Two of the so-called “Super League” clubs go into their semi-final, first leg match in Madrid tonight with one eye on the real big prize in club football – the Uefa Champions League trophy.
Real Madrid are one of the most pedigreed franchises in world sport and have won the Champions League (formerly European Cup) a remarkable 13 times. They’re in another shootout for Spain’s La Liga title, which they’ve won 34 times and they go into the semi-final unbeaten in their last 17 games.
In the other corner are England’s Chelsea, who are the outsiders among the last four remaining club in the competition.
Make no mistake, they’re a good team with a proud history – six time winners of the English top flight league and once Champion League winners – but there are many who feel that this two-legged semi-final could be a case of putting a Ferrari against a Golf GTi.
It’s hard to see Chelsea winning at the empty Alfredo Di Stefano stadium tonight and one needs to be reminded that when Liverpool went there for their quarter-final first leg they were beaten 3-1. Such a result tonight would give Chelsea a glimmer of hope that with the away goal they could turn it around at Stamford Bridge, bit that would be unlikely.
Defeat for Chelsea tonight wouldn’t be disastrous if it was a 2-1 defeat, or 3-2. Getting an away goal or two would give them hope for the second leg.
But, should Real Madrid win 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 3-1 or higher then you’d have to think the tie is all but over. Conversely, any result that isn’t mentioned here would suit Chelsea going into the return.
Did you know that in their 3 previous encounters in their history Real Madrid have never beaten Chelsea?
Real Madrid have won the first leg of 9 of their last 10 Champions League knockout ties, scoring at least 2 goals in 8 of these games
Mateo Kovacic remains injured and will miss out for Chelsea while Toni Kroos has trained and will be available for Real Madrid, as will Eden Hazard.
Zinedine Zidane and Thomas Tuchel are 3 of only 24 managers to have managed 15-plus Champions League matches in the knockout stages. Zidane has the joint-best win ratio (alongside Luis Enrique) of these managers (67%, P27 W18).
Our prediction: Real Madrid 2 Chelsea 1