Chelsea return to Champions League action this week as they take on Real Madrid in the first leg of their daunting quarter-final tie. The Blues faced Los Blancos in the semi-finals last year and prevailed.They went on to win the Champions League against Manchester City in the finals.
Thomas Tuchel & co. will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around.
Chelsea could comfortably defeat Real Madrid in the Champions League
The Blues may have had a bit of a shocker against Brentford in the Premier League at the weekend but will hope that is nothing more than a blip. The two-time Champions League winners have been incredible in knockout competitions since Tuchel took charge 15 months ago. Their performances in the big games have also been brilliant but they will need their top players to step up against Real Madrid.
On that note, let’s take a look at how Chelsea could line-up against Los Blancos in the Champions League.
GK- Edouard Mendy
Edouard Mendy was a huge reason why Chelsea won the Champions League last year and he has not lost his golden touch this term either.
The Senegalese played a crucial role in helping his nation win the AFCON trophy and qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. His domestic form has been just as good, despite Brentford’s recent 4-1 battering.
The African ace is impeccable in the Champions League and will be looking to keep a clean sheet against Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.
CB- Cesar Azpilicueta
The Chelsea captain recently saw his contract extended by the club. He will be keen to show why the Stamford Bridge outfit are determined to keep him in West London.
A true leader, Azpilicueta is one of the most consistent players for the club, especially in knockout competitions. He is an expert operator in the big games and specializes in 1v1s against the best players in the world. On top of all this, his versatility often helps out Tuchel tinker with the formation to confuse the opponent.
So it would be no surprise if the Spaniard produces another standout performance in the quarter-finals against Real Madrid.
CB- Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva is one of the finest players in the game despite his aging body. He is almost certain to start against Los Blancos in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Brazilian ace is calm with and without the ball, which has helped Chelsea quite a bit this season. His surprising burst of pace is also a delightful asset, while his threat from offensive set-pieces is a cherry on the cake.
The South American ace was sensational against the 13-time European champions last season and will be hoping to replicate a similar performance this time around.
CB- Antonio Rudiger
Antonio Rudiger may leave Chelsea in the summer but his performances show why the club should keep him beyond this season. His most recent strike against Brentford was evidence of the same.
One of the most rugged and aggressive defenders in the game, Rudiger could be a game-changer for the Blues on his day. His passing range, coupled with his tactical nous at the back, ensures that the team thrives from back to front.
Real Madrid possess one of the best frontlines in world football but Rudiger will be up for the task, given his pedigree and recent form.
#RWB- Reece James
Reece James has struggled with injuries this season but remains the chief creator of the Blues and an important player in knockout competitions.
The Englishman is an able crosser of the ball and a master at set-pieces. James’ best asset would be the way he manages his defensive responsibilities and his attacking duties.
Real Madrid are vulnerable defensively, especially in their full-back roles. James could be selected to exploit that weakness and tear apart the runaway La Liga champions.
LWB- Marcos Alonso
Ben Chilwell’s injury in November has meant that Marcos Alonso has had to deputize for over 4 months now. But the Spanish ace has done a decent job so far, apart from a forgettable afternoon against Brentford at the weekend.
A real threat going forward, Alonso has the experience to hurt the best teams in the world. While he can be a defensive burden at times, Tuchel might want him to play a more reserved role in the quarter-finals, especially in the first leg.
The wing-back can do more than a fine job in the big games. Thomas Tuchel will trust him to do the same in the upcoming tie against Real Madrid.
CM- Mateo Kovacic
Tuchel recently described Mateo Kovacic as a “wonderkid.” The Croatian has justified the same this season through his scintillating displays for Chelsea.
One of the best central midfielders in the Premier League at the moment, Kovacic can do it all. His defensive work is superb, while his ball progression is just as good. He can pick the right pass between the lines and also control the tempo of the game.
Kovacic, a former Real Madrid star, will be hoping to get back at his former club by knocking them out in the Champions League quarter-finals.
CM- N’Golo Kante
N’Golo Kante is arguably the best defensive midfielder around. He has previously shown his quality at the highest level of the game.
The Frenchman’s stamina enables Chelsea to play at a high tempo at all times, while helping in retaining the ball as soon as they lose possession. Over the last couple of years, Kante has also excelled in carrying the ball long distances before playing the telling pass for a potential goal.
Kante was the Man of the Match in both legs of last season’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid. The all-action midfielder will be keen to win the same accolade this year as well by helping his side edge their Spanish opposition.
RW- Mason Mount
Mason Mount is the only Chelsea player this season who has at least 20 goal contributions across all competitions.
The Cobham academy star has come through for his side this season and has performed well in the cup competitions too. His eye for a pass, coupled with his work-rate off the ball and incessant pressing, proved useful in the semi-finals last season. The Englishman also managed to score the last goal of the tie which saw the Blues eliminate the Spanish giants.
Mount will be crucial in the upcoming quarter-finals too as Chelsea look to try their luck once again in the Champions League.
LW- Christian Pulisic
Christian Pulisic may only have 6 goals and 4 assists to his name this season, but the American’s strikes have come at timely moments.
Moreover, he opened the scoring in the first leg against Real Madrid last year and Tuchel will be counting on his winger to do so again this term. Pulisic is quick, slick and is efficient in front of goal. He is also an able runner behind opposition defenses. His dribbling skills made life hard for the Spanish side’s midfield last season.
Pulisic will be integral to his side in the upcoming Champions League tie and the Blues will be hoping for big things from the American.
ST- Kai Havertz
Kai Havertz has been the man for a big occasion for the Blues over the last year or so. The German has a knack for scoring on important occasions and it rarely gets bigger than playing against Real Madrid.
While Romelu Lukaku was signed last summer to solve the no.9 problem, Havertz has been better for the reigning European champions this season. He can contribute in the build-up play and set up his teammates, while also finding dangerous areas in and around the penalty box to score goals.
Havertz hit the post twice in last year’s semi-final against Real Madrid but will be hoping to find the back of the net this season.