Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Chelsea – 2021/22

By: Mohammed Sahel

Last week’s win at the Bridge was just half the job done for Ancelotti and Co. If all goes well in tonight’s return game, the Merengues will earn themselves a well deserved ticket to the Champions League semi-finals. At the expense of Chelsea of course, who aren’t out of the tie yet but it will take some performance for the Blues to overturn a two goal deficit against the 13 time champions. 

A comfortable 2-0 win at the weekend ensured Real covered more ground in LaLiga. Karim Benzema didn’t continue his goalscoring streak but the team topped off a delightful collective display of control and authority. All in all, the initial signs are positive. Vinícius Júnior seems to have regained some sharpness, the midfield trio got some rest and no players were injured since the first-leg in London.

What to Expect: 

On the offset, the Londoners are weakened and have already given the hosts a foot and a half to the semis. That is, if you fall for Thomas Tuchel’s mind games at his press conferences. The German manager knew precisely what he was doing when he suggested that the tie was not on. Of course, an upset is never out of the question in the Champions League — not even at the Bernabéu. 

Chelsea will probably start the game on top, knowing that handing control of the game to Real Madrid would put them into the jaws of elimination. Tuchel will have designed his lineup so as to suit a high intensity style, attempting to run at Real Madrid rather than surrendering control to them. This means the likes of Kante, Pulisic, Havertz and James will be crucial to ball progression through midfield.

In all likelihood, Tuchel will stick to the game plan he played with on Saturday’s 6-0 victory against Southampton. Ancelotti on the other hand, put off quite the cautious approach in his press conference, as is typical of him as the season comes to a close. He mentioned just last week how he’d once lost a Champions League final from 3-0 up at half-time. All in all, anything is possible, especially in Europe.

Team News: 

Central defender Éder Militão is suspended. Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Isco Alarcon will all watch from the stands due to their respective injuries while Jesus Vallejo has tested positive for Covid. Uruguayan Federico Valverde will play from the right side of midfield once again, looking to fill the holes between Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos’ ball playing ability. 

Romelu Lukaku picked up an injury following last week’s game at Stamford Bridge and will therefore sit out tonight’s match. Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has recovered from Covid just in time for tonight’s game.

Expected Line-ups: 

Real Madrid:


Carvajal — Nacho — Alaba — Mendy

Modrić — Casemiro — Kroos

Valverde — Benzema — Vinícius

Chelsea FC:


Christensen — Silva — Rudiger 

James — Kanté — Kovačić — Alonso

Mount – Havertz — Pulisic

Player to Watch: 

Real Madrid: Federico Valverde. Keep an eye on the Uruguayan. He changed last week’s game and he will likely change tonight’s. Karim Benzema is expected to play well and even score, but that isn’t atypical for the Frenchman. Valverde however, will have to contribute doubly as much as he usually does. It’s a little like last year’s away game at Liverpool, playing him as an auxiliary right-back in a desperate situation shouldn’t be beyond logic.

Chelsea FC: Mason Mount. The Englishman is young, energetic, and deadly accurate with his final third release whether it be through passes, crosses or shots. Get him on the ball, and Thomas Tuchel’s team suddenly have a lot more possibilities ahead of them. Although with his tendency to drift out of position comes a risk of catching Chelsea’s midfield off guard. Kante and Kovacic (probably) have a some work to do.


Real Madrid 1-0 Chelsea

Real Madrid to kill the game off. Maybe not in style, but the situation Ancelotti’s men have put themselves in calls for a well managed game of football. Keeping their heads in the event that the away team grab a goal or two back will be something Ancelotti will remind the players of. Nothing’s guaranteed, but a decent enough game of football should see Los Blancos go through. That being said, it won’t be straightforward.

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