MX23RW : Monday, May 17 22:05:24| >> :60:1322:1322:
May 5, 2021 at 8pm UK at Stamford Bridge
ChelseaChelsea
2-0
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')

Preview: Chelsea vs. Real Madrid - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Champions League clash between Chelsea and Real Madrid, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Following an enthralling and rain-soaked first leg in the Spanish capital, Chelsea prepare to welcome Real Madrid to Stamford Bridge for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final battle on Wednesday night.

The tie is delicately poised following a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano last week, during which Christian Pulisic's opener was cancelled out by an equally impressive Karim Benzema finish.

Both European powerhouses enjoyed 2-0 victories in league action at the weekend, as Chelsea overcame Fulham while Los Blancos comfortably swept aside Osasuna.


Match preview

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel pictured on April 10, 2021© Reuters

The raucous crowds of the Bernabeu have witnessed some historic Champions League ties in years gone by, and while the players may never get used to behind-closed-doors games at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, the first leg was a real treat for the neutrals.

After Timo Werner had added to his alarming catalogue of gilt-edge chances missed, the ever-impressive Pulisic took it upon himself to break the deadlock after a ball over the top from Antonio Rudiger, as the American winger left Thibaut Courtois sprawling before firing home past Raphael Varane and Nacho Fernandez.

Serial Champions League winner Zinedine Zidane saw his defence carved open at will by Tuchel's bright attacking forces, but Chelsea's lead lasted all of 15 minutes as European veteran Benzema netted his 71st Champions League goal - and a stunning one at that - to restore parity just before the half-hour mark.

The net rippled for the final time on the night with Benzema's thunderous effort, as Chelsea took a potentially priceless away goal back to London for the second leg, and their most recent outing at Stamford Bridge saw Kai Havertz steal the show in a routine 2-0 success over Fulham in the Premier League.

Chelsea's Kai Havertz celebrates scoring their first goal against Fulham in the Premier League on May 1, 2021© Reuters

The Blues' top-four destiny is firmly in their own hands with only four games of the domestic season left to play, and a third-placed finish is not beyond the realm of possibility either, but a Champions League winners' medal after only six months in charge would go a long way to securing Tuchel's long-term future in the Chelsea hotseat.

Benzema's stunning equaliser is the only goal that Chelsea's resilient defence has conceded in their last five games across all competitions, but while Tuchel's unbeaten away record is still intact, he has already witnessed West Bromwich Albion upset the odds at Stamford Bridge.

Defeat in the second leg of their quarter-final tie with Porto represents the Blues' only loss of this season's Champions League so far, though, and they are yet to concede more than one goal in a single game in the 2020-21 tournament - keeping seven clean sheets and conceding just four times in their 11 continental matches so far.

Istanbul is on the horizon, and defence may be the best form of attack for Tuchel given that his side simply need to hold on to what they have on Wednesday. However, only two of their five Champions League games at home this season have ended in victory, as Frank Lampard could not mastermind wins over Sevilla or Krasnodar at Stamford Bridge in the group stage.

Out of the last seven times that Chelsea have avoided defeat in a Champions League first leg away from home, they have advanced to the next round in five of them, but Atletico Madrid managed to break that trend by dumping them out of the 2013-14 tournament, and Real will hope to follow in the footsteps of their local rivals this week.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane pictured on February 14, 2021© Reuters

Zidane certainly knows a thing or two about success in the Champions League, and amid intense speculation surrounding his Bernabeu future, the Frenchman would do well to propel Real Madrid back to the top of the continental game this time around.

Los Blancos have managed to banish the demons of their back-to-back last-16 exits in 2019 and 2020, and in the previous three times that Zidane has overseen a Champions League semi-final, his side have progressed on all three occasions, with their spate of dominance between 2016 and 2018 yet to be replicated.

Only three celebrated names in Marcello Lippi, Carlo Ancelotti and Sir Alex Ferguson have reached the final more times, but Zidane's front men must find their shooting boots if they are to help their manager join that illustrious crowd, and Real had to rely on two unlikely scorers to get them over the line against Osasuna.

After a goalless 76 minutes on Saturday, centre-back Eder Militao rose highest to head home the opener before his compatriot Casemiro made sure of the win four minutes later, and that 2-0 win sees Real pile the pressure on Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga standings.

Karim Benzema celebrates scoring for Real Madrid against Chelsea in the Champions League on April 27, 2021© Reuters

At least one of Barcelona or Atletico will drop points in their mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash next weekend, which leaves the door open for Zidane's side to boost their own hopes of glory, but Los Blancos must only focus on the task at hand at Stamford Bridge before they can dream of more La Liga silverware.

Not since a shock 2-1 home defeat to Levante on January 30 have Real Madrid lost a game in any competition - embarking on a remarkable 19-game unbeaten run since then - and Madrid travel to London having kept five clean sheets in their last six matches.

