The Champions League has reached the semi-final stage and Thomas Tuchel leads his side against Zinedine Zidane, hoping Chelsea can overcome Real Madrid in much the same way as they did against Manchester City recently in a domestic cup.
Man City were the favourites there, but Chelsea showed great defensive resilience and a predatory counter-attacking ability; much the same might be required to go through over two legs against the Spanish giants.
Real, of course, have the weight of historical success and expectation behind them – but they haven’t been at their very best this term, even if they do seem to save their top performances for the biggest occasions.
Eden Hazard’s timely return from injury could see him face his former side, while the Blues will be hoping the return to prominence of Timo Werner will instead give them the edge in attack.
Real could yet win the title in LaLiga, though it’s more likely neither team ends the season as domestic champions; as such, it’s all-or-nothing for European glory and there’s no margin for error in the final four.
PSG or Man City will await in the final, but first it’s set to be two titanic tussles with both Real and Chelsea sure to be optimistic about their chances of reaching Istanbul.
‘We don’t need a miracle’
Chelsea boss, Thomas Tuchel, spoke with BT Sport before the start of tonight’s semi-final, touching on Chelsea’s approach to the match and how they’ll handle Real Madrid. He said:
Michael Jones27 April 2021 19:51
Michael Jones27 April 2021 19:46
Chasing the record
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has conceded just two goals in his first nine Champions League appearances – the record for fewest goals conceded in a goalkeeper’s first 10 matches is two, set by Keylor Navas between 2014 and 2016 for Real Madrid.
Michael Jones27 April 2021 19:44
Hakim Ziyech vs Real Madrid
Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech has been directly involved in six goals in seven Champions League starts in the knockout stage with four goals and two assists. He scored in his first two such appearances against Real Madrid, for Ajax in the 2018/19 last 16. The last player to score in their first three games against Real Madrid in the Champions League was Lucio between 2002-07.
Michael Jones27 April 2021 19:41
Florentino Perez ‘in his own world’
Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Perez, was the most outspoken supporter for the ill-fated Super League, claiming the proposed competition would ‘save football’. Even with the seeming demise of the Super League Perez remains steadfast in his beliefs that the competition is the only way to go:
Michael Jones27 April 2021 19:37
Zinedine Zidane and Thomas Tuchel are two of only 24 managers to have managed 15 or more Champions League matches in the knockout stages.
Zidane has the joint-best win ratio, alongside Luis Enrique, of these managers at 67%, with 18 victories from 27 matches, while Chelsea boss Tuchel has the seventh-best percentage at 53%, eight wins from 15.
Thomas Tuchel has faced Real Madrid more often without losing in the Champions League than against any other opponent with one win and three draws. In the competition’s history, the only other manager to face Los Blancos as many as four times without losing is Gerard Houllier, two wins, two draws.
Michael Jones27 April 2021 19:32
Chelsea’s semi-final stats
Chelsea are set to play in their eighth Champions League semi-final, the most of any English club, while this is Real Madrid’s 14th semi-final which is two more than any other side.
The Blues have only lost the first leg in one of their seven previous Champions League semi-finals, a 3-1 defeat to Monaco in 2003/04. The first legs of their last six semi-finals – all in which they were unbeaten – have seen just four goals scored with three for and one conceded.
Michael Jones27 April 2021 19:28
Real Madrid have never beaten Chelsea
Real Madrid have faced Chelsea more often than any other side in all competitions without winning in their entire history. They faced each in the 1971 Cup Winners’ Cup final which ended 1-1 in the first game and 2-1 to Chelsea in the replay. Then they met in the 1998 Uefa Super Cup final which finished 1-0 to Chelsea.
This will be the 163rd Uefa Champions League match between English and Spanish teams, the most of any two nations. English teams have won four of their last seven against Spanish opponents, with two draws and one loss, twice as many as in their previous 20 against them.
Michael Jones27 April 2021 19:24
Thomas Tuchel on Chelsea’s approach
Michael Jones27 April 2021 19:17
Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane on Chelsea
Michael Jones27 April 2021 19:13