A place in the Champions League final is on the line as Chelsea host Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.
The semi-final tie is nicely poised after a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Madrid, when Karim Benzema’s sharp finish cancelled out Christian Pulisic’s opener, though Thomas Tuchel was left to rue a number of missed chances.
Tuchel’s men are looking to reach the biggest game in European club football for the third time, and hoping to replicate their 2012 success, when a mid-season change of manager proved a catalyst for European glory.
Madrid, meanwhile, are seeking a remarkable 14th title, which would mean they had won the trophy twice as many times as any other club in Europe, with AC Milan boasting seven wins.
Form Guide: Chelsea
Chelsea will go to this game on the back of a 2-0 win over Fulham in the Premier League, another great result under manager Thomas Tuchel. It was a fifth unbeaten outing and a fourth clean sheet in five matches for the Blues but even more crucially, a first time in six matches that they’ve scored more than a goal. They haven’t won the last two Champions League matches but neither of them left Chelsea in a bad position as far as their progress in the competition is concerned. In the 11 matches in the Champions League this season, Chelsea have lost just once – against Porto, but then they still advanced despite the loss. They need just a 0-0 draw to advance and having managed seven clean sheets in their Champions League matches this season, they’ll be confident going here.
Form Guide: Real Madrid
Real Madrid are also heading to this game on the back of a win, having beaten Osasuna 2-0 in La Liga. Theirs was more labored than Chelsea’s win against Fulham. The fact that the two goals came in the last 14 minutes points to the struggle Real Madrid had trying to break down Osasuna. It was the second time in six matches that they managed to score two or more goals. That will not be much of a bother here, they can still advance even with scoring just a goal. The big concern here is that Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane are out injured yet again, leaving Real exposed at the back. However, reports that Sergio Ramos could make the trip to England is a massive boost, while Toni Kroos and Luca Modric are expected starters after sitting on the bench for the whole game against Osasuna. Just like Chelsea, Real haven’t won their last two matches in this competition; both ending in draws. However, they are unbeaten in six Champions League games, with three clean sheets and failed to score in one.
How the match could go
Everyone says advantage Chelsea but it is only on paper. This tie will be largely decided by an early goal and more particularly, who scores it. Real Madrid grabbing a goal first nullifies any advantage and an early goal for Chelsea also makes things interesting. Chelsea can qualify with a 0-0 draw and we would have to see whether Thomas Tuchel decides to hang on to their ‘away-goal’ or start the game in an attacking sense like they did last week.
Tip: Real Madrid win or draw
Real Madrid have a good record against Chelsea and have won two out of three games played between the two teams. Chelsea have never defeated Real Madrid in an official fixture and will look to make history on Wednesday. Admittedly, Chelsea have looked the better side than Real Madrid in recent games but we’re backing the Spanish side regardless because of their experience. Zidane knows way too much about winning the Champions League and the same applies to his players. It begs the question of what kind of draw though. A 0-0 score-line means Chelsea will advance to the finals. However, we’re backing Real Madrid to not avoid defeat at least. Bet9ja and Bet365 have 1.61 odds while 1xbet have 1.72.
Over 2.5 Goals
We beg to differ with the general populace once again. Based on stats between both sides and the result from the first leg, it’s easy to see why everyone expects another low-scoring affair. However, even the first leg could have been different if Timo Werner bagged his chances. This time around, we expect both sides to bring in their A-game and also get on the score-sheet. It could then be a case of who outscores the other. Bet9ja and Bet365 have 2.10 odds while 1xbet have 2.22.
Both teams to score: YES
The stats might say otherwise. Thibaut Courtois has allowed just one goal in the last six matches, with it coming in the previous clash with Chelsea. Only one of Los Blancos last five games resulted in over 2.5 goals and also one witnessed goals at both ends. However, there is a lot at stake coming into this tie. Real Madrid know they need an away goal and will likely be on the front foot early on. Chelsea will also be searching for a goal to effectively kill off the tie and that could see goals at both ends this time around. Bet9ja have 1.83 odds, Bet365 have 1.90 and 1xbet have 1.95.
Anytime Goal-scorer (Chelsea)
The American gave Chelsea a precious away goal last time out and is expected to start once again today. His pace and movement with Timo Werner caused the Real Madrid defence some problems and the Blues could be looking to exploit that once again, especially with Los Blancos missing some key men at the back. It’s rather difficult to predict who scores for Chelsea these days but he could come as a smart choice today. Bet365 have 3.25 odds for him to score while Bet9ja have 4.00.
The German is gradually starting to show his worth for the Blues with three goals in his last three games. Last time out against Fulham at the weekend, he bagged a brace and was very close to scoring his second hat-trick for the club. Based on current form, Tuchel could be tempted to start his compatriot once again and the player would equally want to deliver on the faith shown in him. Bet365 have 3.50 odds while Bet9ja have 4.00.
Anytime Goal-scorer (Real Madrid)
The Frenchman is the club’s top scorer once again, just as he has been each year since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. After his excellent goal in the first leg, he could make another impact. With an away goal, it’s fair to put Chelsea as the favourites. However, one goal from Real and the odds suddenly change drastically. With Benzema in exceptional form this season, we are backing him to score and Real to advance and win on the night. Bet365 have 2.50 odds while Bet9ja have 3.00.
In recent weeks, the Brazilian has stepped up his game and has also come up with some goals to go with. With Real Madrid in search of a goal, he could come as another great option to get on the score-sheet. He recently showed his worth against Barcelona in the El Clasico and he could yet raise his game today to help his side advance further. Bet365 have 3.75 odds while Bet9ja have 5.00.
Football Lover. All-round junkie of the beautiful game. Could be found watching football most of the time. If not he’s writing about them or making some punditry you don’t agree with. A certain bias for Arsenal and Santos FC.