Real Madrid are set to host Premier League strugglers Chelsea in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-finals clash at the Santiago Bernabeu. Los Blancos are aiming to do another repeat of back-to-back Champions League wins this season and need to get past Frank Lampard’s side first.
For the London giants, the Champions League success could be a clean slate for a poor season. They have a really expensive, star-studded squad – but it’s now upon Lampard to reignite the missing fire in his players and get them firing on all cylinders.
In Real Madrid, they face a team glittered in European gold. Los Blancos have a squad that knows exactly what to do to win such trophies and one that comprehensively defeated them last season too.
This should be a case of attack vs defense and feature A LOT of counter-attacking football. The team that can keep a lid on their tempers and is most efficient in the final third will hold the advantage heading into the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
Last 5 Games
Real Madrid, obviously, holds a much better recent run of form heading into this game than Chelsea – even after losing to Villarreal at home at the weekend. Los Blancos have won three of their last five games, including matches against Liverpool and Barcelona. Chelsea, on the other hand, has one win in their last five games in all competitions.
Loss: 3-2 vs Villarreal
Win: 4-0 vs Barcelona
Win: 6-0 vs Real Valladolid
Loss: 2-1 vs Barcelona
Win: 1-0 vs Liverpool
Loss: 1-0 vs Wolves
Draw: 0-0 vs Liverpool
Loss: 2-0 vs Aston Villa
Draw: 2-2 vs Everton
Win: 3-1 vs Leicester City
Carlo Ancelotti is blessed to have an almost fully fit squad available to pick for this vital Champions League clash. He’s done a great job in rotating his players enough to ensure not many succumbed to regular injuries this season.
Ferland Mendy remains the only absentee for Los Blancos against Chelsea, as he’s still out for a lot of time with a knee injury.
Chelsea, on the other hand, will be missing some key players. That includes Lampard’s favorite midfielder, Mason Mount, who is yet to recover from the injury that has kept him out of action for quite some while.
Cesar Azpilicueta is also expected to miss this due to injury, while Armando Broja is out for the season. Thiago Silva, however, should make a return to action in this game.
Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Alaba, Kroos, Camavinga, Modric, Valverde, Vinicius Jr, Benzema
Chelsea: Kepa, Fofana, Silva, Koulibaly, James, Kante, Enzo, Chilwell, Felix, Sterling, Havertz
Chelsea actually boasts a better head-to-head record against Real Madrid, despite the teams only having met on 7 occasions in competitive games.
The Blues have won four of the seven games they’ve faced against the La Liga giants in their history together.
The recent-most game was actually also won by Chelsea last season. They defeated Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu (3-2) in a highly entertaining clash but were knocked out of the Champions League due to a better win picked by Los Blancos in the first leg.
Where the game will be decided
Chelsea and Real Madrid produced a highly entertaining Champions League clash last time around and definitely have the pedigree to run it back this time around. Chelsea might be in a worse state than they were at this point last season, but they’ve been solid in the Champions League.
The Blues have maintained a pretty good defensive record this season and their backline is their strongest suit. Moreover, they have players like N’Golo Kante and Enzo Fernandez to provide more defensive cover, which can cause problems for Real Madrid.
This game will probably be an ‘attack vs defense’ contest in which the Blues drop back and force the hosts to pile more bodies forward. That could be risky knowing the quality Madrid possesses. Karim Benzema is in amazing form, with two hattricks in his last three games.
He can’t do wrong in finishing chances and leading from the front. Vinicius Jr is a menace in swift breaks, being able to wiggle into dangerous areas and create big chances. Fede Valverde and Luka Modric also possess enough creative threats to torment Chelsea.
The Blues need to be at their best to keep Madrid quiet. Thiago Silva needs to command an impenetrable backline and needs backup from players like Kante or Enzo. If able to frustrate Madrid and force them into errors, Chelsea could trouble them with their counter-attacks and potentially get something away from the Santiago Bernabeu.
We back Real Madrid to get a win in this first leg over Chelsea. It’s mostly because of how good they’ve seemed in recent weeks and their biggest players appear to have found their touch this season too.
Chelsea are undergoing a rough patch and this squad has trained very little under Lampard. They’re lacking firepower in the attacking areas and can’t really depend on their defense to bail them out all the time. Expect Benzema and Vinicius to run the show and get a positive result for their team.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-0 Chelsea
Real Madrid to win: 11/16
Chelsea to win: 41/10
Real Madrid are the bookmakers’ favorites to win the game with 11/16 odds. This means that if someone was to bet $1 on them to win, the desired result would get them a $1.69 return – with a basic $0.69 profit.
Chelsea, on the hand, have not been given many chances to win this with 41/10 odds. That means if one was to bet $1 on them to win, they’d get a $5.10 return on that result – with a $4.10 profit!
*by BetUS at the time of writing
The game will kick off at 20:00 GMT and the referee will be Francois Letexier.