MX23RW : Tuesday, May 18 01:04:09| >> :120:6399:6399:
May 5, 2021 at 8pm UK at Stamford Bridge
Real MadridReal Madrid
Werner (28'), Mount (85')
Jorginho (14'), Christensen (39'), Mount (87')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Ramos (36'), Nacho (62'), Kroos (72'), Valverde (90')

Combined XI: Chelsea vs. Real Madrid

Ahead of Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg between Chelsea and Real Madrid, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads.

A spot in the Champions League final awaits for Chelsea or Real Madrid, who prepare to do battle in the second leg of their semi-final tie at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.

Christian Pulisic's well-taken goal put Chelsea in the ascendancy during last week's first leg in Madrid, but Champions League veteran Karim Benzema scored a sublime equaliser to level the contest as the two sides ultimately drew 1-1.

The Blues are still fighting for a top-four finish in the Premier League, and they boosted their chances with a comfortable 2-0 success against Fulham at the weekend, during which Kai Havertz netted both goals.

Real Madrid secured a 2-0 league victory of their own against Osasuna as they continue to push for the La Liga title, as Eder Militao and Casemiro scored two quickfire goals in the second 45 to leave them second in the table.

Some of Europe's brightest talents will be on show at Stamford Bridge in the second leg, and with that in mind, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads, using only players expected to be available for the showdown.

Combined XI: CHE vs. RMA

Real Madrid number one Thibaut Courtois was left sprawling as Pulisic rounded him for the first goal at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, but the Belgian keeper nevertheless boasts a remarkable haul of 20 clean sheets across all competitions this season, including four in his last four La Liga outings. Courtois will be praying that his return to Stamford Bridge is a memorable one, and he beats Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga to a spot in our team.

Injuries to Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez have left Real Madrid rather short when it comes to right-back options, with out-of-favour Alvaro Odriozola the only option available to Zinedine Zidane for the second leg. In contrast, Chelsea have both Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta raring to go, and with the latter relishing his leadership role under Thomas Tuchel, he beats James to a spot in defence.

On the opposite side, doubts persist over Ferland Mendy and Marcelo's involvement in the second leg, but Ben Chilwell will aim to build on the 10 goal contributions he boasts this season and he starts on the left.

Real Madrid's injury woes do not end there, as Raphael Varane - who would have been a candidate for this XI - will miss the game with an abductor problem. However, Zidane's inspirational captain Sergio Ramos is expected to be fit as he goes in search of a fifth Champions League crown, and he is included over Nacho and Militao. Alongside him is another veteran of the game in Thiago Silva, who has marshalled a resilient defence since Tuchel took over and shows no signs of slowing down at the age of 36, with Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen all missing out.

Casemiro is known for his prowess as a defensive lynchpin, but the Brazilian has produced the goods at the other end of the pitch this term too, registering seven goals and five assists in all competitions. The Real Madrid ever-present is also fondly remembered for his scorcher in the 2016-17 final against Juventus, and he earns a spot in the engine room over Jorginho and the injured Mateo Kovacic.

N'Golo Kante's tireless running has earned him plaudits throughout his career, and he deservedly scooped the Champions League's Player of the Week award for his performance at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano last week. Linking up with the Frenchman in midfield is Toni Kroos, who has set up his teammates 10 times continentally and domestically this season, and the German just beats his fellow classy teammate Luka Modric to a spot in our XI.

After witnessing Timo Werner miss a gilt-edge chance to put Chelsea in front in Madrid, Christian Pulisic took it upon himself to draw first blood following a stunning pass by Rudiger. The speedy American provides a constant threat out wide and is finally managing to stay fit, with his form keeping Hakim Ziyech out of the Chelsea team and out of this combined lineup. Pulisic's teammate Mason Mount occupies the left-wing spot after chalking up eight goals and eight assists this term, meaning that former Blue Eden Hazard is controversially left out amid his constant injury problems.

With Werner failing to fire and Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham both out of favour at Chelsea, only one man could fill the centre-forward's role. Real Madrid stalwart Karim Benzema drew level with Raul on 71 Champions League goals with his stunning equaliser in the first leg, and at the age of 33, he boasts 36 goal contributions (28 goals, eight assists) in all tournaments this season. That streak includes six goals in the Champions League, and another one here would see him become the tournament's all-time fourth-highest goalscorer behind Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski.

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Real Madrid's Raphael Varane pictured in March 2021
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