Chelsea face Real Madrid in the second leg of an evenly poised Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
The Blues came away with a 1-1 draw from Madrid last week. And while it was disappointing not to head into the second leg with a win having scored first, grabbing an away goal was key in gaining the ever so slight advantage over the competition’s most successful side.
Real have endured a stop-start season with injuries and inconsistencies plaguing them, but have shown grit and experience to battle their way to the last four despite barely resembling the side they were in the 2010s.
90min previews what is set up to be a very even and unpredictable contest.
When is kick-off? Wednesday 5 May – 20:00 (BST)
Where is it played? Stamford Bridge
How to watch on TV in UK and US? BT Sport 2 (UK), FuboTV (US)
Referee? Daniele Orsato
VAR? Massimiliano Irrati
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Midfielder Mateo Kovacic missed out Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Fulham at the weekend with a thigh issue which leaves head coach Thomas Tuchel making a decision on his availability at the death.
Antonio Rudiger also missed out having picked up an injury in the first leg against Real, but could be fit in time for Wednesday’s second leg provided he plays with a facial mask. N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Christian Pulisic all started on the bench on Saturday with on eye on the midweek clash.
Kai Havertz bagged a brace in the win which could throw him into contention.
Raphael Varane has been ruled out of the game having been forced off at half-time at the weekend with a thigh injury.
Fellow centre-back Sergio Ramos has been in the wars and missed out against Osasuna on Saturday, but is expected to return for this crucial tie. Federico Valverde missed the first leg having returned a positive test for COVID-19 and is awaiting results to see if he can test negative in time to feature on Wednesday.
Ferland Mendy has suffered a calf problem but has been training, while injuries to Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vasquez leave Real short of options in the right-back position. Eden Hazard played 72 minutes at the weekend, however, as he continues to find fitness.
Chelsea: Mendy; Rudiger, Christensen, Silva; Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell; Mount, Pulisic, Havertz
Real Madrid: Courtois; Odriozola, Militao, Ramos, Nacho; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric, Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
While experience can often be the catalyst even when a club is clearly not at their best, Zinedine Zidane’s side are looking seriously stretched as the season comes to a close.
They remain locked in a title fight for La Liga and still have a very good chance of winning the Champions League, but with the squad dropping like flies, things aren’t looking sustainable.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have galvanised entirely under Tuchel who took Paris Saint-Germain to the final last season, but fell at the final hurdle. The Blues have a strong squad littered with depth and have lost just once in their last ten fixtures.
If there is ever a chance for Chelsea to knock out Real Madrid and reach the Champions League final, this has to be the year.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Real Madrid