A game that practically needs no introduction.
Second leg, all to play for.
To the winner, a place in the Champions League final against Manchester City. To the loser, a whole lot of nothing. A 0-0 draw favors Chelsea thanks to our away goal from last week. A 1-1 draw means extra time and possibly penalties. Any other draw favors Real Madrid.
Keep a clean sheet, and we’re through.
Clear eyes. Full hearts.
Date / Time: Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 20.00 BST; 3pm EDT; 12:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Daniele Orsato (on pitch); Massimiliano Irrati (VAR)
Forecast: Cool and breezy, chance of hail
On TV: BT Sport 2 (UK); CBS Sports Network, Univision, TUDN (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); SuperSport Máximo 1, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); Paramount+, Univision Now (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA) — CBS All Access is now called Paramount+, which is the same not-great thing but we have a sparkly new affiliate link for it, which makes it a tiny per cent better. We also have a Fubo TV affiliate link, if you’re so inclined.
Chelsea team news: Mateo Kovačić remains out after re-aggravating his hamstring just when it looked like he might be making his return. Fortunately, over the weekend, Tuchel made a bold rotational move in the center, deploying Billy Gilmour, giving N’Golo Kanté and Jorginho ample rest with this match in mind. Kanté especially has been bringing his world class best on European nights as of late, and will need to do so once again.
Antonio Rüdiger was also rested, more out of precaution than anything, over the weekend and he should be available, though with a protective mask. He’s been key to Chelsea’s supremely impressive defensive record under Tuchel (17 clean sheets in 23 games), just as Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, and César Azpilicueta have been — with the latter expected to start at wing-back once again.
Tuchel made a game-time tactical decision last week to drop Mason Mount deeper in midfield in response to Real’s starting lineup, but Zidane abandoned the (probably) foolish idea of trying to match Chelsea’s formation after a while and play to his team’s strengths instead, which led to a much more defensive and tense second half. We can probably expect something similar today, though Mount’s versatility means that we can always adjust on the fly.
Real Madrid team news: Real are a fair bit healthier than last week, and welcome back Sergio Ramos, Ferland Mendy, and Fede Valverde — the first two from injuries, the latter from COVID protocol. They will however be without Raphaël Varane, who started the first leg; though it was Éder Militão who was the key to Real not conceding a hatful of goals when Chelsea came out of the blocks like a house on fire.
Chelsea also won the midfield battle for large stretches of the first leg, with Kanté and Mount shutting down Modrić and Kroos. Doing that twice in eight days won’t be simple however. And up front, Eden Hazard is a week healthier while Karim Benzema already showed that he can single-handedly win a game or decide an outcome.
Meanwhile, Snakey McSnakerson reminded everyone already of just how good of a goalkeeper he is with his save on Timo Werner’s chance, and we probably shouldn’t mention that the last time we contested a Champions League semifinal second leg at the Bridge, against a team from Madrid, Courtoisssss also made a ridiculous save that proved to be a turning point in Chelsea’s 3-1 home defeat and elimination at the last hurdle.
Not today, Snakey!
View from the enemy: Managing Madrid
Previously: Our first ever meeting in the Champions League or European Cup ended in a frustrating 1-1 draw, which felt like a missed opportunity. But there’s no point in dwelling on that; 90 minutes to destiny!