Match preview for Chelsea vs Real Madrid
Chelsea take on Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night to decide the second finalist in this season's UEFA Champions League. The game will start all square after the 1-1draw in the first leg a week ago in Spain, a result that makes the Blues favourites to reach the final. A goalless draw will mean qualification to the final for the team from London for the second time in their history, after the final in 2012, when the team led by Roberto Di Matteo went all the way and lifted the UCL trophy.
This will be the first ever meeting between the two clubs at Stamford Bridge. Until last week's meeting in the first leg, Chelsea and Real Madrid faced each other only in games with a trophy on the line: first in 1971 in Pireu, in the former European Cup Winners’ Cup final when Chelsea won 2-1, and then in 1998 the English side managed another win against Real Madrid,1-0 in the European Super Cup in Monaco. Real Madrid’s only wins in recent history were in friendly games, at the International Champions Cup, 3-1 in 2013 and 3-2 in 2016.
Chelsea are favourites before the start of the second leg, but Real Madrid are more than capable of turning things around. There are plenty of reasons to worry for the Blues considering their only defeats under Thomas Tuchel came at home or in games considered at home. With the German as manager Chelsea have been much better away from home where their only poor results were draws against Leeds and Southampton. At Stamford Bridge, however, they suffered the humiliating 2-5 loss against West Brom a month ago, and ten days after that loss they suffered another defeat in a game considered at home, in the second leg against FC Porto. Both games against the Portuguese team were played in Spain though and Chelsea won the first leg 2-0. In the second leg Porto managed a 1-0 win but qualification was never in danger as the goal came in the closing moments of the game. Chelsea’s most recent games at home were a goalless draw against Brighton and a 2-0 victory against Fulham in their last game, a win that consolidated their Top 4 spot before the most important game of the season so far. Thomas Tuchel’s only squad problems before this game are Mateo Kovacic and Antonio Rudiger, both uncertain because of medical problems.
After two poor European seasons, at least by their standards Real Madrid are one game away from another Champions League final. Zinedine Zidane’s team is not at the same level as they were when they won the Champions League three consecutive times, especially because Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t at Madrid anymore. Chelsea are a difficult opponent and favourites after the result in the first leg but Real Madrid are a dangerous team that enjoys the latter stages in UCL, and with their midfield trio, Kroos, Modric and Casemiro and Benzema in the best form of his career, they could win against any team at any stadium. Another positive thing that could be a huge morale boost for Madrid is that their captain Sergio Ramos could return for this match. He was injured for the most part of 2021, but he is very close to a full recovery and he will definitely be needed at the heart of Real Madrid’s defence, especially now with Raphael Varane on the injury list. Zidane’s defence was already weakened considering his first two choice right backs Carvajal and Lucas Vasquez are injured. His first choice left back Mendy is not fully recovered from his injury while Marcelo the second choice could be unavailable because of local election duties. Real Madrid are winless in the Champions League in their last 4 trips to England (2 draws and 2 defeats) and scored only two goals. However, Zidane has reached the Champions League final as a manager every time he qualified to the semifinals. In their most recent game Los Blancos managed a 2-0 win at home against Osasuna thanks to goals from Eder Militao and Casemiro, result that keeps them in the title race in La Liga.