Chelsea will be looking to make it an all-English final in the Champions League when they host Real Madrid in the second leg of the semi-finals at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. The teams drew 1-1 in the first leg at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.
The London side outplayed Real Madrid in the first 30 minutes of the first leg. Christian Pulisic opened the scoring for Chelsea in the 14th minute, but they maintain a similar intensity of pressing and passing throughout the game. Karim Benzema came up with a brilliant bit of skill to level the scoring in the first half itself. Both sides effectively cancelled out each other, but Chelsea did get the away goal.
Chelsea comes into Wednesday’s game on the back of a comfortable win against Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday. Real Madrid also clinched a much-needed win in the La Liga against Osasuna to remain in the title race. It is going to be an intriguing tactical battle at the bridge as Real Madrid will be looking to reach the fourth final under Zinedine Zidane, while Chelsea will be looking to assert Premier League dominance by setting up a final against Manchester City.
Mateo Kovacic remains sidelined for Chelsea, having picked up an injury during the quarter-final win over Porto. Antonio Rudiger is available after missing out on Saturday’s 2-0 win at Fulham with a facial injury. The German defender is set to wear a protective mask if he plays against Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde has recovered from as he travelled to London after testing negative in the last test. Los Blancos will be without Raphael Varane, who picked up an abductor injury at the weekend. Dani Carvajal is sidelined with a hamstring injury he suffered during the first leg last week. Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy have recovered from their injuries to feature in the game at the Bridge.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell; Ziyech, Mount; Havertz.
Real Madrid predicted XI (4-3-3): Courtois; Valverde, Militao, Ramos, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr
What did coaches say?
Zinédine Zidane, Real Madrid coach: “We need to perform well. Physically, we need to give everything we have. You have to dig in out there. That’s what we had to do in the first leg, and tomorrow will be the same. I am only worried about what we do with the ball. The team is ready.”
Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea manager: “The challenge is to keep the intensity going through the whole match. It is a semi-final; the pressure is on,- a knockout game, so to arrive with a level of belief and confidence is necessary or we will have no chance.”
Chelsea 2-1 Real Madrid
Tuchel has managed to beat various big teams during his short tenure at Chelsea. The onus will be on Real Madrid to open the scoring, which could eventually play in the hands of the home side. Tuchel’s team can be devastating on the break and also maintain great defensive shape. It will be a huge surprise if Real Madrid comes away with a victory.