3-1 first leg deficits: overturned. Two of the three: won.
“Impossible is nothing.”
I’ve written that twice in previews over the past decade, stealing the adidas tagline. In 2012, we overturned the debacle in Naples with perhaps the greatest European night in Stamford Bridge history. Two years later, we overturned a the debacle in Paris (against Thiago Silva!) with one of the greatest last-gasp goals ever seen at the Bridge. Dare to Demba. (We didn’t have this blog in 2004 when Ranieri’s Chelsea briefly overturned a the debacle in Monaco, taking a 2-0 lead ... for about three minutes.)
What makes today even more unique is that we have to overturn a 3-1 debacle away from Stamford Bridge — though the away goals rule has been abolished, so a 2-0 now would only get us to extra-time and penalties anyway.
Impossible is nothing.
Date / Time: Tuesday, April 12, 2012, 20.00 BST; 3pm EDT; 12:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Madrid, Spain
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (on pitch); Tomasz Kwiatkowski (VAR) — first Chelsea match for Marciniak, sixth Real Madrid match, including their 4-2 extra-time defeat to Atlético Madrid in the 2018 Super Cup. That’d do (to get us to penalties anyway).
Forecast: Perfect temperature and night for football
On TV: BT Sport 2 (UK); CBS, Univision, TUDN (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); SuperSport Football Plus, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); Paramount+, Univision Now, TUDNxtra (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Real Madrid team news: The one tangible difference from last week is the absence of Éder Militão through suspension. Meanwhile, backup center back Jesús Vallejo has tested positive for COVID-19 and will also miss out. Eden Hazard remains out following his latest surgery for a surgery.
Madrid won 2-0 on Saturday against Getafe, but seemingly had to put in a bit more effort than we had to against Southampton, with Karim Benzema, Casemiro, and Vinícius Junior not making way until the final 15 minutes. Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić did get the day off while Ferland Mendy was an enforced absence through a knock, from which he’s now recovered.
Carlo Ancelotti hasn’t lost a Champions League knockout tie after winning the first leg since 2003-04, when Deportivo La Coruña overturned a 4-1 (!) first leg deficit with a memorable 4-0 beatdown of a majestic AC Milan side.
View from the enemy: Managing Madrid
Chelsea team news: Captain César Azpilicueta’s back from his brief COVID quarantine, but Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Ross Barkley have all missed out on the trip. Maybe Ben Chilwell can host a watch party. Youngster Harvey Vale joined the traveling group to make up some numbers — good to see him back fit after a brief spell out.
If Thomas Tuchel has his way, Chelsea will be approaching this match fueled less so by hopes and dreams and prayers for a miracle, and more so by a sense of purpose, determination, and rejection of our preordained fate. There is only one thing we say to the football gods: ”not today”.
Previously: Plenty of inspiring highlights linked at the top; let us just take in some open practice instead.