Real Madrid entertain Chelsea in Valdebebas in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal on Tuesday night.
Zinedine Zidane’s side go into the game off the back of a 0-0 draw at home to Real Betis, which raises further questions over their effectiveness in front of goal, while Chelsea claimed an important 1-0 win away to West Ham on Saturday, strengthening their hope of a top-four finish this season.
Both sides were involved in the failed plans announced a week ago to form a breakaway Super League, with Chelsea one of the first to announce their withdrawal from the project, which had Madrid president Florentino Perez as its prime mover and main defender.
Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy are both likely to miss out for Real Madrid as they recover from injury. Meanwhile, Toni Kroos, whose presence is vital in the Madrid midfield, is still a doubt with a muscle injury, although Zidane will have Dani Carvajal available after the right-back returned from a two-month layoff against Betis.
Eden Hazard also came on as a second-half substitute after another month out and the Belgian will be able to face his former club, although it’s doubtful Zidane will risk the injury-prone winger from the start.
The Madrid coach is likely to prefer Vinicius Jr, who produced two impressive displays against Liverpool in the quarterfinals, and Chelsea’s fear must be that the Spanish side turn on one of the performances they seem to reserve for big occasions.
The Blues go into the game on the back of three consecutive clean sheets, and have only conceded nine goals in 21 games since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as coach, with five of those coming in a surprise home defeat against West Brom.
Timo Werner’s goal at the weekend will give the German a boost after a difficult first season, while England midfielder Mason Mount is a threat attacking from midfield. Chelsea will play with three central defenders, with wing-backs Ben Chilwell and Cesar Azpilicueta looking to push forward, although they will be wary of giving space to Vinicius and Karim Benzema on Tuesday.
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