Chelsea face Real Madrid in a rematch in the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Blues came 1-1 away from Madrid last week. And while it was frustrating not to embark on the second game with a victory that scored first, grabbing a guest away was key to gaining such a small advantage over the most successful side of the race.
Real have endured a stop-start season with injuries and inconsistencies that plague them, but have shown the wisdom and experience to make it to the final four, even though they hardly resemble the country they were from in 2010.
90min visualizes what is designed for a very even and unpredictable race.
When does it start? Wednesday, 5 May – 20:00 (BST)
Where is it played? Stamford Bridge
How to watch on TV in the UK and US? BT Sport 2 (United Kingdom), FuboTV (United States)
Referee? Daniele Orsato
WHERE? Massimiliano Irati
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Midfielder Mateo Kovacic missed Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Fulham over the weekend with a thigh problem that left head coach Thomas Tuchel deciding he was dead.
Antonio Rudiger also missed an injury in the first match against Real, but could be fit in time for the second match on Wednesday, provided he plays with a face mask. N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Christian Pulisic started on the bench on Saturday with a mid-week look.
Kai Haverz gathered a bracket in the victory that could throw him into a dispute.
Rafael Varane was excluded from the game after being fired at halftime at the weekend with a thigh injury.
Central defender Sergio Ramos has been in the wars and missed against Osasuna on Saturday, but is expected to return for that crucial connection. Federico Valverde missed the first match after returning a positive test for COVID-19 and is waiting for results to see if he can test negative in time to appear on Wednesday.
Ferland Mandy suffered a calf problem but trained while the injuries of Danny Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez left Real short chances at right back. Eden Hazard played 72 minutes over the weekend, but continues to find fitness.
Chelsea: Mehndi; Rudiger, Christensen, Silva; Aspilicueta, Jorgeninho, Cante, Chilwell; Mount, Pulisic, Haverz
Real Madrid: Courtois; Odriozola, Militao, Ramos, Nacho; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric, Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
While experience can often be a catalyst, even when a club is clearly not at its best, Zinedine Zidane’s team seems seriously stretched when the season is over.
They remain locked in the battle for the La Liga title and still have a very good chance of winning the Champions League, but with the elimination of the team like flies, things do not seem sustainable.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have galvanized entirely under Tuschel, who led Paris Saint-Germain to the final last season but fell to the final hurdle. The Blues have a strong lineup, dotted with depth and have lost only once in their last ten games.
If there is ever a chance for Chelsea to knock out Real Madrid and reach the Champions League final, this must be the year.
Forecast: Chelsea 2-1 Real Madrid