Thirteen-time European champions, Real Madrid have never beaten one-time UEFA Champions League winner in a competitive match since their first meeting in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1971.
Though this looks absurd because Chelsea have met Barcelona 17 times in that same period. It is a reunion between old mates as both Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard now call Madrid home.
Real Madrid have been seriously injury-hit in the last two months but they arrive the last month of the season still chasing the biggest prizes while Thomas Tuchel has overseen a Chelsea metamorphosis that has seen them get 16 clean sheets from the 21 matches, he has managed.
Will pedigree count for something on Tuesday, or will these following duels determine the victor in the first leg of the semi-final?
Casemiro v Mason Mount
The man that links everything together for Real Madrid is Casemiro-defensive solidity with technical prowess in joining the attack and providing important goals. Mount’s primary responsibility on Tuesday will be to disrupt his rhythm and make him pass backward more than forwards while hoping to steal the ball off him in the last quarter, creating the chance for Chelsea to score.
Vinicius Junior v Reece James
Vinicius is the arrow that leads the counter-attack and he was the standout performer, alongside Toni Kroos, in their 3-1 win over Liverpool in the last round. Over the last three months, the young Brazilian has matured and will pose serious threats down Chelsea’s right flank where he will duel with another youngster, in James.
Karim Benzema v Thiago Silva
Benzema is the talisman of this side, coring and knitting moves together. Like the proverbial butterfly, he floats around the pitch looking for gaps to exploit, which is where the experience of the 36-year-old Brazilian will be needed by Thomas Tuchel.
Luka Modric v N’Golo Kante
The last time these two came up against each other was the 2018 FIFA World Cup final which France won 4-2. Modric is an intelligent player who defends and uses the ball in equal measure. But he could be fatigued on account of the many important matches he has had to play back-to-back. In Kante, he will find an indefatigable opponent who will run and tackle all day.
Current Form: Real Madrid [D-W-D-D-W]; Chelsea [W-D-W-L-W]
30/07/16 ICC Real Madrid 3 – 2 Chelsea
08/08/13 ICC Real Madrid 3 – 1 Chelsea
27/08/98 USC Real Madrid 0 – 1 Chelsea
19/05/71 UCW Real Madrid 1 – 1 Chelsea
21/05/71 UCW Real Madrid 1 – 2 Chelsea
What the managers are saying
“The present is the present. Chelsea are a side who’ve done their work in the Champions League and deserve to be in the semis, just as Real Madrid do, too. It’s going to be a tough, different game, and Chelsea are a side with plenty of experience at this level, too.” – Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid coach
“We should not expect crazy things from us, but the same again on the highest level. We have had tough matches, important matches, so we feel it is a good moment to play this match. We want to play hungry.” – Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea manager
Probable starting 11
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Militao, Nacho; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Vinicius, Benzema, Asensio
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell; Mount, Werner, Ziyech
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