The weekend’s 4-1 defeat to Brentford was a tough one to take, but Chelsea must dust themselves down quickly as it’s straight back to it on Wednesday night as the Blues take on Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. The Blues emerged victorious when the two sides met in the competition last year but there’s no doubt that this will be a tight and hotly contested match of football.
This will be one of the biggest games of the season for both sides although perhaps there is more expectation on Real this year. They sit comfortably top of La Liga, yet there are murmurings surrounding the future of boss Carlo Ancelotti. It feels like they need a good run in the Champions League this year or there could be yet another managerial change for Los Blancos.
Going into the match, Chelsea have a relatively clean bill of health. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell haven’t been involved thanks to injury but everyone else trained, meaning Thomas Tuchel can pick nearly his strongest team.
For Real, they will be without Eden Hazard, who is not fit enough to face his former team and Luka Jovic is also injured. Another key absentee will be manager Carlo Ancelotti, who tested positive for COVID-19 recently. He will likely be replaced on the touchline by his son and assistant manager, Davide Ancelotti.
This will be a tough match and the Spaniards will be out for revenge, but Thomas Tuchel’s side are strong in Europe and have shown they can beat anyone. With away goals no longer in effect, it will be more important than ever for the Stamford Bridge team to get a good home result and set themselves up for a comfortable second leg.
Ahead of the match, some of the writers at The Chelsea Social have shared their match predictions.
Can Real Madrid cause an upset or will Chelsea reign supreme?…
Luka Foley (@UOGLuka)
The Champions League is finally back and Chelsea find themselves playing the team who they faced in the semi finals last year, Real Madrid. Despite the loss to Brentford on Saturday, its hard to say that that result was anything other than a freak one and it should really not affect the confidence coming into this game.
I expect it to be a much more competitive tie than last year’s, with Real currently sitting pretty at the top of La Liga and our Champions League form of late impressive.
Everyone bar Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi looks to be available for selection so Thomas Tuchel has more or less a full squad of players to choose from and because of that, I think we’ve got more than enough to turn the first leg in our favour and set us up nicely for the second.
I can see us winning 2-0, Kai Havertz and Cesar Azpilicueta the scorers.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Real Madrid
Maria Dulce (@usernamedulce)
It is time to bounce back after the tragic loss at the weekend against Brentford, as we now return to the biggest stage in Europe. This will be an opportunity for Chelsea to gain an advantage while there is home support and then perform defensively at the Bernabeu next week.
The team needs to win. Yes, there are several challenges, starting with the opposition’s elite attack duo of Benzema and Vinicius Junior. A top priority is for the defense to neutralize both of them, and the most effective way for that could be implementing a familiar back-three and lining up Reece James at wing-back again. Additionally, in attack, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic have a great Champions League chemistry history in the final third, and it would be crucial for them to combine their strengths to find Madrid’s defensive loopholes.
Moreover, the team needs humility and should not underestimate Madrid. Must-do’s are driving the ball forward nonstop and preventing giving up possession at all costs. Hopefully, the story from last year will repeat itself, and the Blues will remain invincible against Real.
My prediction is a narrow Chelsea win. Up the Chels!
Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Real Madrid
Chelsea Extra (@CFCExtra)
It’s a bit strange to be playing such an enormous game in our season so soon after the international break but it’s important that we’re ready for it.
We dealt with Real comfortably last season in the Champions League but I think they will be a much more difficult opposition this time around. For starters, they now have a squad that is fully fit and some more athletic options available to them. Also, they are in much better form domestically and are top of La Liga.
I can see this game being won or lost in the midfield. If Madrid go for the experience of Modric, Kroos and Casemiro then I think we’ll be able to press, outrun and counter attack them successfully, although if they opt for Camavinga or Valverde then it could be more difficult. Kante and Jorginho haven’t really shown the levels this season that they did in last season’s Champions League run so hopefully they can step up and give an elite performance.
I’m hoping to see us come out and look confident, as I feel the team that scores first in this tie will have a good chance of progressing to the semi-finals. I predict a narrow 2-1 win with goals from Kai Havertz and a Jorginho penalty.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Real Madrid
Written by Chelsea Extra (@CFCExtra)
Edited by Luka Foley (@UOGLuka)
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