine off being in the advanced stages of a European competition.
That desire was met but they would have preferred to avoid Jürgen Klopp's impressive Borussia Dortmund side. "The way that Málaga knocked out Porto shows that they have quality," Klopp said. The coach also described them as the "surprises" of the tournament so far. But the sporting director, Michael Zorc, admitted: "We're satisfied with the draw: we're not complaining."
The stand-out tie brings together Juventus and Bayern Munich. The Juventus director Pavel Nedved said: "Bayern are one of the most difficult sides we could have got. I think Bayern are very similar to our team so this will make everything even more difficult for us."
Jupp Heynckes, the Bayern coach, said: "I know Juventus very well. I have seen them a lot over the last two years. They are the best team in Italy at the moment and they have a great stadium. They are a very strong team tactically, defensively and offensively. I'm sure they will be two great football matches." The Bayern chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, admitted: "This was not the draw we dreamed of. Statistically, we do not have a good record against Juventus. We will need to play very well in both games."
In the Europa League Chelsea, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur all managed to avoid each other in the draw for the quarter-finals, where they will meet Rubin Kazan, Benfica and Basel respectively.
Rubin Kazan have already knocked out two Spanish sides in Atlético Madrid, the Europa League holders, and Levante. Moreover, Rubin were unbeaten in a tough group including Internazionale last autumn and, having conceded only three goals in 10 European games this season, are particularly strong defensively.
Rafael Benítez will hope Chelsea can play the away leg in Moscow rather than Tatarstan. Rubin's base, the Russian republic of Tatarstan, is the furthest east of any European club left in the competition but they staged their last-16 home match against Levante at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium because of problems with their pitch. It will be re-examined by Uefa inspectors early next week when a decision will be made about the tie's Russian venue.
Benfica arrived in the Europa League after finishing third in a Champions League group that included Barcelona and Celtic, and were able to produce a 0-0 at the Camp Nou. "I'm really pleased with the draw, it's fabulous," said Alan Pardew. "Benfica are top of the Portuguese League and have a fantastic history but playing the second leg at home gives us a slight advantage. My feeling is that I have a side that can beat anybody."
On paper at least, André Villas-Boas's Spurs face the easiest of the three ties. Basel scraped into the quarter-finals only after Russia's Zenit St Petersburg missed a late penalty on Thursday night but Murat Yakin, the Swiss team's coach, seems undaunted by the prospect of facing Gareth Bale and friends. "We're extremely excited," said Yakin. "Tottenham Hotspur are a great team from a wonderful city and we have nothing to lose."
Málaga v Borussia Dortmund
Real Madrid v Galatasaray
Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona
Bayern Munich v Juventus