Real Madrid will host Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Tuesday night as the most successful Champions League team takes on the 2011/12 champions.
Los Blancos played out a frustrating 0-0 draw against Real Betis at the weekend, and they will be aiming to redeem themselves with a strong performance against the Blues.
Thomas Tuchel’s side boosted their top-four hopes on Saturday with a slender 1-0 win over West Ham United. The clubs will be facing each other for the first time since 1998.
The clubs have met each other on three occasions. The Blues have had the edge with two wins with the other game ending in a draw.
They previously met in the 1998 European Super Cup. Gus Poyet was the match-winner for the Blues as he scored the only goal in the 83rd minute.
Since the arrival of Tuchel in late January, the Blues have been exceptional at the back. They have kept 16 clean sheets in the 21 matches under the German. The players have been vocal about the improvement in management style and the Blues are slight betting favourites going into the tie.
In the same period of time, Los Blancos have managed nine shutouts from 18 outings. Four of those have come in the previous four games in all competitions.
Los Blancos could be without Lucas Vazquez and Ferland Mendy due to injuries while Federico Valverde has contracted coronavirus. Sergio Ramos has returned to training after his muscle tear and appears set to make the game.
The Premier League outfit don’t have any long-term injury concerns, but they may be without midfielder Mateo Kovacic. The Croatia international could miss a reunion with his former employers due to a hamstring injury.
Toni Kroos missed the stalemate against Betis with a muscle discomfort, but should make a comeback for Tuesday’s game. Ramos could also make a long-awaited return, but Eden Hazard may need to settle for a bench role against his former employers.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Nacho; Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric; Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior.
The visitors could welcome Reece James back to the starting XI. Cesar Azpilicueta started at right wing-back last weekend, but he appears set to return to the back three. There could be a solitary change in the attack with Kai Havertz replacing Christian Pulisic.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Edouard Mendy; Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Reece James, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Ben Chilwell; Mason Mount, Kai Havertz; Timo Werner.
The match will be played between two of Europe’s tightest defences, and it could be decided by the solitary goal. With home advantage, we fancy Los Blancos to edge the contest against the Blues, who have tended to squander clear-cut chances lately.
Real Madrid 1-0 Chelsea
Stats from Transfermarkt.com and 11v11.com
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