On Wednesday, the Santiago Bernabeu will be the setting for the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final between two recent winners of the coveted trophy, Real Madrid and Chelsea. Real’s coach, Carlo Ancelotti, who won the Champions League four times, will face his former club, while Chelsea managed to qualify by overcoming a first-leg deficit to beat Borussia Dortmund. Real Madrid have set their sights on adding to their trophy cabinet, with the Champions League being their main priority. In addition, they will also face Osasuna in the Copa del Rey final. Meanwhile, Chelsea aim to continue their impressive record against the defending champions and seek revenge for last year’s quarter-final.
Real Madrid enters this match after losing 3-2 to Villarreal at the weekend, giving Barcelona a chance to move 15 points clear at the top of the La Liga table. Even so, Ancelotti seems calm and collected, as shown in his previous game, where his team overcame a 2-0 deficit against Liverpool to win 6-2 on aggregate. Their focus is now on achieving their 15th Champions League title and making it four knockout victories over English teams in a row.
It’s uncommon to see a team in a Champions League quarter-final with a new coach who’s only had one game in charge, yet that’s the case for Chelsea this season as they prepare for their first-leg clash against Real Madrid on April 12th.
Despite Frank Lampard’s return to the club in an interim capacity, his team’s loss to Wolves 1-0 in the Premier League doesn’t bode well, making Real Madrid the clear favorites. Although it’s widely known that Carlo Ancelotti’s side tends to elevate their game in the Champions League, their recent impressive 4-0 victory over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey should not be overlooked.
Real Madrid has not failed to score at home in a Champions League game since 2018. Still, they have to face a Chelsea team that has not lost to the defending champions since the 2004-05 season. Chelsea has reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the third consecutive year, having produced one of their finest performances against Dortmund in the last round. However, they suffered a setback in the Premier League over the weekend against Wolverhampton Wanderers, losing 1-0 at home.
Real Madrid’s only injured player is Ferland Mendy, who is still recovering from a calf injury. Ancelotti rested several key players against Villarreal, so fans can expect Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Eder Militao, and Eduardo Camavinga to return to the starting line-up. Federico Valverde might also feature, despite allegedly punching Villarreal’s Alex Baena after their weekend’s game. On the other hand, Mason Mount is doubtful for Chelsea due to a recurring abdominal issue, while Armando Broja and Cesar Azpilicueta are still on the road to recovery.
The match promises to be exciting, as the two teams aim to take the first step towards reaching the Champions League semi-finals. It will be a chance for Chelsea to continue their impressive record against the defending champions and for Real Madrid to assert their dominance in European football.
Despite having a good record against Champions League winners, Chelsea’s streak of not losing to them is likely to end in a big way. Villarreal exposed weaknesses in Chelsea’s defense, showing that Ancelotti’s team is not impregnable. However, Real Madrid rested some of their top players over the weekend and should feel very confident of taking a comfortable lead in the first leg before their trip to Stamford Bridge next week.