A mouth that makes the mouth water Champions League, the quarterfinals begin tonight as defending champions Chelsea welcome La Liga leaders Real Madrid to Stamford Bridge.
The first leg kicks off a rematch of one of last year’s semi-finals, in which the Blues emerged 3-1 winners on aggregate. However, Thomas Tuchel’s team enters this match on the back of a stunning 4-1 loss to Brentford in the Premier League, which ended a good streak of form.
Led by former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, Real has bounced back from a 4-0 dismantling by rivals Barcelona in The classic defeat of Celta Vigo 2-1 this weekend.
Honest, who have won this competition more than any other club (13), showed their pedigree in the final round, with Karim Benzema scoring a hat-trick in the second leg to secure an unlikely win against Paris Saint-Germain. Meanwhile, Chelsea beat Lille 4-1 in two games.
Here’s everything you ought to know about tonight’s first leg.
When is it?
The game starts at 8 pm BST at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, April 6.
How can I watch it?
The game will be published live on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport Ultimate in the UK, with coverage starting at 7 pm BST.
The broadcaster’s website and app will stream the action live, and The Independent will provide live updates.
What’s up with the team?
Left-back Ben Chilwell is still a long-time absentee for Chelsea, while winger Callum Hudson-Odoi has a few issues that could keep him here. A late return from international duty, American striker Christian Pulisic missed the defeat at Brentford but could feature tonight, while right-back Reece James is back in form.
Former Blue Eden Hazard will be out of Real Madrid’s front line due to recent surgery, while second-choice striker Luka Jovic is doubtful with an ankle problem.
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Havertz, Pulisic.
Real Madrid visits Chelsea in the first leg of the Champions League Quarterfinals. The main question surrounding the team’s lineup is whether or not coach Carlo Ancelotti will start Fede Valverde on the right wing.
Real Madrid predicted XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Valverde, Vinicius, Benzema.
Chelsea predicted XI: Mendy, Christensen, Silva, Rudiger, James, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Ziyech, Havertz.
Valverde’s presence in the right flank of Real Madrid’s midfield will help the team’s intensity and physicality, which will be needed against Chelsea. Casemiro, Kroos, and Modric will not be enough to stop Chelsea’s midfield. Carlo Ancelotti is probably aware that he will need another midfielder, not only tonight but also in the return leg.
That could hurt the team’s offensive production as Vinicius and Benzema might be too isolated most of the game. However, having a solid midfield should be a priority for Los Blancos.
The ex-Chelsea keeper was on hand to deny Christian Pulisic’s curling effort early on, pushing his shot around the post for a corner. Antonio Rudiger met the following set piece with a powerful header at the back post, but the ‘keeper scrambled across his line to make a fantastic reflex save.
Kai Havertz then almost found the lead when his volley toward the near post was hit with power, but the Belgian ‘keeper once again made a great save to keep the score level. The Blues’ frantic start slowly dropped off towards the end of the first half, with the scoreline 0-0 going into the break.
The Blues again started the second half on top, suffocating Los Blancos to their half. The pressure paid off four minutes after the restart, with Reece James finding the net.
Marcos Alonso started the move on the left, with the Spaniard linking up well with Pulisic on the byline before pulling a cross back to Kante on the edge of the box. Rather than shooting, the Frenchman opted to find James’ darting run forward on the right, and the full-back drilled his effort across the goal and into the far corner.
The Blues finally had their opening goal with plenty of the game remaining, but the home side started to gain more possession as the game wore on and slowed down the tempo, much to the annoyance of Chelsea. It was Real Madrid’s turn to attack as Chelsea struggled to regain control, and with 10 minutes remaining, Ancelotti’s side found themselves level on the night.