If Chelsea were to overcome a two-goal deficit to Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) quarterfinal, they will need to put on one of their best-ever European performances. The team’s lackluster 2-1 loss to Brighton on Saturday was characterized by manager Frank Lampard as “not a Chelsea performance” during the weekend, which is not encouraging as they try to snap a streak of six consecutive defeats in competitive play (D2, L4).
As interim manager Lampard attempts to repeat Roberto Di Matteo’s accomplishment of 2011–12, they are trying to preserve their season with a run to UCL glory after last week’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabéu. He doesn’t need to go far in history for inspiration because even Graham Potter, his predecessor, oversaw Chelsea advance to the Round of 16 against Borussia Dortmund despite losing the first leg 1-0.
That should ensure Madrid, despite being in good shape after winning the first leg easily, travels without any signs of confidence. They were permitted to rest players against Cádiz on Saturday (W 2-0) because they appeared to be out of contention for a 36th La Liga championship. However, given that both Vincius Jnior and Toni Kroos missed games due to injuries, they might be concerned about their health.
Los Blancos have already triumphed in three of their previous four encounters with English clubs outside of Spain (L1), including last season’s 3-1 success here, with last month’s incredible 5-2 victory over Liverpool still fresh in their minds. Since the defending champions have scored in each of their last seven UCL games played abroad (W4, D1, L2), don’t expect them to hold back.
Only Lionel Messi has scored more UCL goals against English clubs than Karim Benzema (20), who scored four goals in Madrid’s last three European games. Although Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has kept a clean sheet against Madrid, it will be difficult for him to do so again this time around.
Ben Chilwell’s straight red card for a last-man foul on Rodrygo forced Chelsea to play the final 30 minutes of the first leg with just 10 players. The left-back will serve his punishment on Tuesday, which almost certainly means Marc Cucurella will get the nod at left back.
With the hamstring injury he sustained at the Bernabeu, Kalidou Koulibaly will be out for “a matter of weeks,” joining Armando Broja (knee), while Kai Havertz (knee), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back), and Carney Chukwuemeka (knock), who will all need to be evaluated over the next 48 hours, have all trained in preparation for this match.
With the second leg in mind, Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante were left out of the team to play Brighton. Reece James, Joao Felix, and Mateo Kovacic should also be called up. Noni Madueke, David Datro Fofana, Benoit Badiashile, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all ineligible.
As a result of scrapes and bruises, Real Madrid manager Ancelotti was also without a few key players for the weekend. Vinicius Junior, Toni Kroos, and Ferland Mendy were all sidelined due to muscular overload.
Mendy won’t be making his comeback this week, but Kroos and Vinicius should be fine following their precautionary absences, so Asensio’s reward for his recent goal-scoring prowess should be a bench promotion.
In contrast, Fernandez’s goal at the weekend might cause Ancelotti some second-guessing, but as it was in the win last week, Eduardo Camavinga’s fresh legs could be used at left-back.
Chelsea possible starting lineup
Kepa, James, Fofana, Silva, Cucurella, E. Fernandez, Kante, Kovacic, Mudryk, Havertz, and Felix.
Real Madrid possible starting lineup
Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Camavinga, Modric, Valverde, Kroos, Rodrygo, Benzema and Vinicius Jr.
We predict: Chelsea 1-2 Real Madrid (Real Madrid prevails 4-1 overall)
The Chelsea supporters would do well to take a page out of Liverpool’s book and generate a loud Stamford Bridge environment, although such tactics are unlikely to intimidate Ancelotti’s crop after seeing Real Madrid’s defenders succumb to an early capitulation at Anfield.
Lampard’s team might perhaps make the net shake with a gung-ho approach, but an almost fully rested Real Madrid should go to the final four and dash the Blues’ dreams of capping a difficult season on a positive note on the continent.