Chelsea are back in action in the Champions League, as they play host to Real Madrid in a blockbuster semifinal second leg encounter at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. Here’s all you need to know – especially about Chelsea – ahead of the game.
The first leg was played last week Tuesday at the Alfredo do Stefano stadium, the temporary home of Real Madrid. At the end of the day, Chelsea were left with a bittersweet feeling as they were held to a 1-1 draw. Sweet because they came away without any deficit and grabbed a vital away goal, but bitter because they could’ve scored more than just one goal.
The Blues thoroughly outplayed Los Blancos for the first 20-25 minutes but asides Pulisic’s well taken opener, they had – and missed – a number of chances, with Timo Werner the biggest culprit. Karim Benzema eventually equalized, and both sided held out for the 1-1 draw.
Both teams are seemingly in good form, as they both won their games in their respective leagues during the weekend.
Kai Havertz scored a brace to give Chelsea a 2-0 win over Fulham in a West London derby, consolidating Chelsea’s place in the top four. Meanwhile, Eder Militao scored his first league goal and Casemiro added a second to give Real Madrid a 2-0 win over Osasuna, sustaining their push for the title.
Thomas Tuchel had provided some injury updates before and after the game against Fulham. Two players, Antonio Rudiger and Mateo Kovacic were both absent for the game due to injury. Rudiger’s case is very minor, and Tuchel confirmed that he is in line to start on Wednesday with a mask on. As for Kovacic, he’s been injured for the last three weeks and was expected to make his return against Fulham, but suffered a setback before the game. Nonetheless, there is a possibility that he makes the team.
For Real Madrid, they will be boosted by the return of captain Sergio Ramos. However they will be without Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vasquez, while Raphael Varane had a minor issue in the game against Osasuna, but Zidane says he should be fine. Federico Valverde is a doubt, but could play.
Tuchel’s best formation and lineup
Now, to focus on Tuchel and Chelsea. Tuchel made a slight tactical change for the game against Fulham, deploying youngster Billy Gilmour as a lone DM in front of a three man defence. The back three should remain for this game, but expect the boss to revert to a double pivot for the clash against Zinedine Zidane’s side.
Jorginho and N’golo Kante are both well rested and should occupy the two slots in central midfield, in front of a back three of Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, with Reece James and Ben Chilwell as Wingbacks.
The front three has the biggest dilemma, but Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount must both start. Pulisic provides a lot with his pace and dribbling, while Mount is a livewire, vital to Tuchel’s pressing system and also provides creativity. The false nine position could be taken by either Havertz or Timo Werner, but I would personally prefer Werner. Though Havertz has proven to be more clinical, he could struggle against Madrid’s physical back line, especially with the return of Sergio Ramos. Werner meanwhile can stretch Madrid’s defence and prevent them from pressing as much as they would like thanks to his pace, which can in turn lead to chances. He is better suited for the game.
In short, the lineup should look something like this:
I believe this is the best possible lineup Tuchel can roll out against Zinedine Zidane’s charges in the second leg clash on Wednesday. Anyways anything could happen between now and then, so let’s see how it goes. But if Tuchel starts with this team, I am extremely confident of Chelsea’s chances of making the final.