Chelsea vs Real Madrid will meet in the last eight of this year’s Champions League in a rematch of the 2020-21 semi-finals, with the first leg taking place at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
Thomas Tuchel’s side defeated Lille 4-1 on aggregate to advance to the quarterfinals, while Carlo Ancelotti’s side stunned Paris Saint-Germain with an incredible comeback.
The ongoing ambiguity surrounding Chelsea’s ownership situation isn’t helping the Champions League champions.
But their title defense is going well so far, with a disappointing Lille team no match for their English counterparts in the knockout stages.
Chelsea had already qualified for the last eight after a 2-0 win over Les Dogues on home soil before traveling to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
where Burak Yilmaz’s penalty gave Lille a glimmer of hope before Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta promptly put an end to the Dogues’ hopes.
Chelsea had done an excellent job of focusing on their on-field efforts up until the weekend.
However, Tuchel was at a loss to explain his side’s capitulation against Brentford, who ran out 4-1 winners at Stamford Bridge, leaving the home crowd stunned.
Although seeing their six-game unbeaten run in all competitions come to an end in such a bitterly disappointing manner is not what the doctor ordered ahead of a meeting with Real Madrid.
The Blues have not been knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals since the 2010-11 season when they lost to Manchester United.
The Blues’ defense was penetrated at will by Brentford at the weekend, but Tuchel’s team comes into the first leg having won each of their past five Champions League home games.
With five clean sheets, the first of which came against their Spanish capital opponents.
PSG’s tendency for apparently impossible Champions League collapses has defined their European aspirations in recent seasons.
Real Madrid became the latest team to further frustrate Les Parisiens with an incredible comeback in front of the Santiago Bernabeu crowd.
Kylian Mbappe’s second audition, ahead of an expected summer move to Real Madrid, started well with the opening goal to put his side 2-0 up on aggregate.
However, fellow prolific Frenchman Karim Benzema’s timeless qualities shone through, as the 34-year-old took advantage of PSG’s defensive lapses to net a quickfire hat-trick and keep Real’s Champions League dream alive.
On paper, a team with 13 European titles thrashing a PSG club still looking for their first Champions League title was an obvious result.
Meanwhile, no one could have predicted the drama that unfolded in Madrid before Real was dragged crashing back down to earth.
After being humiliated 4-0 by Barcelona in El Clasico, Real was far from their best against Celta Vigo at the weekend.
However, a pair of Benzema penalties eventually took them over the line for their sixth win in seven games.
Los Blancos’ triumph at Celta is their third in a row on the road.
They were defeated 2-0 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season after a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, but the Blues will face a more difficult challenge this year.
Chelsea will have most, if not all, of their big-hitters available for the first leg of their quarter-final.
Although Ben Chilwell is out for the foreseeable future and Callum Hudson-Odoi has a back problem as well as a strained Achilles.
Christian Pulisic made a late return from international duty and did not play against Brentford.
Meanwhile, the USA international is set to start here, putting Timo Werner’s position on the left in jeopardy.
Tuchel is expected to contemplate switching to a three-man central defense when Reece James returns to fitness.
while Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic will also want to replace Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will miss the second leg if he is booked here.
Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard will miss out on a reunion with his previous club after undergoing a fibular plate operation, while backup striker Luka Jovic and Isco will also be missing.
Ancelotti is otherwise well-equipped for the first leg, though Eder Militao will miss the return game if he is cautioned
And only one change might be made on the visitors’ side, with Dani Carvajal possibly replacing Lucas Vazquez at right-back.
With his hat trick against PSG, Benzema has already scored eight Champions League goals this season, and one more would set a new record for French players in a single season.
Chelsea Starting XI
Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Havertz, Pulisic
Real Madrid Starting XI
Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Junior
The match between Chelsea vs Real Madrid will kick off this evening at exactly 20.00 UK and 8.00 pm African time at Stanford stadium