Los Blancos have also shipped just nine goals in their 19-game unbeaten run - a statistic that becomes all the more impressive when taking into account the absences of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane - and no team has managed to breach Zidane's defence more than once in a match since Levante's surprise win over three months ago.

Real's hot streak also includes a run of six Champions League games unbeaten, although they have drawn their last two, but Zidane's side cannot play for another stalemate as they bid to reach their 17th final in Europe's elite competition, where 13 of their 16 so far have ended with Los Blancos lifting the trophy aloft.

Zidane's men have already managed to keep a clean sheet on English soil this season - although they had some wasteful Liverpool finishing to thank for that - but it is at the other end of the pitch where Benzema and co must shine if they are to book their spot in the showpiece event against Manchester City.

Chelsea Champions League form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D

Chelsea form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W

Real Madrid Champions League form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D

Real Madrid form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W



Team News

Chelsea's Mason Mount goes down injured against Fulham in the Premier League on May 1, 2021© Reuters

Chelsea will make do without former Blancos midfielder Mateo Kovacic after he suffered a small setback in his recovery from a thigh issue, but Mason Mount is expected to be fit despite a scare against Fulham.

Tuchel is also optimistic that Antonio Rudiger will make the cut after he sustained a minor head injury in the first leg, and the German's return could see Kurt Zouma drop out of the back three.

Cesar Azpilicueta was given the day off against Fulham so should displace Reece James at right-wing back, while surprise starter Billy Gilmour will occupy a spot on the bench as Jorginho and N'Golo Kante return to the engine room.

Pulisic and Mount will once again link up in the final third, while Tuchel has a big decision to make when it comes to who will spearhead the attack, and Havertz may edge out Werner after his man-of-the-match display at the weekend.

Real Madrid were expected to welcome 100-goal captain Ramos back to the fold for the visit of Osasuna, but the 35-year-old's calf problem prevented him from earning some valuable minutes, although Los Blancos remain optimistic over his fitness for the second leg.

Ramos would make a very timely return to the fold if he is passed fit as Varane was hooked at half time at the weekend, and the Frenchman has now been ruled out with an abductor issue.

Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez's absences may force Zidane to field Alvaro Odriozola from the off, especially if Nacho Fernandez has to fill in at centre-back, but Marcelo being called up for polling duty should not impact his availability for the second leg.

Should Marcelo be cutting it too close, Zidane will hope that Ferland Mendy shakes off a calf problem in time to start on the left, and midfielder Federico Valverde is in the squad after recovering from coronavirus.

Eden Hazard failed to influence the game from the start against Osasuna so may not start upon his return to Stamford Bridge, but Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will both return after being rested at the weekend.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Silva, Rudiger, Christensen; Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell; Mount, Pulisic; Havertz

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Odriozola, Militao, Nacho, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr


Head To Head

Wednesday's second leg represents the fifth meeting between Real Madrid and Chelsea in Europe, with the Blues unbeaten in their previous four against the 13-time European champions.

Chelsea have never welcomed Los Blancos to Stamford Bridge before, as their three meetings with the Spanish side before this season came in the 1998 UEFA Super Cup final and the two-legged final of the 1971 Cup Winners' Cup, both of which the Blues won.

Benzema's goal in the first leg saw him go level with Raul in the all-time Champions League top goalscorer charts, and a 72nd European strike this week would see him become the outright fourth highest scorer in the tournament's history.


SM words green background

We say: Chelsea 2-1 Real Madrid

Real cannot rely on their resilient, albeit depleted defence to pave a way to the Champions League final, as they simply have to go for goals at Stamford Bridge in order to book their spot in the showpiece event.

Such a strategy could leave Zidane's men vulnerable to Chelsea's pace on the counter attack, and the Blues are not so bad at defending themselves, so we can envisage a narrow success for Tuchel's crop as they prepare to make the journey to Istanbul.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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How you voted: Chelsea vs Real Madrid

Chelsea
34.6%
Draw
42.7%
Real Madrid
22.7%
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Karim Benzema celebrates scoring for Real Madrid against Chelsea in the Champions League on April 27, 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City36265576294783
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd362010670422870
3Leicester CityLeicester362061065442166
4Chelsea361810855332264
5Liverpool36189963422163
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs361781163412259
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham361781156461059
8Everton36168124643356
9Arsenal361671350381255
10Leeds UnitedLeeds36165155753453
11Aston Villa36147155144749
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves36129153549-1445
13Crystal Palace36128164061-2144
14Southampton36127174763-1643
15Burnley36109173351-1839
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle36109174362-1939
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton36814143742-538
RFulham36512192650-2427
RWest Bromwich AlbionWest Brom36511203370-3726
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd3662281962-4320

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