Defending champions Real Madrid are all set to host Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.
Real Madrid and Chelsea will square up against each other in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. The first leg of this high-voltage fixture will take place at the iconic Santiago Bernabeu. Both teams have won the European title in the recent past and will be looking to secure an early advantage in the first leg and inch closer to booking their place in the semi-finals.
Los Blancos, who have won the Champions League a record 14 times, will be eager to add to their tally and secure their place in the semi-finals. Manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has won the competition four times with AC Milan and Real Madrid, will be looking to guide his side to victory over Chelsea in their quarter-final tie.
Real Madrid are currently second in La Liga. But the league title race seems to be over as they are 13 points behind the league leaders Barcelona. Ancelotti’s men are heading into this fixture on the back of a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Villarreal. They will be eager to bounce back with a win in the first leg.
Real Madrid have their eyes set on the Champions League title. And, they have an impressive home record in the competition, having won their last five matches at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, it won’t be that easy a task given the quality of their opposition.
Meanwhile, visitors Chelsea, who won the Champions League in 2021, will be hoping to repeat their success and reach the semi-finals of the competition. The Blues have had a disappointing season so far. But winning the UCL can surely help them end it on a high.
The Blues will be looking to build on their recent 2-1 win on aggregate over Borussia Dortmund. The return of N’Golo Kante from injury will be a major boost for the visitors as they head into this encounter. They are heading into this encounter on the back of a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Wolves under the leadership of caretaker manager Frank Lampard.
Chelsea will need to be at their best to overcome a formidable Real Madrid side. But they will be confident of causing an upset. The last encounter between the two teams was in the quarter-finals last season. The Blues managed to win 3-2 at the Bernabeu, but Real Madrid ended up progressing to the semi-finals with a 5-3 aggregate scoreline, ending the Blues’ hopes of defending their Champions League title.
It is going to be another exciting tie between two teams who know what it takes to lift the UCL title. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the teams and the tactics they could deploy.
Team News & Tactics
Carlo Ancelotti will be without the services of Ferland Mendy yet again. Apart from him, there is nothing else to worry about for the Real Madrid manager. While there is a lot of talk going on about an incident involving Federico Valverde and Villarreal’s Alex Baena. As of now, Valverde seems to be available for this fixture.
📋✅ Our squad for the match 🆚 @ChelseaFC! #UCL pic.twitter.com/rPkf7X1XYE
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 11, 2023
Ancelotti made numerous changes for the fixture against Villarreal, and he is expected to call back all his senior players for this fixture. While the 4-2-3-1 formation has done wonders for the Italian manager of late, he is expected to revert to his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation for this outing.
Thibaut Courtois will be in goal. Eduardo Camavinga and Dani Carvajal should be the full-backs. Eder Militao and David Alaba are likely to start in the heart of the defence. As far as the midfield is concerned, the veteran duo of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos could line up alongside Federico Valverde.
The trio will look to dictate the pace of the game and not allow the Blues midfield to have the ball for long periods of time. Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes are expected to start as the wingers. Meanwhile, Karim Benzema will be leading the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Camavinga; Kroos, Modric, Valverde; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius
Frank Lampard will be without the services of Armando Broja and Thiago Silva for this away fixture against Real Madrid due to knee injuries. Meanwhile, Cesar Azpilicueta is yet to return from his head injury. While Mason Mount’s UCL suspension is over, but he is still a doubt for this fixture due to an abdominal issue.
Feeling good! 🙌#UCL pic.twitter.com/dY4K6j8ezt
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 11, 2023
They do have a major boost as N’Golo Kantr is expected to be back in the squad after being left out against Wolves. The Frenchman is likely to start from the get-go.
Lampard is also expected to start with the 4-3-3 formation where Kepa Arrizabalaga will be in goal. Reece James and Ben Chilwell should be the full-backs. Wesley Fofana should pair up with Kalidou Koulibaly in the heart of the defence.
As far as the midfield three goes, Kante should feature alongside winter signing Enzo Fernandez and Mateo Kovacic. Kante’s return will be key for the Blues as the Frenchman is expected to play a major part in both defence as well as attack. Joao Felix and Raheem Sterling should start out wide as the wingers. Meanwhile, Kai Havertz should be leading the line for the London club.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; James, Fofana, Koulibaly, Chilwell; Kovacic, Fernandez, Kante; Sterling, Havertz, Felix
- Real Madrid and Chelsea will square up against each other in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the third season in a row. Both teams have won the tie once.
- Real Madrid have only won one out of their seven matches against Chelsea in Europe.
- Los Blancos are the highest-scoring team in the Spanish league and they will look to bring that attacking form against the Blues.
- Frank Lampard’s team have lost only one out of their last nine UEFA Champions League away games against Spanish opponents.
- Los Blancos have scored in each of their last 30 home knockout games in the UCL.
Player to Watch
The Brazilian international has been on fire in the ongoing season. He has featured in 44 matches for Los Blancos and has 36 goal contributions to his name. The 22-year-old has scored 21 goals in all competitions.
As far as the ongoing Champions League season is concerned, Vinicius has nine goal contributions in his eight outings. Ancelotti will once again bank on his winger to do the damage. He has been doing great of late and will look to continue his good run.
Real Madrid 2-1 Chelsea
Real Madrid might have had a great result against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey second leg. But they were given a reality check in their last outing against Villarreal. Carlo Ancelotti is well aware of the fact that this tie might end up deciding his future at Madrid and will try his best to deliver the goods.
Meanwhile, Chelsea, who have had a poor season so far, have a great opportunity to revive themselves with a win over Real Madrid. They do have a big boost as N’Golo Kante is back in the mix and he can surely have a huge impact on the game. However, they might still struggle a touch against Los Blancos. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the home team.
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